James C. Free   Chairman

Jim Free serves as Chairman of The Smith-Free Group, which he co-founded in 1995.  Previously, Free had been Vice-Chairman of Walker-Free Associates, a consulting firm he joined in 1981.  At both firms, spanning over four decades, he has been involved in representing major global companies in such areas as energy, entertainment, copyright, communications, health care, financial services, trade, and transportation.


Free served in the Tennessee House of Representatives as Chief Clerk before coming to Washington, D.C. in 1977, to serve in the Carter White House as Special Assistant to the President for Congressional Affairs.  As an advocate for President Carter's programs before Congress, he worked on transportation, trade, energy and environmental issues including passage of the Clean Air Act, the Alaska Lands Act, and national energy legislation.  

Free's extensive Washington experience has been recognized with service on several boards of business, professional, and charitable institutions including the Country Music Association, Washington Center for Interns, the Branding Committee of the New York Stock Exchange, Woodrow Wilson House, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.  Jim Free has lectured and led discussions at the University of Georgia, Lipscomb University, The Brookings Institution, the Carter Center and at his alma mater Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), where he is also a visiting professor.    

Jim and his wife Ann, are active community members and generous supporters of the arts and humanities and other charitable organizations, including The Kennedy Center, The Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Woodrow Wilson Center, Nashville Public Library Foundation, and Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art, among others. The Free’s continue their involvement and support at Jim’s alma mater by establishing the Jim and Ann Free Endowed Scholarship in Music Business at MTSU.