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Panelist Bio

Ronald L. Smith

Ronald Smith was placed in the position as Executive Director of the ExxonMobil YMCA in October of 2010. While employed as loan officer and later Director of Marketing and Public relations at Southern Teachers and Parents Federal Credit Union, Mr. Smith was approached by Senator Richard Turnley, and State Representative Avon Honey about their desire to have a YMCA in North Baton Rouge. Mr. Smith, Turnley and Honey then set out to raise the several million dollars needed to bring the now ExxonMobil YMCA into existence.

As Executive Director Mr. Smith is responsible for all aspects of staffing, fund raising, board development, fitness programming and community outreach. Mr. Smith came to the YMCA with a distinguished career and background in business and community service. Mr. Smith has been a trailblazer in creating opportunities for individuals in North Baton Rouge since the early 90’s when he traveled to Washington several times with Mayor Tom Ed McHugh to develop the North Baton Rouge Community Development Corporation. He helped to deliver funding and became the first president of the federally funded CDC in Baton Rouge, providing over 1.5 million dollars in non-repayment grants and financing for new home construction for low-income individuals. While at ST&P, Mr. Smith investigated and wrote the original request to give ST&P the designation as the first credit union in Louisiana to be given the federal status as a low-income designated credit union, allowing discounted financing for organizations working to improve the lives of individual in low income designated areas.

Mr. Smith’s passion to create business opportunities in North Baton Rouge has led to many business endeavors, becoming one of the first minority owners of a Hilton Hotel in Louisiana (the airport Hilton Garden hotel), an initial investment partner in the International House of Pancakes at Harding Boulevard and playing many roles while working with developer Richard Preis in the development of the initial planning phases of the North Baton Rouge Surgical Center and the Howell Place development.

Throughout Mr. Smith’s busy business career he has always dedicated time to helping individuals improve their current health and financial situation. For two years Mr. Smith traveled the southern portion of the state with Catholic Charities teaching weeklong financial literacy classes in 6 parishes in South Louisiana. Mr. Smith continues to provide these classes in abbreviated versions at the YMCA. Mr. Smith also requested and received a $50,000 car buyer’s assistance grant which educated, provided a cash down payment and negotiation assistance in the purchase of an automobile for individuals of modest means. The Links Boot Camp and Kids zone, Lemonade Day, ExxonMobil Swim Survive succeed, Amerigroup Summer Camp, Louisiana Healthcare Connection sponsored swim classes and numerous YMCA swim programs are a result of Mr. Smith’s networking abilities and desire to improve the lives of the people in North Baton Rouge.

Recognized for his work in the business community at large Mr. Smith was recently asked to speak at the LSU Ourso School of Business and received the Urec Networker of the Year Award. In his little spare time Mr. Smith enjoys traveling, tailgating with the Road Runners, spending time with immediate and extended family, and his newest passion, creating opportunities to teach kids and adults how to swim.

Ronald is one of two sons born to Nathan and Louise Smith in Baton Rouge. He is married to the former Loyce Young and is the father to two daughters, Jade and Shalanda.

Current Topic

     09/18 - Revisiting Reform

Are the criminal justice reforms working as intended?
In 2017, Louisiana’s legislature passed the Justice Reinvestment Act, which sought to reduce the state’s highest-in-the-nation incarceration rate. The bill was championed by Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards and received bipartisan support including from community and business leaders. Now, just over a year later, the legislation has become a political football. State Attorney General Jeff Landry and Senator John Kennedy, both Republicans considering a run against Edwards in 2019, suggest that the reform package is a failure. They cite murders committed by two inmates released since the Act’s implementation.

Are the criminal justice reforms working as intended? Has the legislation put more residents in harm’s way or are plea deals part of the problem?

Louisiana Public Square looks for answers to these questions and more on “Revisiting Reform” Wednesday, September 26 at 7pm on LPB and in New Orleans on WLAE.

Our panelists are:
• E. Pete Adams, Executive Director, La. District Attorneys Association
• Alanah Hebert, ACLU of Louisiana & Justice Reinvestment Task Force
• Andrew Hundley, Louisiana Parole Project
• Sec. Jimmy LeBlanc, La. Department of Corrections

The program features interviews with Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry; Rep. Terry Landry, D- New Iberia, with the Justice Reinvestment Oversight Council; Deputy Assistant Secretary Natalie Laborde, with the Louisiana Department of Corrections; and Stephanie Riegel, editor of the Baton Rouge Business Report.

LPB CEO, Beth Courtney and professor Robert Mann with the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication host the show.

Louisiana Public Square can also be heard on public radio stations WRKF in Baton Rouge; Red River Radio in Shreveport and Monroe; and WWNO in New Orleans. Check their station websites for schedule.

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Special Presentation

     05/16 - Louisiana Veterans Coming Home

What challenges do our returning veterans face?

Coming Soon!

     10/18 - Louisiana Veterans Back Home

What are the programs and initiatives helping our veterans successfully transition to civilian life?

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