Michael D. Smith, a 2001 Communication graduate of Marymount University, became the new Chief Executive Officer of AmeriCorps, the only federal organization leading community service and volunteerism across the nation.
Starting in the role earlier this month, Smith was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in December 2021 after receiving a nomination for the position by President Joe Biden in June 2021. Smith will guide the organization during a time of significant growth and impact, marked by a historic $1 billion investment through the American Rescue Plan for community-based pandemic response efforts.
“I’ve seen the impact of AmeriCorps firsthand throughout my own life. Every day, AmeriCorps members and volunteers create hope and possibility for children and families in greatest need,” Smith said. “That’s why I am committed to the mission of this agency – it’s both personal and professional to me. It’s such a privilege to be able to lead an organization dedicated to bringing Americans together through service. I consider it an honor of a lifetime to be asked by President Biden to serve in this role.”
In his nomination announcement, Biden highlighted Smith’s dedication to service through his roles as Executive Director of the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Alliance and Director of Youth Opportunity Programs at the Obama Foundation.
My Brother’s Keeper was created in 2014 during President Barack Obama’s administration, and focuses on creating safe communities and opportunities for boys and young men of color. Smith was part of the team that designed and launched the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, and was appointed Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of Cabinet Affairs for My Brother’s Keeper.
“When President Obama launched MBK, he said ‘there is nothing more important to the future of America than whether or not our boys and young men – and all children – can achieve their dreams.’ That message conveys the depth of our interconnectedness,” Smith explained. “Over my eight years of doing this work, I have been inspired by the courage, strength and selflessness displayed by so many everyday changemakers doing all they can to reduce barriers and expand opportunity for our children and families.”
In 1997, Smith enrolled at Marymount University for his bachelor’s degree. He recalls falling in love with the nation’s capital as a congressional intern during high school, and attending Marymount – located just six miles or a short Metro ride away – brought him closer to the opportunities of Washington, D.C.
“It was important to me that I attended a school with important values centered on faith, ethics and service,” Smith explained. “Marymount provided me with the opportunity to test and grow my leadership skills through student government and other student activities. It supported and encouraged my internships and work on Capitol Hill and national nonprofits in the area.”
Today, Marymount continues its unwavering commitment to serving others by actively engaging students to become involved in their communities through the Saints Center for Service. The on-campus Center facilitates collaboration between Marymount and surrounding organizations by providing programs and resources for students to join the broader community in educating and enacting a more just and equitable world.
The Center’s work includes more than 235 service events, amounting to upwards of 16,000 service hours in partnership with more than 55 community organizations, including AmeriCorps.
“Marymount is thrilled to congratulate our alumnus, Michael D. Smith, in his new role as CEO of AmeriCorps,” said Kelly Dalton, Director of the Saints Center for Service. “The Saints Center is proud to offer AmeriCorps opportunities to our students through grants that activate Marymount and our partners to work together to make an impact on poverty in our local communities. Through our collaboration with AmeriCorps and local community partners, our students are able to provide meaningful service and build capacity for community empowerment.”
As the nation continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, AmeriCorps and its more than 250,000 members and one million alumni have been actively finding solutions to societal hardships – from working alongside teachers to keep students in school and engaged, to supporting health professionals by distributing PPE, to staffing food banks and social service organizations to address hunger and other basic needs.
“Going forward, AmeriCorps will continue to focus on harnessing the power of service to ensure we build back better,” Smith said. “As MU Saints know, volunteers get as much out of service as those that are being served. Don’t wait – the world needs you right now, just as you are.”
The Marymount community is encouraged to visit the Saints Center for Service for more information on how to get involved. For opportunities to support and work with AmeriCorps, visit AmeriCorps.gov.