Executive Director, Gaye Smith

Born, raised, and educated in Georgia, Gaye Smith views her mission of improving conditions for children, families, and communities as a personal responsibility. She considers leaving Georgia a better place than she found it as a debt she’s repaying to the state that gave her and her family so much.

Gaye was appointed executive director of Georgia Family Connection Partnership (GaFCP) in 2001 after serving as president/CEO of Parent and Child Development Services Inc., in Chatham and Effingham counties. While in Savannah she was a consultant for the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Making Connections Initiative, and served as interim executive director for the Chatham-Savannah Youth Futures Authority, a community-based collaborative organization, which later joined the Georgia Family Connection statewide network.

Under Gaye’s leadership

  • The Annie E. Casey Foundation designates GaFCP as Georgia’s KIDS COUNT grantee.
  • The Brookings Institution presents GaFCP with an international Innovation Award for programs that effectively use information to drive change in their communities.
  • American Journal of Community Psychology publishes the GaFCP evaluation team’s studies.

Always looking for new ways to improve our disciplined model of collaboration, Gaye led GaFCP on a statewide listening tour in 2011. Representatives from GaFCP visited Collaboratives in all 159 counties to tap into their wisdom and local perspective before restructuring our technical assistance, resources, and identity.

Gaye regularly educates leaders, legislators, investors, and practitioners on the value of collaboration in driving community improvement, the significance of measuring and communicating results, and effective techniques for engaging partners.

The American Society for Public Administration named Gaye Public Administrator of the Year in 2010, and in 2009, Grantmakers for Children and Youth invited her to Washington D.C. to participate on a panel before a group of national foundations. She presented the state and community perspective on effective ways to support communities and nonprofits in cooperation with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

She received the Georgia General Assembly’s Legislative Services Award for her work on behalf of children, families, and communities in 2008.

A native of Athens and a die-hard Dawg, Gaye received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from North Georgia College and State University, Dahlonega, and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Georgia. She began her career in social services with the United Way of the Coastal Empire, where she was vice president of Planning and Allocations.

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors, comprised of leaders in business, communication, law, health, and education, bring into focus our vision—both long and short term—where we’re going, where we are, and what we can be. The Board also has a fiduciary responsibility to protect the investment people make in the state of Georgia through GaFCP.

Executive Committee

Chair: Bryan Williams
Market President, Synovus Bank

Vice Chair: Kathleen Bowen
Legislative Associate, ACCG

Secretary: Kenny Ruffin
Councilman, City of Riverdale

Treasurer: Jon Collins
Executive Director (Retired), Adult Education, Chattahoochee Technical College


Pamela Benford
School Social Worker, Morgan County Board of Education

Pete Colbenson

Jamie Loyd
Vice President, Economic Development, Columbus Technical College

Board Members

Natalyn Archibong

LaMarva Ivory
Deputy Commissioner/External Affairs
Georgia Department of Human Services

Jacquie Morgan

Ex-Officio Members

Dana Rickman
President, Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education

Erica Fener-Sitkoff
Executive Director, Voices for Georgia’s Children

Rick Horder
Partner, Kazmarek Mowrey Cloud Laseter LLP

Laura Wagner
Community Outreach & Partnerships Director, Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning