Future Foundation Atlanta

Future Foundation | Interim CEO, Permanent Benefits—Meet Carla C. Smith


We’re excited to announce that Carla C. Smith will serve as Interim CEO as I start my upcoming sabbatical beginning October 1, 2019. The sabbatical is an opportunity for me to recharge, renew, and grow as a person. But, more importantly, it’s a chance for The Future Foundation to do the same as an organization.

Research shows that for both the executive and his or her organization, a sabbatical is a chance to reboot and re-emerge stronger and sharper. A 2009 study entitled “Creative Disruption” surveyed 61 nonprofit foundations that have executive sabbatical programs. The results showed that when an executive steps away from an organization temporarily, handing the reins to an interim leader, the “creative disruption” that results increases the organizational capacity of the second tier of leadership, makes the organization stronger and more nimble, and allows it to benefit from a fresh perspective. The report ended by recommending sabbaticals “as a best practice in philanthropy for leadership development, succession planning, and organizational capacity building.”

I am so excited for The Future Foundation to reap all those benefits during my sabbatical—especially now that, after a thoughtful and thorough search, we have found the right leader to act as Interim CEO. With a background in the worlds of strategy, nonprofit services, business, government, and education, Carla C. Smith brings a breadth of experience that will test our assumptions and broaden our perspectives. She will also guide our aspiring leaders as they take on expanded duties to grow their skills. 

A licensed social worker, Carla started up operations in Atlanta for Youth Villages – a Tennessee based non-profit organization, served as a research and policy analyst for former State Senator and current Mayor of Augusta, Georgia Hardie Davis, and as the Deputy Director of the Georgia Senate Democratic Caucus, before becoming HR/Policy Director at Signature HealthCARE and Operations Manager for the Avondale Education Association. I recently spoke with Carla about her background, her goals for her tenure as Interim CEO, as well as her hopes for the organization’s future. Read on, and I’m sure you’ll become as excited as I am to have her with us. 

You’ve worked in several related fields—have they all been with an eye towards empowering young people?

Before I started a real career, a real job, I began volunteering with the Boys’ and Girls’ Club as an undergraduate at Paine college. I stayed on that path of working with children and adolescents throughout my career—it shifted more to the policy side in some instances and women’s issues, but still focusing on the same target populations. I always think about long-term sustainability and that the best place to set that foundation is with our children and youth, being able to provide them with opportunities and outlets to see more than what their current situation may be, to meet people that may have come from a similar background, or to see something completely new with fresh eyes. There’s something very inspiring about seeing the world through a child’s eyes as their horizons broaden. 

What motivates you to work with young people? 

I’ve had the opportunity to work with so many children and there’s just something inspiring and special about their resiliency that motivates me. As you progress as a professional, I think your perspective evolves from working with children to working for them. I moved quickly from providing direct service to working with legislators to create and change policies. Your mind shifts. It’s very passionate work. 

That’s a passion we share here at the Future Foundation! If you had to describe the Future Foundation in one word, what would that be?

Impact! The Future Foundation is committed to, and focused on, making a long-term, effective, and positive impact in the lives of the children they serve by ensuring they have the tools to become successful contributing citizens within the communities in which they live. After learning more about the Future Foundation, I was instantly drawn to the organization and its mission-centered objectives.

What are your goals and priorities for your time as Interim CEO?

Continued growth/stability, maintaining and strengthening our relationships with grantors, donors, partners, and those we serve, and, finally, preparing for our annual Keep it 100% Fundraiser so we can serve more children in this community!

And after your time as Interim CEO is up, where will you go from here?

I’ll continue to be of service to women, children, and families in the Metro Atlanta community. There’s so much work to be done to continue to move the needle for our children. But I always leave the absolutes of things in God’s hands—I don’t want to make God laugh by making my own plans!  

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