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Nicola Smith-Kea

Criminal Justice Manager

Headshot of Nicola Smith-Kea
Todd Spoth

Nicola is responsible for analyzing, designing, and executing high-leverage philanthropic investments in Arnold Ventures’ policing portfolio.

Previously, Nicola served as Law Enforcement Project Manager at the Council of State Government Justice Center. There, she provided technical assistance to the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Law Enforcement Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) grantees and supported innovative cross-system collaborations for individuals with mental illnesses or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders who come into contact with the justice system. Nicola oversaw the National Law Enforcement–Mental Health Learning Sites Program and worked closely with a diverse cross-section of law enforcement agencies dedicated to helping jurisdictions improve their responses to people with mental illnesses. Nicola has also served as an independent program evaluator for USAID’s Bureau of Economic Growth, Education and Environment.

Nicola is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for Montgomery County, Maryland. As a CASA, she is a trained volunteer appointed by the Juvenile Court to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children. Nicola has a Ph.D. and an M.A. in leadership and change from Antioch University with a focus on women executive leaders in policing and untangling the complex factors that allowed them to succeed — or stood in their way. She calls this the “Web of Intersections.” She holds an M.A. in criminology and criminal justice from the University of Maryland, College Park. She has also received an M.S. in sociology and a B.S. in psychology and sociology from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica.

Headshot of Nicola Smith-Kea
Todd Spoth
Meet the Team

Criminal Justice


Arnold Ventures funds projects to understand problems and identify policy solutions.

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