Nicola Smith-Kea

Criminal Justice Manager

Arnold Ventures


Nicola Smith-Kea is responsible for analyzing, designing, and executing high-leverage philanthropic investments on AV’s policing portfolio. Nikki has worked at the intersection of law enforcement, mental health, substance use disorder, and homelessness, and is committed to the vision of the team’s Alternative to Arrest Portfolio, to help law enforcement safely respond to people in crisis in the most effective, least restrictive way that is conducive to individual and public safety.

Previously, Nikki served as Law Enforcement Project Manager at the Council of State Governments Justice Center. There, she provided technical assistance to the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Law Enforcement Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program grantees, supporting innovative cross-system collaborations for individuals with mental illnesses or co-occurring disorders who encounter the justice system. Nicola oversaw the National Law Enforcement–Mental Health Learning Sites Program and worked closely with a diverse cross-section of agencies dedicated to helping jurisdictions improve their responses to this vulnerable population.

She is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for Montgomery County, Maryland, a trained volunteer appointed by the Juvenile Court to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children. She holds an M.S. in sociology from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica and a B.S. in psychology and sociology. She has also received an M.A. in criminology and criminal justice from the University of Maryland, College Park and an M.A. in leadership and change from Antioch University.

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