Theia Washington Smith | Executive Director | City of Atlanta’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative

thumbnail_TWS_HdshotTheia Washington Smith serves as the Executive Director of the City of Atlanta’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI). This newly launched initiative provides opportunities for entrepreneurial advancement and small business sustainability for women entrepreneurs in Atlanta. Theia oversees the totality of services offered by the Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, including the development and operational structure of its incubator – a best-in-class collaborative work space designed to house and curate young businesses, and empower them with the resources needed to fortify their growth, longevity and success in Atlanta’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. She works collaboratively with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and the WEI advisory board, a team of some of Atlanta’s most influential business leaders, to galvanize synergistic support from the public, private and education communities aimed at leveraging the initiative’s objectives. Theia’s leadership includes developing innovative strategies to position WEI as a vanguard of education, outreach and engagement to emerging business owners and future entrepreneurs, particularly minority women and women in underserved communities. With more than fifteen years of experience in developing and executing results-driven initiatives aimed at advancing opportunities for women, minorities and small businesses, Theia strives to invigorate women entrepreneurs’ contributions to high quality job creation and socio-economic prosperity within the City of Atlanta.

Theia’s previous professional career includes nearly a decade at Johnson Controls, Inc. (Fortune 68) and spans senior leadership roles in the strategic communications, public relations and business development fields. With Johnson Controls, her professional portfolio included support of the company’s $15B Building Efficiency division, with a focus on heightening the visibility of niche offerings, such as renewable energy and sustainable “green” initiatives. Additionally, Theia served as the Communications Chairperson for the Johnson Controls African American Affinity Network , a corporate resource group aimed at harnessing the influence and investment of African American employees nationwide, to attract and retain competitive minority talent in the Fortune 100 landscape. In this role, role, she maintained total creative oversight and managerial direction of all communications efforts, initiatives, events and campaigns aimed at generating corporate awareness and advancement of African American issues, particularly in the underserved fields of science, engineering and technology. Under her direction, the Affinity Network participated in its first “Do One Thing for Diversity” Day campaign in 2013, an annual event created by the United Nations Alliance of Civil Organizations (UNAOCO) to engage corporate level participation in a day of philanthropic action, in order to shed focus on diversity and inclusion issues on a global scale. She was awarded the “Leading By Example” Diversity Pioneer Award, in recognition of her efforts with the campaign. Theia also served as a member of the Johnson Controls’ Women’s Resource Network, a professional development and mentoring program dedicated to the advancement of professional women within the company.

Theia sits on several boards, including the Grady Health Foundation Ambassador Force, Georgia Institute of Technology’s Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts Global Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs’ Women Investing in Successful Entrepreneurship (WISE) and the Invest Atlanta Seed Equity Initiative. In addition to serving as a mentor with the “Her 2econd Chance” mentoring program, she has also volunteered her time as a Court Appointed Child Advocate (CASA) with the Fulton County Juvenile Court System and “My Sister’s House” division of the Atlanta Union Mission.

Theia is an alumna of Spelman College, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.