University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, College of Business
Having been raised by a single mother after her father died, Brenda Smith worked her way through college, sometimes the only female in her accounting classes. This personal experience, along with her inherent generosity, has led her to give abundantly to the cause of student success.
Smith’s strong affinity for the UCCS College of Business was born out of mentorship. Seeing her potential and initiative, one of her accounting professors, Dr. Kirk Wilcox, invested in her development as a young professional. In 2011, 35 years after she completed her degree, Smith spearheaded a fundraising effort to create an endowment in his name.
In 2006, Smith was approached by Steve Bach, ’68 alumnus and former Colorado Springs mayor, with the idea of founding an alumni association specific to the College of Business. The two, along with Dean Venkat Reddy, recruited a team of local accomplished alumni to form the early organization, as well as to invigorate the fundraising efforts surrounding the renovation of Dwire Hall, home of the College of Business. Since 1992, Smith has also supported a variety of UCCS scholarships.
Dedicated to her field of study, Smith spent more than 35 years at BKD, LLP, in Colorado Springs, which today is the 12th-largest accounting firm in the nation. During her tenure, she was appointed as the first female managing partner and also became the first woman to be elected to the company’s governing board. She continued her legacy of mentorship by taking two other women under her wing and training them to succeed her. Today, they have also been appointed as managing partners. In 2011, Smith left BKD to take on the role of chief operating officer at First Presbyterian Church, where she remained until her next venture.
With fresh water springs and dry air promising healing, Colorado Springs’ foundation is rooted in health and wellness. Smith saw an opportunity to embark on a new entrepreneurial pursuit in 2013 and, together with local health care executive Judy Mackey, purchased The Garden of the Gods Club. In addition to planning several capital improvements to the longstanding resort hotel overlooking the iconic Garden of the Gods Park, Smith and Mackey intend on constructing a 16,000-square foot wellness center. Staffed by two doctors, this center will offer naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, and massage therapy.
Few people have taken personal responsibility to build a vibrant and strong community like Smith has. She was the first female chairperson of the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, and while serving in her position, she cofounded the Chamber Nonprofit Partnership in 1991 to equip nonprofit organizations with resources and training to effectively fulfill their mission. In 1996, she founded the Colorado Springs Leadership Institute, which brings together influential and disparate leaders from across the community for an intense week-long training provided in partnership with the Center for Creative Leadership. Over the years, Smith has continued to be involved with several local nonprofits, and with each passing year, her legacy of building transformed and empowered leaders continues to grow.