EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CHILD DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION
CHARITY OF CHOICE: Child Development Association
Written by Heather KW Brown
Even as a child, Donna Smythe saw the world from a different perspective.
“I can remember volunteering on my dad’s shoulders,” said Smythe, executive director at Child Development Association. “That’s how I was raised.”
Smythe credits her passion for helping others to her parents, both youth group leaders who were community-minded and dedicated to education. From Girl Scouts to hosting her first fundraiser in fifth grade, Smythe has followed in her mom’s activist footsteps, enthusiastically carrying on her father’s rock solid values. While her résumé is impressively packed with achievements and accolades, Smythe admitted that Child Development Association (CDA) is the ultimate experience.
“A wall in my office is a window overlooking the playground. It makes it very easy to come to work,” said Smythe, adding, “There’s nothing better than investing in children.”
CDA is a 45-year old organization that, in Smythe’s tenure, has blossomed from a basic childcare center to an outstanding NAEYC accredited early learning center, indicating that the organization has met the highest national standards for exceptional quality in early childhood education.
“Our Pre-K children matriculate to more than a dozen different elementary schools,” Smythe said, emphasizing that parents of these children make great sacrifices to ensure a quality education. “We serve low-wage earners who are working very hard to achieve economic stability for their families.”
These parents who stock the shelves and build homes throughout the community are motivated to provide a quality education for their brood, but often can’t. Again, Smythe has been the catalyst, establishing programs such as Kids Express, which offers drop-in care at Fulton County government buildings and Parents as Teachers, where certified educators go into homes with an age-appropriate curriculum.
Not surprisingly, all three of Smythe’s grown daughters are following in her footsteps of impacting the lives of others.
Smythe is wearing Ming Wang black lurex evening jacket with embellished ruffle lapel with black “Demi” sheath dress; Shane Co. sterling silver multi-chain necklace and bracelet, 14k white gold diamond ring and earrings, and 14k white gold diamond tennis bracelet.