Steven J. Smith

President and CEO

Steve Smith is the CEO of disaster logistics nonprofit Airlink and a passionate advocate for disrupting and redefining disaster logistics. With a career spanning almost two decades in the humanitarian and aviation sectors, Steve’s profound understanding of the critical role logistics plays in disaster response makes him an innovative thinker with a unique message for the humanitarian, philanthropic, and business community. 

The supply chain accounts for a staggering 73% of the cost of any aid program, encompassing purchasing, warehousing, and logistics. Steve is convinced that if the Airlink model were replicated across the transport and supply chain business community, there could be a step change in the amount of aid that is provided to vulnerable communities and an amplification of the impact of humanitarian aid programs. All this against a backdrop of humanitarian needs being at an all-time high and the inability of existing systems to keep up. His expertise lies in illustrating how Airlink’s groundbreaking model of efficiently harnessing the power and speed of the aviation industry in disaster response could revolutionize supply chain dynamics in aid delivery. By showcasing the success stories and impact of Airlink’s approach, Steve empowers audiences with the belief that a collaborative multi-industry effort can significantly amplify aid budgets and streamline aid delivery to communities affected by disasters.

During his time as CEO, Airlink has grown from a unique start-up to a global humanitarian relief nonprofit that, in 2023, will support programs to reach almost 15 million people. Airlink simplifies and enhances the aviation industry’s critical role in the humanitarian relief and disaster response infrastructure. Under Steve’s leadership, Airlink has delivered aid to over 46 million people across the globe, working with the world’s leading airlines and logistics companies to provide free-of-charge transport on behalf of a network of over 200 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).  

Before leading Airlink, Steve’s experience encompassed both the private and nonprofit sectors. While living in South Africa, Steve worked for Africa’s largest African NGO, the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), which is the foremost African conflict resolution civil society organization on the continent. Upon returning to the U.S., Steve joined jet engine maker Rolls-Royce, where he led the engine manufacturer’s largest engine and aftermarket campaign in its history. After four years with Rolls Royce, he was recruited as Airlink’s first CEO in 2013.    

A dynamic and energetic speaker, Steve brings to the forefront the power of collaboration, innovation, and industry synergy across the aviation and logistics sector in creating a more effective, efficient, and compassionate response to disasters worldwide.

Learn More About Our Work

The Airlink team works every day to help connect NGOs and airlines to meet pressing humanitarian needs across the globe.