Phyllis Smith-Pemberton, has more than forty-five years of progressive experience in the creation, organization, start-up, direction, financial management, project management, fund development and public relations of non-profit agencies and social service programs.
As the daughter of an Air Force Officer, she lived in both France and Germany during her high school years received her B.S. in speech and communications at New York University and studied for her Masters in Management (1988) at Cardinal Stritch College in Milwaukee, and studied law (2007) by correspondence in California. She won competitive scholarships to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York for acting/directing and to Winthrop University, SC for voice/music. She has been licensed to sell Real Estate, teach Secondary, Elementary and Special Education, and trained in suicide intervention and in hostage negotiation with the FBI.
In the '60's, she served as an entertainment/recreation director (GS-9) for the US Army in Korea and Vietnam for five years during which time she became the youngest recipient of the Sustained Superior Performance Award honoring her work in Korean-American relations by founding and building an orphanage in Tong du Chon, Korea. Her duties included club management at various sites near the DMZ and tour management for diplomatic, USO/entertainment tours and dignitaries for all of USARPAC.
Her experience spans a broad spectrum of social issues including founding, organizing and chartering a 24 hour volunteer crisis intervention service, work with YWCA's in Louisiana, Wisconsin and Ohio, Muscular Dystrophy, Cystic Fibrosis, Ohio Council on Ethics in Economics, Central Ohio Radio Reading Service, Economic Development Council of Clinton County (MO), and development of an 'business incubator' with the Waukesha Small Business Council in Wisconsin. She served as a national consultant to the USDHHS Office of Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) from 1992-1995.
In her capacity as Executive Director/Fund Developer with these organizations, Ms. Smith-Pemberton facilitated coalitions among city, county, state and national organizations serving disabilities, minorities, persons in crisis and Native Americans, and mental illness. She served as County (Parrish) chair of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in both Louisiana(1983) and Wisconsin (1994-5) and was the co-chair for the Ohio Disabilities Act in 1989.
In 1992, she formed the ARROW Foundation (American/Russian Recovery Options at Work) which was the only private foundation to participate in the White House initiative on Russia in 1992-93. This Foundation’s purpose was to facilitate coalitions, relationships and exchanges in the areas of health, refugees, education, agriculture and economic development to assist communities of the former Soviet Union in adjusting to their new realities. ARROW was funded by USIS, USIA and private donors to develop exchanges, work with alcohol/drug treatment and rehabilitation, deliver medicine and food for 15,000 refugees, building networks to assist in economic development. Since 1999, the ARROW foundation has partnered with Rotary International in a variety of programs. The most enduring of which, a micro-lending program for agriculture in Siberia, still continues. ARROW facilitated the establishment of the first AA and Alanon programs in Irkutsk, Siberia, fostered environmental changes to preserve Olkhon Island (the only inhabited island in Lake Baikal, Siberia, and support of several programs for displaced and disabled children in Siberia, including training of former Russian Afghan vets as leaders for an equestrian program for disabled and traumatized children. She was a Visiting Scholar professor of Public Relations at the Irkutsk State University’s Baikal Institute Business School 2001 and often lectured at its Institute of Social Sciences from 2000-08.
In 1996, she purchased a legal business which she has dedicated to providing low cost family law through coaching, mediation and advocacy serving folks unable to afford legal assistance. As a part of her social justice advocacy, she provided second stage housing and mentoring to 19 women on probation and continues with that advocacy now mentoring felons on probation in Fond du Lac County, WI.
As an active Rotarian since 1996, she has served as club and state chair for international affairs and club president. And, finally, she is the mother of two, grandmother of ten, with two great grandchildren.