The Stalwart




Kendra Smith, AICP, MPH, MSUS is a native of Euclid, Ohio which is a city just east of Cleveland. She comes from a close and loving family of two children. Her history is still being written but she has already secured a legacy of giving and is a brilliant young executive looking to make an impact in the communities in which she serves and lives. Kendra has been in Toledo since 2016 and is making a significant difference in our region. Among other accolades, she is a 2023 Milestone’s Award winner identifying her as a Woman on The Rise. This award presented by the YWCA of Northwest Ohio, recognizes women who are leaders in our community and Kendra is a leader in every sense of the word. In her current role as Vice President of Community
Health at Bon Secours Mercy Healthcare, she is responsible for providing access to programs that positively affect communities from a holistic approach. Just recently, her territory of responsibility grew and now includes the entire N. American footprint which covers several states. She considers both healthcare and social perspectives when collaborating with partners and works hard to realize bold goals of fostering healthy communities.

Kendra attended Ohio University where she received her undergraduate degree double majoring in Political Science and International Relations with a specification in Spanish. During her junior year, she was fortunate to study abroad and moved to Pamplona, Spain where she lived with a host family with whom she stays connected. It was there that she gained a passion for travel and for community outreach. Her goal before going abroad was to study for the Foreign Service exam and eventually work for the US State Department. However, during a community service exercise, she became intrigued by her desire for assisting people in the community relative to housing disparities and ultimately couldn’t shake the tug on her heart and changed her career focus.

Upon graduating with her undergraduate degree, she returned home and began her graduate studies at Cleveland State in the Urban Planning Program. It was there that she worked for a Community Development Corporation as a community organizer and eventually moved on to Chicago to work for another like organization focused on Construction Management. This role taught her to appreciate many things one of which is the relationships she cultivates. While in Chicago she was responsible for eight counties and developed connections within the community through teaching residents the community planning process. Their collaboration provided access for citizens to participate in decisions about what their community should look like. Something Kendra is very proud of accomplishing.

Kendra was encouraged to relocate by a college friend and was hired by the Toledo Museum of Art to lead a project that was part of their engagement focus enabling access from urban communities to the museum. The success of her endeavors led to her accepting additional responsibilities as the Director of Individual Giving. Kendra acknowledges that the relationships she has been blessed with has had a positive and long-lasting effect and as a new transplant to our area these museum donors became friends and took her under their wing to get her acclimated to our region.

As she continued to grow in her knowledge of opportunities and people in Toledo, that role led her to another level of leadership which took some introspection and serious consideration. But in the end, the opportunity to grow as a leader was the determining factor and she took a leap of faith. Kendra was offered the role of Executive Director of Social Determinants of Health for ProMedica Healthcare Systems where she was responsible for program development for the Ebeid Center. After implementing these programs, she was recruited to her current role of VP of Community Health at Mercy Bon Secours.

Kendra sees this role as one where she can be autonomous in the strategic identification, design and implementation of impactful services to the community. She focuses on supporting and improving neighborhoods through building strategic relationships with partner organizations. With Mercy’s philanthropic opportunities Kendra is using all at her disposal to build well rounded strategies that encompass the entire family’s health and ecosystem.

Recently, Mercy Bon Secours invested $3 million into the neighborhoods of Central City Toledo for housing improvement projects. This idea was initiated by Kendra as she reached out to Suzette Cowell at Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union to create a program which provides homeowners revolving, low interest loans for making home repairs. These homeowners will also have access to a free well-rounded financial education. Kendra wants to invest in people, where doing so helps to build communities that thrive. Her first goal is to make sure that Mercy clients and communities get access to the best healthcare services while providing access to supplementary services that will make their lives whole and remove barriers to sustainable living.

Kendra currently serves on the Lucas County Toledo Library Board of Directors, Harbor Behavioral Health Board, TARTA Board of Directors, Habitat for Humanity, Toledo Rotary, Leadership Ohio, Federal Reserve Board of Governors, and a proud member of both Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and The Links Incorporated. She sees her strength as a convener of building relationships that affect positive change in communities. She loves having an opportunity to use her network to expose Toledo to other parts of the nation and to identify synergy and bring forth new ideas that benefit society in general. She strongly believes that people see things in you that you don’t necessarily see in yourself which is why she has always taken the chance to listen to others when they say, “maybe this new role would be a great fit for you.” She wants to continue to assist organizations in building operations and strategies through non-traditional partnerships and is intentional in taking time to devote to reading, traveling, and her family and friends. Kendra, congratulations on all your accomplishments and we will continue to lift you up as you lift us all.

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