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Tuesday, March 20, 2018
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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

     03/18 - Making Schools Safe

Where does Louisiana stand in this national discussion?
The school shooting in Broward County Florida that took the lives of 17 people has reignited the debate over how to make our schools safe. Energized students nationwide are calling for restricted access to certain guns. Congress is considering broader background checks and age limits on gun purchases. President Donald Trump is most enthusiastic about training school staff members to carry concealed weapons.

Where does Louisiana stand in this national discussion? How would gun control proposals affect the 45% of Louisianans who own guns? What mental health services are available to prevent teenagers from acting out violently? What increased security measures should schools take and how much will they cost? Louisiana Public Square looks for answers to these questions and more on “Making Schools Safe” airing Wednesday, March 28 at 7 p.m. on LPB and WLAE in New Orleans. (Taping Tuesday, March 27.)
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