Barb Smith

Award: Leadership on Main

Year: 2019

City: Kent

A leader is someone who inspires others, who lifts others up and provides them with the direction, resources, and freedom to accomplish their goals and be part of the team. For these reasons, and many more, we are pleased to recognize Barb Smith with our 2019 Leadership on Main Award.

Barb was hired as the Executive Director of the Kent Downtown Partnership in May of 2009 and will be celebrating a successful ten years and a well-deserved retirement later this summer. Under her leadership, KDP has improved the appearance of downtown, created and honed its promotions, developed a solid fundraising strategy, and successfully recruited small businesses to the district.

While none of this is insignificant, if you ask me, Barb’s greatest legacy in Kent is the team that she has developed, led, and inspired over the years. She has become a student of the Main Street Approach and worked to educate the KDP board and volunteers about its merits. While she is integrally involved in all of KDP’s committees, she has mastered the art of leading volunteers by empowering them to be creative, productive, and focused on what inspires each of them to serve.

Barb has emphasized partnerships in everything she has done for KDP – the great relationships the program has with the city, downtown business and property owners, volunteers, and donors can all be credited to Barb’s relationship-oriented approach to community revitalization.

Barb loves to celebrate her people and their successes. She is quick to acknowledge the hard work of others and slow to take any credit for herself. It is this type of leadership that leaves a true legacy. KDP is an organization with many leaders, not just one – and each of them has risen to the occasion because they have been inspired by Barb.

As long-time volunteer Greg Haffner puts it, “Barb has organized us, inspired us, motivated us and kept us focused on improving Downtown Kent and preserving the history there. The pride within the organization reflects Barb’s leadership and is visible downtown.”