Kathleen McDaniel Smith, chief of staff for President James Ramsey, has been awarded the 2015 Women’s Empowerment Award. The honor recognizes women who empower other women and was bestowed on Smith at a Nov. 10 Women’s Center luncheon.
“Kathleen has been an ardent supporter of the Women’s Center’s mission and programs, especially the Kentucky Women’s Book Festival and the Kentucky College Women’s Leadership Conference. She’s a role model and relates well to everyone,” said Valerie Casey, the center’s director.
During Smith’s distinguished career at the University of Louisville she has served as a UofL board member, senior administrator and top presidential aide. She has worked with three presidents and been a key figure in the success of important and diverse university initiatives such as campus beautification, fundraising, strategic planning and development of research parks.
“Her achievements have been remarkable and she has done an incredible job of boosting the status of women in our community,” said Casey.
In 1981 Smith became an assistant to former President Donald Swain and, later, President John Shumaker. In her current role as chief of staff, her responsibilities include serving as executive director of boards and commissions and as an officer of several of the UofL Foundation’s corporations. In these capacities, she has secured more than $73.5 million in federal and state agency funding for campus transformation initiatives and research parks. Further, she has been instrumental in raising more than $51 million in private donations for UofL academic programs including a single donation of $10 million for the College of Business. In 2012 Smith received the College of Business Alumni Fellow Award.
She is a member of the UofL Alumni Association Board; an elected officer of the university’s boards; member of the Louisville Metro Parks Foundation Board; and a past gubernatorial appointed member of the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Heritage Council.
The Women’s Center Empowerment Award was established in 2012 to mark the 20th anniversary of the center. Past honorees include Vice Provost of Diversity Mordean Taylor-Archer and faculty member and former Provost Shirley Willihnganz.
English professor Mary Sheridan was also recognized during the luncheon for her work in promoting gender equity. She received the Dr. Mary K. Bonsteel Tachau Award for her commitment as a mentor and for creation of the UofL Digital Media Academy, a community engagement project that helps girls from underprivileged backgrounds build self-confidence and other skills through the use of technology. The prize is jointly awarded by the Women’s Center and the Commission on the Status of Women.