Jennifer Friend

Jennifer Friend

Board Member, UCI Alumni Association

Executive Director,

Project Hope Alliance (PHA)


UC Irvine – 1995, B.A., social ecology

Whittier Law School – 1998, J.D.


Prior to becoming the CEO of Project Hope Alliance, Jennifer Friend enjoyed a successful career as a partner at a large law firm managing a litigation team and a substantial personal book of business representing national and international clients throughout the civil courts of California. 

While practicing law, Friend served as the President and Secretary of the Project Hope Alliance Board of Directors and was actively engaged in the organization’s expansion and strategic growth. In this capacity, she also shared with the community her personal story of  growing up in Orange County and experiencing significant financial struggles which found her family of six forced from their home at various times during her childhood and living in different motels in Orange County. Ultimately, Friend found her calling in advocating for and advancing the needs of homeless children in Orange County and elected to resign from her partnership and make her avocation of making sure that every child in Orange County has a fair chance to realize and fulfill their potential, her vocation.  Project Hope Alliance (formerly Project HOPE School Foundation) was formed in 2003 and educates and empowers homeless children in Orange County to end the cycle of poverty. Under her leadership, in the past year, Project Hope Alliance has gone from serving 1 school and 65 children to serving over 300 children attending 85 schools throughout Orange County and will end homelessness for 500 children in 2014.

Friend graduated from the University of California, Irvine and Whittier Law School where she was recognized through the Dean’s Award for her excellence in leadership and service of others. In 2013, Friend was selected as a recipient of the Litigation Counsel of America’s inaugural Peter Perlman Service Award in recognition of her meaningful contribution to society through her dedication of time and resources in an effort to improve the lives of others. She currently serves as the Vice President of Membership for the Orange County Philharmonic Society, Upper Bay Committee, as well as a Founding Board Member for Every Monday Matters and the Davis Magnet School Foundation. Friend is also very involved in the life of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach and is blessed to be raising two children with her loving husband, Rob Smith, also a graduate of UCI Social Ecology. 

Friend has been actively engaged with UCI and was a participant in the recent Orange County Non Profit Leadership Conversation with Chancellor Gillman.  Friend also serves on the Steering Committee for the up-coming UCI/United Way Non Profit Leadership Summit scheduled for October 2015.