Inspired to her career out of a desire to help people in the community where she grew up, Parris M. Smith made a promise to herself that she would stay in Lorain County, Ohio, following the completion of her education in order to empower and grow the community that raised her. Embarking on her studies at Lorain County Community College, she earned an associate degree before joining Cleveland State University and graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology in 2013. She concluded her formal studies at Walden University, where she obtained a Master of Science in psychology, with a focus in public administration and social change, in 2016. Working throughout her time in higher education, Ms. Smith began her career as a medical internship coordinator for the education and youth development program and the workforce development program with Mercy Regional Medical Center in 2009. Maintaining affiliation with the Mercy Regional Medical Center until 2018, Ms. Smith also founded Trademark Consulting Group LLC in 2017.
Armed with considerable expertise in social justice and empowerment, Ms. Smith joined the Lorain County Urban League as a program manager in 2015. She rose to operations manager in in 2019 and became president and chief executive officer in 2020. The Lorain County Urban League was founded in 1978 and has 91 affiliates in 35 states and Washington, D.C., through the National Urban League. Ms. Smith now uses her position within the league to implement the mission and initiatives of the organization in order to empower African Americans and disadvantaged individuals and help them thrive through a combination of direct service and advocacy. Continuing to further her skills throughout her career, she achieved certification in advocacy through the National Urban League in 2020 and as a housing counselor with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2021.
Ms. Smith attributes much of her success to her faith in God as well as to being mindful of the opportunities that she is exposed to and the mentors that have guided her along the way. An avid supporter of local charities in Lorain County, she is a member of The Word Church and has also contributed her skills to a variety of other civic endeavors. Since 2017, she has served as a board member for Leadership Lorain County and is a founding member of their Connections Young Professionals Network. Looking toward the future, Ms. Smith hopes to expand the reach of the Lorain County Urban League to reach some of the county’s more rural areas through adding new locations and increasing the scope of existing programs and services. Her goal is ultimately to be able to help others create wealth-building opportunities that go beyond simply getting a job or buying a house and to truly develop meaningful entrepreneurial spaces.
For excellence in her career, Ms. Smith has been the recipient of a number of honors and accolades over the years. In 2021, she was notable recognized with the Outstanding Educator Award by the Lorain County Urban League, having previously been presented with the Rising Star Award by the National Urban League in 2019. Earlier, she had been inducted into the Best Class of 2017 by Leadership Lorain County. Above these awards, Ms. Smith considers the highlight of her career to be becoming president of the Lorain County Urban League. She had started out as a student in one of their programs and feels that, because of this history, she brings a unique perspective to her position that many do not have. Furthermore, Ms. Smith is very proud to have come around full-circle to give back so directly to the organization that helped her start her own career.