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Gloria J.T. Smith
By TIM ANNETT
© St. Petersburg Times, published July 31, 2000
Executive director, the Alzheimer's Association, Tampa Bay Chapter
Executive director, Columbus AIDS Task Force, Columbus, Ohio
Gloria J.T. Smith, a social services administrator who transformed a fledgling AIDS agency into Ohio's largest AIDS service organization, is the new executive director of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.
Smith came to the chapter July 5 after 13 years with the Columbus AIDS Task Force. When she began working with CATF, the organization had one other staff member, 50 volunteers, 43 clients and a modest annual budget of $40,000. By the time Smith left this year, CATF had a staff of 42, 520 volunteers, more than 900 clients and an annual budget of $2.6-million.
Before joining CATF, Smith worked 10 years at the United Way of Franklin County, Ohio, where she was director of the management assistance program. She learned of the AIDS Task Force through a United Way colleague, who approached her about taking the executive director position.
"I was impressed with the volunteers there, from the physicians to lay people," Smith said. She also says she took the job out of a desire to change the public's perception of AIDS and AIDS patients.
"When I first took the job, people were afraid to shake my hand. And I thought, if they are reacting this way to me, how are they reacting to our clients? It was tough initially, but I was motivated to help change that."
Smith's career in social service, she says, came of a desire to work at something she could be committed to, something that "evokes a lot of passion" for her. After 13 years at CATF, Smith was ready for a new challenge. Working with the Alzheimer's Association seemed the right fit.
"I was not interested in many of the other nonprofits, and I wanted a different challenge from AIDS," she said. "I had said years ago that the only other field I could see myself working in was Alzheimer's, and it all fell into place. It was an organization which needed my expertise, and it's a growing but ignored field."
In her new position, Smith will be responsible for making sure the Alzheimer's Association has the resources to fulfill its mission. Those duties range from fundraising to staffing to making sure the chapter observes regulations and keeps up with its state and federal filings. Perhaps Smith's most important duty will be assuring that the organization remains vital.
"Over time, needs change," Smith said, "but lots of organizations get into a rut." Expanding outreach to the Latino and African-American communities, she says, illustrates how the association is changing to stay responsive to the needs of its clientele.
Smith, 46, was born in Texas and grew up in Ohio. She relocated to the Tampa Bay area last month and is searching for a permanent home that will allow her to be centrally located between the Alzheimer's Association's several satellite offices.
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