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Leslie Lynn Smith

profile picture of Leslie Lynn Smith
Commission Member, United WE-Ewing Marrion Kauffman Foundation Commission on Childcare and Women’s Entrepreneurship

Leslie Lynn Smith is a member of the United WE-Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Commission on Childcare and Women’s Entrepreneurship. She is also the Founder and Principal of Themis Strategic Partners, a consulting firm focused on developing actionable strategies at the intersection of equity and growth. Immediately prior to founding Themis Strategic Partners, Smith was the National Executive Director for GET Cities (Gender Equity in Tech) at SecondMuse Foundation. She remains a Senior Strategic Advisor to GET Cities. Her work is powered by a vision for American cities that leverages economic justice and inclusion to enrich and empower individuals, families and communities.

Smith was born in Detroit during the city’s 1967 civil uprisings. The city’s history of fighting for racial justice inspired her work to build a more fair and just society where everyone has equal access to economic opportunity. Her years of work, across the country, in economic empowerment and community-based business development shaped her view that local entrepreneurs are best equipped to solve the challenges in their communities and create a more just and equitable society.

Before joining GET Cities, Smith was the founding president and CEO of Epicenter, a nonprofit hub for the greater Memphis entrepreneurial community. In that role, she drove strategy for a network of economic-development, academic, corporate, and government partners to increase support for new and existing community-based businesses and entrepreneurs.

Smith was also president and CEO of TechTown, Detroit’s most established business incubator and accelerator. She helped to launch novel urban economic development programs, create tech-based companies, and launch robust regional entrepreneurship collaborations.

Smith was director of business acceleration for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, overseeing the state’s $300 million start-up investment portfolio. She also managed the statewide innovation economy and its partner network, including research universities, incubators, accelerators, and the philanthropic and private sectors.

Smith has been featured as a TEDx speaker as well as in Forbes, Fortune, and StyleBlueprint. She was named one of the Memphis Business Journal’s “Super Women of Business” in 2019. Her active board service includes the Center for American Entrepreneurship where she is Vice Chair, and the National Women’s Business Council at the U.S. Small Business Administration.