Rhonda Smith, the current Executive Director of the California Black Health Network, is passionate about eliminating health disparities and driving change within underserved communities and communities of color to achieve health equity. As a master networker, orchestrator of results, and connector of people, she is a steady force in the face of adversity and uncertainty and discovering strategic opportunities amid challenging situations. Her desire to improve health outcomes and achieve project goals and objectives has led her to hold leadership positions for several successful community-based initiatives. These positions required forging strategic partnerships with state and local officials, policymakers, stakeholders, community and faith-based organizations, community leaders, etc.
She previously served as the Executive Director of the Life Serve Youth Foundation and as the Interim Executive Director for Integrative Medicine for the Underserved (IM4US). Before this role, Smith was the IM4US Board President-elect. Before her tenure with IM4US, Smith held the position of Consultant/Project Director for the LiveHealthy OC Initiative. This three-year initiative transformed the model of care of a network of FQHCs from a disease-focused treatment model to a prevention and wellness model to provide a whole-person care approach.
Before the LiveHealthy OC Initiative, Smith served as the Consultant/Statewide Project Manager for the Susan G. Komen® Circle of Promise California Initiative, an intensive four-year effort to identify evidence-based strategies to decrease the high mortality rate of African American women diagnosed with breast cancer and address disparities at the system, community, and individual levels.
Smith has also consulted on an NIH/NCI-funded breast cancer survivorship research study at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami, targeting the diverse population of Black women in the South Florida community. The study focused on evaluating the impact of stress management and wellness education on survivors within twelve months of completing treatment. Her responsibilities included marketing, P.R., community outreach and recruitment, and facilitating the study’s ten-week health and wellness education program to the control group cohorts.
Prior to her health disparities consulting experience, Smith worked in sales, marketing, learning and development consulting, and business management with companies such as Eli Lilly and DuPont. Smith has wide-ranging international consulting experience and managed client engagements and projects on five continents and in more than 20 countries for G.E., Office Depot, Johnson & Johnson, Bristol Myers Squibb, Glaxo SmithKline, Abbott Laboratories, Novartis, Rolls Royce, and Xerox Corp.
Smith earned her MBA in Marketing and Operations Management from the Colgate Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia and her B.S. Degree in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech. Smith served as the Mission Integration Chair for the American Cancer Society 2012 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk and was a member of the Baptist Health South Florida Breast Center’s Patient and Family Advisory Council. Smith is a Leadership Charlotte alumnus, Past-Chair of the Board of The Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade, and a past CEO Forum member of The Commonwealth Institute South Florida. Smith served on the 2007 NFL Super Bowl Special Events Committee, and in 2006 was named one of South Florida’s “25 Most Prominent and Influential African-American Women” by Success South Florida Magazine.
With the intent and action to serve the underserved, Smith has cultivated a career that addresses Social Determinants of Health and eliminates barriers to access quality healthcare services. She believes that in order to truly achieve health, equity requires systemic and structural change.