Growing up in a very small Swiss/German-speaking Mennonite community in Kansas, Patricia J. Smith, PhD, was always interested in things abroad that she did not have access to. She was a debater in high school, and her school had one of the best debate teams in the state. Debate was one of the things that triggered her interest in foreign things. Since 2009, Dr. Smith has been the sole photographer of her own business, Patricia Smith Photography, in Seattle. Many of the photographs in her galleries come from Ocean Shores, Washington, a small beach community with six miles of beach on northwest Washington’s Pacific coast. A passionate traveler and student of cultures and places, she has lived and worked in Berlin, Romania and New Zealand. She worked and traveled in Eastern Europe both during the communist era and after, and she continues to document the region and the transitions, including German reunification, with her writing and her camera.
Additionally, as a writer, Dr. Smith authored three books, “After The Wall: Eastern Germany Since 1989 (Eastern Europe After Communism)” in 1999, “See How She Runs: Effective Political Techniques” in 2011 and “Revolution Revisited: Behind the Scenes in East Germany, 1989” in 2014, as well as a dissertation titled “Democratizing East Germany.” She has always been interested in change, and she went into political science because of a professor who inspired her.
Prior to the start of her professional career, Dr. Smith pursued a formal education at Indiana University, earning a Master of Arts in 1969. The experience that inspired her to go to graduate school was when she went on a trip with a singing group in 1986. It was a trip where they were spoke to people in eastern Europe about peace issues. Through this experience, she traveled to the Soviet Union, Hungary, Estonia, Eastern Germany, Czech Republic and Poland. Dr. Smith went on to matriculate at the University of Washington, where she attained a PhD.
Active in her local community, Dr. Smith helped found the Gallery of Ocean Shores in Washington and the North Beach Singers, a popular singing group. Additionally, she is involved with the League of Women Voters and the Women in International Studies. In light of her many achievements, Dr. Smith received the IREX Dissertation Fellowship. Moving forward, she hopes to continue traveling and writing more. She is also working on learning French.