Rickell Howard Smith. Photo provided

By Kat A. Steiner

YWCA Cincinnati 

The Board of Directors of the YWCA Greater Cincinnati on January 5 announced the appointment of Rickell Howard Smith as president and CEO of the organization, founded in 1868 to address issues affecting women, girls and people of color for 154 years. 

Smith, the first African American leader of the organization, is a Civil Rights attorney with experience as a nonprofit executive director in racial justice advocacy serving the Greater Cincinnati region.    

She began her career in Cincinnati in 2006 as an attorney at Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio, rising to prominent leadership roles serving women and children in the community. 

“We are thrilled to announce that Rickell Howard Smith will lead the YWCA Greater Cincinnati to serve our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women,” said Anne Mulder, board chair of the YWCA Greater Cincinnati. “As the fifth-oldest YWCA in America, we have the great honor of serving our community to promote justice and dignity, and know Rickell has the experience and passion to do so.” 

Mulder added, “We conducted a national search for our next leader and are pleased that our top selection was born and raised in Cincinnati.” 

Most recently, she served as the founding executive director of the Center for Social Justice at Urban League of Greater Southwest Ohio. She also had leadership positions at the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Children’s Law Center Inc. in Covington and the Ohio Justice & Policy Center. 

Smith is active in the community serving as the past board chair of Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio, advisory board member for All-In Cincinnati Racial Equity Coalition and member of the Hamilton County Economic Inclusion Advisory Council and the Cincinnati City Manager’s Advisory Group on Policing.

 “I have long admired and supported the mission of YWCA Greater Cincinnati in my roles working as a Civil Rights attorney, nonprofit leader and racial justice advocate in the Cincy region,” said Smith. “I look forward to leading this historic organization and its efforts to eliminate racism and empower women in our community.”

She is a graduate of Howard University and Temple University’s Beasley School of Law. Smith and her husband reside in Cincinnati with their two children. 

She will begin her new role on Feb. 1, 2023.

YWCA Greater Cincinnati is a nonprofit organization with the mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. For information, visit www.ywcacincinnati.org

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