David Bruce Smith is the son of Robert H. Smith, a builder developer, philanthropist and former President of the National Gallery of Art. His mother is the world-renowned artist Clarice Chasen Smith. His grandfather was the real estate developer and philanthropist, Charles E. Smith. Smith’s book Conversations with Papa Charlie is a memoir of the close relationship he had with his grandfather.
Smith worked at the Charles E. Smith Realty Companies for two decades before switching to a career in writing/editing/publishing. During that time he progressed from a property management job in the Residential division, to vice-president and senior vice president positions in commercial management. He also founded, edited and published the widely circulated Crystal City Magazine.
He serves on the board of the Washington, DC Jewish Community Center, Arena Stage, Smithsonian Libraries and President Lincoln's Cottage. His is also a former member of George Washington University's Board of Directors. He is President of the National Institute of Psychobiology in Jerusalem, Israel, a member of the Advisory Board at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue and a member of the Board of Advisors for the Washington Independent Review of Books. He co-judged Moment Magazine's Jewish Literature Award, 2012.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts in American Literature from George Washington University and a Master of Arts in Journalism from New York University.
He has a son named Max and a daughter named Alexandra.
David Bruce Smith Publications was founded in 2003. The company specializes in creating, designing, and writing limited-edition books on a variety of subjects such as authors, historic figures, artists and leaders. His is the author of eleven books; In Many Arenas, 13 Young Men, Tennessee, Three Miles from Providence, Conversations with Papa Charlie, Afternoon Tea with Mom, Letters to My Children, Building the Community, Continuum, Building My Life and the children's book American Hero: John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States. He is also a reviewer of books for several publications.
In 2014 he launched The Grateful American™ Series, an interactive, multimedia program designed to restore enthusiasm in American history for children and adults. The Grateful American Foundation, which focuses on publishing materials and producing activities for children about American History, was founded in 2014.
In March 2015 he co-founded the Grateful American™ Book Prize, with Dr. Bruce Cole, the former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The annual award will honor a single 7th-9th grade level work culled from fiction, historical fiction, and non-fiction entries.
The Prize consists of a $13,000 cash award in commemoration of the 13 original Colonies. In addition, the winner receives a silver medal designed by Smith’s mother, the renowned artist Clarice Smith.
The inaugural winner, announced at President Lincoln's Cottage in Washington, was Kathy Cannon Wiechman for her Civil War novel, Like a River. It is the author's first book. 2015 Honorable Mentions were Michaela MacColl's The Revelation of Louisa May and Darlene Beck Jacobson's Wheels of Change.
2016's Grateful American Book Prize was presented to Chris Stevenson at the Library of Congress for his Revolutionary War novel, The Drum of Destiny. "Honorable Mentions" went to Michaela MacColl's and Rosemary Nichols's, Freedom's Price, and Laura Amy Schlitz's, The Hired Girl.
Smith established a scholarship funds for undergraduate students at George Washington University.
In 2009 he helped to establish "Jewish Literature Live" at George Washington University. The course on contemporary Jewish American works of literature allows students to study and interact with prominent Jewish American authors. Renowned writer and George Washington University professor Faye Moskowitz teaches the course.
The Gettysburg Foundation began the David Bruce Smith Education Initiative in 2009, a decade of public programs and educational opportunities that highlight Abraham Lincoln's presidency and legacy. The Robert H. Smith Family Foundation supports the initiative. In 2012 he received the Ottenstein Award for Community Service from the Jewish Social Services Agency of Washington, DC. He received the Hymen Goldman Humanitarian award in 2013 from the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington, and an honorary fellowship from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Smith joined the Foundation Board at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in 2014; in 2015, he was elected to the Board of the Smithsonian Libraries. In 2017 Smith was appointed to the History News Network Board.