Updated: Mar 3, 2020
Athens, Georgia—Fred O. Smith Sr., a retired Georgia Department of Labor official, has been named Executive Director of the East Athens Development Corporation. The Board of Directors unanimously voted for him to assume the position during their Feb. 17 meeting, effective immediately. Smith served 18 months as Interim Executive Director of the organization.
“We look forward to continued progress in our quest to bring improved access to economic opportunities and community preservation and improvement to the citizens of East Athens and beyond,” board chairwoman Dr. Diane Dunston said. “We appreciate Mr. Smith’s skills and dedication.”
Smith reports to the board and is responsible for day-to-day operations, which include managing staff and committees, as well as developing initiatives and partnerships that support the organization’s mission.
“There’s a renewed energy emerging in the community around EADC,” Smith said. “I’m honored to be a part of the growing can-do momentum."
"EADC is having a measurable positive impact in the lives of the youth and adults we serve. We are confident the impact will continue to grow in the coming months and years,” he added.
Smith brings a broad range of professional experience and grassroots involvement to the role. He spent more than 30 years in state government, retiring in 2013 as District Director of the Georgia Department of Labor. He oversaw a multi-million-dollar budget and more than 100 employees. His district, responsible for career and unemployment services to citizens in 27 Georgia counties, encompassed the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA) and the Northeast Georgia Region.
Prior to his appointment as District Director in 2008, he was a Regional Representative in the Labor Department’s Career Development Division in Atlanta where he provided technical assistance and support to the state workforce areas. He also served on the Labor Department’s program review and data validation teams.
Previously, he spent 14 years in Athens as a Regional Administrator in the Georgia Department of Community Affairs’ Rental Assistance Division. In 1993 he was promoted to the central office in Atlanta where he designed and headed DCA’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program. A savings incentive program, FSS encouraged and supported economic independence by families receiving federal rental assistance. Under Smith’s leadership, numerous low-income family members gained jobs or better jobs, furthered their education, and started escrow savings accounts; several went from receiving public housing assistance to homeownership. Smith holds a degree in sociology from Augusta’s Paine College (1975) and a master’s in journalism and mass communications from the University of Georgia (1978).
His community involvement includes Co-Founder of the Athens Area Black History Bowl. He is a member of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), serves on the board of the Athens Historical Society, and is a member of Clarke NAACP education committee.
A supporter of higher education for under-served students, the local scholarship committee he chairs has raised more than $25,000 since 2013, for Paine College and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF).
He’s the recipient of numerous awards including the 2019 Dr. Ray McNair Lifetime Achievement Award and the Zeta Beta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity’s 2018 Athens Citizen of the Year. In 2017, he, along with his wife, received the University of Georgia President’s Fulfilling the Dream Award. The NAACP awarded him the Ralph Mark Gilbert Award for his activism on behalf of the enslaved people burial grounds on the University of Georgia campus.