2011 Recipient

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Where presented : 
Exemplar Award Dinner
Recipient(s) name: 
Brad Smith
Recipient title: 
Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary
Recipient organization: 
Recipient organization city: 
Recipient organization state: 
Reason for selection of recipient(s): 

Smith leads Microsoft’s Department of Legal and Corporate Affairs (LCA) — which has more than 1,000 employees and is responsible for the company’s legal work — its intellectual property portfolio and patent licensing business, and its government affairs and philanthropic work. He also serves as Microsoft’s chief compliance officer. 

Smith has helped advance several significant diversity and pro bono initiatives, both within Microsoft and in the broader legal profession. He currently co-chairs the board of directors of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and serves as chair of the Pipeline Committee of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity. 

Smith has also played a central role in ensuring that Microsoft fulfills its corporate responsibilities. In recent years, Microsoft has consistently ranked in the top 2 percent of the S&P 500 for corporate governance scores. During Smith’s tenure, the company’s citizenship programs have reached almost 300 million people in 120 countries through technology training programs that help individuals develop skills needed to obtain jobs. 

Smith is also Microsoft’s senior executive responsible for the company’s corporate citizenship in Washington State. He has served as chair of the Washington Roundtable, a leading Washington state-based business organization. In 2010, he chaired for Washington Governor Christine Gregoire her Higher Education Funding Task Force, and in 2011 he helped advocate for the successful adoption by the legislature of the task force’s recommendations, including tuition-setting authority and increased accountability for the state’s public universities and for the nation’s first private-public funded endowment to enable more students to attend college. During the past year, Smith and his wife, Kathy Surace-Smith, co-chaired the annual campaign for the United Way King County, the country’s largest United Way Campaign. 

Before joining Microsoft in 1993, Smith was a partner at Covington & Burling, having worked in the firm’s Washington, D.C., and London offices. He graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University and received his law degree at the Columbia University School of Law. He also studied international law and economics at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. Smith has written numerous articles regarding international intellectual property and Internet policy issues, and has served as a lecturer at The Hague Academy of International Law. 

There is ample evidence of Smith’s devotion to the well being of others and his commitment to strengthening that principle within every institution he touches, from his earliest days. At Princeton, he won the Harold Willis Dodds Achievement Award — the highest award given to a senior at commencement — for “clear thinking, moral courage, a patient and judicious concern for the opinions of others, and a thoroughgoing devotion to the welfare of the University.” In addition, his graduating class voted to award him the Class of 1901 Medal, for the senior “who has done the most for Princeton.” A Dewitt Clinton Poole Memorial Prize Scholarship helped to support Smith’s senior thesis on international refugee law at the headquarters of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, in Geneva, Switzerland. 

Smith’s many other honors include the 2007 Scales of Justice Award, by Equal Justice Works for significant contributions to the advancement of pro bono legal work; the 2009 A. Leon Higginbotham Corporate Leadership Award for contributions to diversity and inclusion; the American Bar Association’s 2010 Spirit of Excellence Diversity Award for Microsoft’s commitment to diversity in the profession; and the Corporate Counsel Publication’s 2010 Best Legal Department Award for leadership, innovation and effective management by Microsoft’s Legal and Corporate Affairs department. Smith’s most recent publication, “Defending Those Who Need it Most,” appeared on the White House blog earlier this fall as part of the White House’s Champions of Change Initiative.