Before starting her own consulting firm, Catalyst Strategic Impact Advisors in 2021, she most recently served as the first Chief Economic Equity and Inclusion Officer for Franklin County, Ohio, the state’s largest county, serving over 1.3 million residents.
Throughout her 25- plus year career in local government service, she dedicated herself to developing and executing strategies that engage employees and build wealth in marginalized communities to close racial and gender wealth gaps.
Ms. Smith is recognized for her strategic planning, execution and leadership on diversity, economic equity and inclusion, economic development and workforce development initiatives. She has expertise in leading large diverse teams and developing innovative solutions that drive results and impact.
Most recently, she developed and managed Franklin County’s first economic inclusion task force. Members include the County’s most prestigious economic development organizations such as the Columbus Partnership and One Columbus; the region’s largest minority community development organization, the Columbus Urban League; and several of the County’s largest employers such Huntington National Bank. Her additional accomplishments include design of the County’s Construction Inclusion Plan, a community stakeholder engagement program for a $300 million capital project which has resulted in 24% utilization of small and emerging businesses, doubling the projects’ 12% utilization goal. Ms. Smith also led the County’s equitable entrepreneurial ecosystem optimization initiative.
An economic development professional, Ms. Smith has worked on the local and national levels to improve low-wealth communities by leveraging place-based strategies. She worked to revitalize neighborhoods by leveraging her project management skills to develop multi-million-dollar affordable housing projects and redevelop an urban commercial corridor.
On the national level, Ms. Smith uses her expertise in community economic development as a subject matter expert as part of a team of national community development professionals led by a former Director of the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund), part of the US Treasury. She led the application management process that resulted in the award of $40 million in extremely competitive and highly coveted federal New Markets Tax Credits for the Kroger Company (Cincinnati, OH) and the Oakland Renaissance Community Development Corporation (Oakland, CA).
Ms. Smith holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University, where she also earned a B.A in Economics. She was recognized with the college’s highest graduate student award, the Mary Katchmar Award for Public Service upon her graduation in 1998 and the Outstanding Alumnus award in 2006. In 2016, Ms. Smith received the Outstanding Head of Diversity award from Columbus Business First newspaper in their (now) annual, regional Diversity Awards. A certified DiSC facilitator and personal development coach, she is a proud mom of two physicians, Keeanna M. Smith, MD and Stewart A. Smith, MD.