Zephanii Smith was born and raised in Stockton, California– where she was introduced to the NAACP as an elementary school student performing at the Stockton Youth Council’s Annual Youth Empowerment Summit. It was the very first time she was introduced to civil rights and other issues pertaining to youth. During the workshops, the flame within a young activist was lit. Since then, Zephanii’s interest in pertinent issues and passion to serve the association never ceased.
During high school, she served as the Battalion Deputy Commander in Army JROTC, a student ambassador for People to People International, and was a member of Stockton Unified School District’s Board of Trustees. She has also served as Vice President of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Commission, and a student journalist for the Record newspaper while working on various political campaigns and working as a Congressional Intern. As President of the NAACP Stockton Youth Council, her unit mobilized on issues related to education and criminal justice, among them they participated in Lobby Days and marched in both Atlanta and D.C. for the Voting Rights Act. During the summer of 2009, she co-founded Save Our Stockton—A Youth Movement for Change responsible for working with City Council to address youth issues through the development of a teen-oriented task force.
Zephanii is currently a student of Government at Claremont McKenna College in California. She serves on the Student Senate and was in ARMY ROTC. In 2009, Zephanii traveled to Egypt with Claremont Graduate University and won a student leadership case study competition in Prague, Czech Republic at the International Leadership Association convention. She currently works at the Kravis Leadership Institute and will be studying abroad in Tunisia, North Africa next fall, then London at the School of Oriental and African Studies during the Spring. She will study Arabic and Emerging Identities in North Africa focusing on women, youth, and Islamic Relations with the U.S.
In 2008, she was selected by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to represent California at the United States Senate Youth Program where she met highest ranking government officials, including the President at the White House. She hopes to continue her service in the NAACP as a member of the National Board of Directors—and is pursuing a career in legislative government.