Anthony Brian Smith, Editor at Large for NationSwell, passed away suddenly on December 30th, 2023. He was just 34 years old, but his legacy is massive — a ripple effect of hope, action and human warmth that impacted countless people he connected with during his lifetime, and that changed our team for the better, forever.

A proud child of the Bronx, NY, Anthony constantly went above and beyond. After graduating from Wesleyan University, he carved out a successful career in fast-paced online media before joining NationSwell in 2018 to lead our solutions journalism and editorial content. 

Anthony’s natural curiosity and sharp intellect made him a source of invaluable insight and analysis of current events, for our team and community. He could synthesize detailed source material into relevant calls to action with astonishing speed & nuance. For over five years, he made sure our content was rigorous, thoughtful and top quality; he acted as charismatic MC for events large and small; and charmed hundreds of high profile thought-leaders through his work on interviews, campaigns and panel discussions. He cared deeply about politics and social and environmental issues, and he wrote eloquently about and supported causes close to his heart, including LGBTQ+ rights and racial equity. 

He was a passionate journalist and a joyful consumer of culture: movies, books, music, travel, food. You name it, he had a hot take. There was nothing surface level about Anthony: his knowledge ran deep, on almost every topic you can imagine, from the circular economy to awards season nominees. He went out of his way to make others’ lives richer too — creating and participating in numerous groups over the years to support LGBTQ+ youth, Pokemon enthusiasts, Great British Bake Off lovers, and beyond. Listening carefully to people’s specific preferences, he then went out of his way to get them that thing (often delivering colleagues’ personal lunch orders to them without them even asking). His delight in the minutiae of life was infectious.

Anthony knew everyone. As a team, we gathered yesterday to share some of our favorite memories of him. One colleague shared that getting anywhere in New York with him took ages because of all the people he stopped to speak to on the way. Every project we worked on, he had spot-on recommendations for speakers and contributors — people he had worked with or met on his journey, people he lifted up as intellectual leaders and genius creatives, without ever stopping to acknowledge those same qualities in himself.

Above all else, the overriding feeling you had after any interaction with Anthony was lightness. He was funny. Effortlessly so. Funny in a way that skewered hypocrisy and often himself, yet was also somehow so incredibly warm. Walk into any room, and you knew that Anthony would make you feel welcome… and make you laugh. “He was magic,” our CEO, Greg Behrman, reflected. 

We are devastated to have to write this statement today, and heartbroken for Anthony’s family and loved ones.

As a team, we are grieving, processing and thinking about how to do justice to our dear friend Anthony’s legacy. We will post more from the team next week.

Thank you, Anthony, for everything. You are one of one.

NationSwell Team