Sheila J. Smith is the President & CEO of 2-1-1 Broward, a 24-hour information and referral and crisis/suicide hotline serving Broward County. She has 30 years of experience in non-profit management, having served as CEO of several direct service organizations in Florida and New York. Ms. Smith has created and managed a variety of programs which have positively impacted the lives of youth, families, victims of domestic violence, homeless and vulnerable older adults.
Over the past thirteen years with 2-1-1 Broward, Ms. Smith worked closely with a team of dedicated volunteer Board members to triple the organization’s budget and build a healthy reserve account, thereby stabilizing the organization and positioning it for growth. With investments in state-of-the-art technology and the launch of text and chat, 2-1-1 is recognized today for its outstanding service quality and its critically important role in connecting people in need with the services that can help them. Ms. Smith values collaboration, and in partnership with funders, government, and corporate leaders, works diligently to address and resolve the needs of individuals and families in our community.
Drawing from her deep understanding of the nonprofit sector and her wide ranging experiences, Ms. Smith has also provided consulting services to small nonprofits, helping them to develop and train their Boards, obtain new grant funding, and build the infrastructure needed to manage contracts and services. She has generated millions of dollars in federal, state and local funding which has helped support the important work of nonprofit organizations.
Ms. Smith has a degree in Psychology from Nazareth College and co-authored a 1997 study entitled “Evaluating an intervention for homeless persons: Results of a field experiment”. This study, conducted under Dr. Paul Toro and the University at Buffalo, was published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Locally, Ms. Smith has participated in three prestigious senior executive training programs: Leadership Broward Senior Executive Orientation (SEO), American Express Leadership Academy, and the NonProfit Executive Program of the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship and Florida State University College of Business.
A resident of Broward County for 20 years, Ms. Smith is active with local and statewide health and human service planning efforts. She is the Immediate Past Chair of the Florida Alliance of Information & Referral Services (FLAIRS) and serves on the Board of the Coordinating Council of Broward.
CEO/Executive Director Positions:
2-1-1 Broward, Fort Lauderdale, FL (Current)
Center of Hope, West Palm Beach, FL
Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach, FL
Hispanos Unidos de Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
DEPTH, Inc., Buffalo, NY
Contract Management Group, Buffalo, NY, Owner/Partner
Food Link, Rochester, NY, Associate Director
Rural Opportunities, Rochester, NY, Regional Employment & Training Specialist
Nazareth College of Rochester
1997 Co-author of study: Evaluating an intervention for homeless persons: Results of
A field experiment.
Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology
Professional Activities (Current):
Florida Alliance of Information & Referral Services (FLAIRS), Board of Directors, Immediate Past Chair
Coordinating Council of Broward, Board Member & Long Term Recovery Committee Secretary
Professional Activities (Past):
Florida Impact, Board of Directors
Florida 2-1-1 Association, Immediate Past Chair
CareerSource Broward, Board of Directors
The Girl Choir of South Florida, Board of Directors
Coordinating Council of Broward, Steering Committee Co-Chair
Palm Beach County Continuum of Care: Planning Committee, Bed & Gaps Committee
Caring House Project, Board of Directors
Buffalo Urban Women’s Action Team, Mayoral Appointment
Women’s TAP, Fund Raising Committee
Erie County FEMA Local Allocations, Board of Directors
Rochester Area Children’s Collaborative, Board of Directors
Monroe County Youth Bureau, Board of Directors, Mayoral/County Executive Appointment
Parents Anonymous NY State Resource Office, Board of Directors
Going back to when you first started with your organization to now, what has been your proudest personal accomplishment? When I started, almost no one even knew what 211 was! Today, that has completely changed. Our community is incredibly generous in supporting 211, and our services and technology have evolved as needs change. I’m so proud of our tremendous Board of Directors and staff. Our team is making a difference in so many lives.
What do you enjoy the most about your work? Broward is a very collaborative place, and we work closely with other nonprofits, corporations, educational institutions, philanthropists, government, law enforcement, media, and so many others. It’s very rewarding to build and nurture these partnerships and for us all to work together for the shared purpose of doing good.
Do you have a mentor; someone who has been there to guide you or consult with you when you needed their input? I’ve been lucky to have learned from many accomplished people throughout my life. I have to say John Benz has been a great mentor. He introduced me to what felt like all of Broward County when I joined 211 and has always been there with support and advice. He’s brilliant and sees how all the pieces fit together. He also cares deeply.
How did you determine which charitable organizations you would support?
I care about changing lives and providing opportunities for everyone. I always support 211 Broward and United Way because both touch so many people and are there in every crisis. I also support No More Tears because they provide anything needed to help victims of human trafficking and domestic violence to heal and live happy and fulfilled lives.
Is there a charitable event(s) you really look forward to attending each year? I’m very excited that two of 211 Broward’s signature events will be back this year: The Community Care Plan NonProfit Awards and the Kip Hunter Marketing Making Real Connections Breakfast. The awards event is spectacular and glitzy and draws attention to the important work of Broward’s nonprofits. The breakfast is always emotional for me because we recognize the people and companies that have advanced the work of 211.
What is your greatest strength(s) that makes you such an asset to your organization? I’m the eternal optimist. I’m always focused on what’s next, how to do better. Opportunities abound if we keep an open mind and a positive attitude. I also truly believe that individuals hold the power to make the world better if each of us does what we can in our piece of the world. Spread kindness, contribute in a positive way, and vote!
Do you have a favorite vacation spot? Any place that’s quiet and where I can be outside. I loved Grand Turk. Sparkling white sand beaches with no one on them and great scuba diving. More recently, I’ve spent vacations in the Georgia and Colorado mountains. The hiking in both places is phenomenal.
Is there a fond childhood memory you can share with us? Christmas at my grandparents’ farm in upstate New York. The house was filled with relatives. We would spend the afternoon snowmobiling, followed by hot chocolate next to a wood burning stove. It was magical – and probably sounds like something out of a movie!
What is something your parents taught you that you will never forget? Be kind. If you can’t say something kind, don’t say anything. Always be considerate of others.
What are your favorite leisure time activities or hobbies? My absolute favorite activities are snorkeling and kayaking. I got to snorkel with whale sharks off Mexico a couple years ago, and that ranks as one of the highlights of my life! I also enjoy reading, especially historical novels and biographies.
Is there a special “aha” moment in your life when you knew “I get it now!”? For me, it happened when I had children. You become acutely aware of the overwhelming responsibility you have for another life. My “aha” was realizing that nothing I do in life will be as important as raising my children to be good people.
What is the best book you have ever read? Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown is the book I’ve never been able to forget. It’s compelling, devastating, enlightening, and life changing.
What three things are always in your refrigerator? Flax Seed Oil, Butter Lettuce, and Grass Milk Half & Half for coffee
What is your most treasured possession? I have a video that was compiled from old reels of film. It’s of my grandparents, mother, aunts, and uncles and was shot in the 1940’s. I feel very lucky to have live footage from that time to pass down to future generations.