The Smiths Pass Down a Passion For Giving Back

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Kristen Smith, Dr. Linnea Smith and Dr. Kelly Kimple. Photo by Briana Brough

*Originally published in our April 2017 Issue. In May, Kristen Smith accepted a position as the Advancement Communications Manager with UNC’s School of Government. 


Retired Psychiatrist

Giving back comes naturally to Linnea thanks to her having “the kind of personality that goes into the helping professions,” she says. “I went into medicine and then psychiatry so that’s my orientation.” One of Linnea’s passions is fighting back against sexually explicit media and she even cowrote a chapter in a book about the commercial sexualized exploitation of children in advertising. “I see it as critical,” Linnea says. “The more I learned about it, I thought, ‘This is an issue we have to address.’ I think it’s a human rights issue, especially for women and children.” Linnea has also served on the board for the UNC School of Social Work for many years. “I think the pleasure of being on that board is that you see a highly ranked school that’s teaching professionals,” she says. “And these professionals are going to go out and deal with some of the most difficult social problems that we have.” She’s supportive of all kinds of other causes from the ‘dementia-friendly business initiative’ to mental health. It’s a philosophy she’s passed down to her daughters – find your passion. “Kelly’s [area] is preventive medicine for women and children,” she says proudly. “Kristen is really an ambassador for the community. She advocates to shop locally and help small businesses.”


VP of Government & Community Relations, Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce

With a background in political campaigns and a desire to see her hometown thrive, Kristen’s job at the intersection of government relations and communications is the perfect marriage of her passions. “It’s about promoting chamber events, but it’s also about reporting back on what is going on in local government.” she says. “I want to make local government more accessible.” She works to bridge the gap by live tweeting from town council meetings and encouraging involvement and attendance. “When I’m good at my job, I get business people to those meetings so elected officials can hear directly from them,” she says. “That doesn’t always happen – sometimes I think my job is to represent the business community at those meetings.” On a personal level, the UNC grad serves on the board of Strowd Roses, Inc., Alamance-Orange Prison Ministry and UNC Board of Visitors among others and encourages others to find a board. “It’s an opportunity to give back and be involved,” she says. “But you also build skills and I think you become more of a leader on a board.” When she’s not checking out the latest spots in town, Kristen’s likely spending time with her family. “I’m walking distance from my sister, I pick up my nephew from daycare twice a week, I’m 10 minutes from my mom and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”


Interim State Health Director and Chief of Women’s and Children’s Health Section, the NC Division of Public Health

For as long as she could remember, Kelly always planned on going to medical school due to “a combination of fascination with medicine, the desire to care for others and growing up watching my mother tirelessly advocate for children.” Though she briefly considered going into something other than pediatrics, she says that thought vanished when she’d walk into the room of a child. The co-author of an easy-to-understand book on pediatrics, she recently left clinical care and her job at UNC for a move to the Division of Public Health in Raleigh. “I always found myself more engaged in the bigger picture of health, knowing the limits of clinic and hospital doors and the many factors in the context of one’s life that determines health,” Kelly says. “Rather than seeing patients and trying to find ways to address their specific social concerns, I am now thinking about these issues on a larger level and strategizing with others at the Division and throughout the state on how to approach problems such as infant mortality and health equity.”

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Jessica Stringer

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