Dr. Pamela Smith, whose successful career in higher education, retail and health care management, and leading community organizations spans four decades and three states, has been selected as the 2018 Muskegon Community College 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient.
Smith will be honored on Tuesday, May 8, 2018, at the Alumni Awards Dinner on campus and will address this year’s graduates on Wednesday evening, May 9, at the 2018 MCC Commencement in L.C. Walker Arena.
Established in 1998, the award is the highest honor that MCC bestows upon outstanding alumni whose professional achievements, community service, and advocacy of higher education exemplify the foremost ideals of their alma mater. The honorees are selected by the MCC Alumni Relations Committee.
Since 2011, Smith has been executive director of the Pathfinders Afterschool Program in Muskegon Heights, MI, where she is responsible for marketing, fundraising and managing enrollment. During her tenure, the reinvigorated Pathfinders program has more than quadrupled its operating budget.
Smith graduated from Muskegon Heights High School in 1970 and attended Muskegon Community College from 1970 to 1972. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Ferris State University, a Master’s in Education from Wayne State University, a Master’s in Management from State University of New York (SUNY) Binghamton, and a Doctorate in Human Resource Development and Leadership from George Washington University. She completed all of her advanced degrees while working full-time jobs.
“When I enrolled at Muskegon Community College, my intent was to earn an associate’s degree and become a secretary,” said Smith. “I did not know, my MCC instructors and counselors would inspire and prepare me to achieve many more educational goals and to have so many opportunities that would put me on the path for a very successful, diverse and rewarding career. I owe much to MCC and it is an honor and a privilege to give back to this important community resource.”
She began her professional career in merchandising with J.L. Hudson Department Store in Detroit, MI, where she managed several departments with a gross revenue of more than $2 million dollars annually. She was promoted to oversee training and development in Human Resources and led those efforts at new stores which opened in South Bend, IN, Grand Rapids, MI and Saginaw, MI.
In 1982, Smith joined the SUNY Morrisville faculty as an assistant professor in the Business Administration Department. Over the next 14 years, Smith was promoted to associate professor and served as department chairperson. Under her leadership, Business Administration had the largest enrollment in the School of Business, the department was reaccredited, and the Business Advisory Committee was expanded to include women executives. Smith introduced the first Women in Management course on campus, as well as the Business Internship Program at the college.
In 1996, she took a position with nearby Cazenovia (NY) College as director of the Business Department. She oversaw Accounting, Business Administration, Information Technology and the award-winning Equine Department.
In 1998, she joined Ahold USA, a food retail holding company which operated TOPS Markets, Inc. in Buffalo, NY. As director of organizational effectiveness and diversity, Smith supervised the diversity training of more than 200 executives and 1,500 managers in Western New York and Southeastern Ohio. Additionally, she served on the TOPS Markets Community Outreach Committee and worked with community leaders and New York state legislators to open the first full-service grocery store on Buffalo’s south side in 20 years.
In 2007, Smith became the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for more than 13,000 employees at the Cincinnati (Ohio) Children’s Hospital.
In 2010, she returned to the Muskegon area after 35 years and continued her commitment to lifelong learning which was fostered by her parents, Alice and Malcom Smith, and by her mentor and instructor of business at MCC, Harold Gelderloos.
Within the community, Smith has served on the Queen Esther Baptist Church Sick & Shut-In Committee, the Vacation Bible School, the Muskegon Heights Optimist Club, the MCC Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Committee, the MCC Strategic Planning Committee, the Coalition for Community Development – Neighborhood Clean-up Committee, the Social Justice Committee, and MCC MLK Unity Day Breakfast Committee.
Additionally, she has helped to coordinate MCC Business Department’s Community E entrepreneurial training for Muskegon Area High School Students and has chaired ad planned Black History, Hispanic Awareness and Women’s History Month programs at MCC.