DeBorah “Sunni” Smith, MS, JD, LLM
Adjunct Faculty, Management Department
As a transplanted “New Yorker,” I took a ten-year detour to work in the Nation’s Capital before officially becoming an Angeleno. Initially, I relocated to Los Angeles to accept and complete a CORO Foundation Public Policy Fellowship in 1992. I attended law school in Washington, DC at the Catholic University of America. Prior to studying law, I earned a Master of Science degree in Rehabilitation from Virginia Commonwealth University, worked in local DC government and on capitol hill as Communications Director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
After earning a Juris Doctor, I was offered a fellowship which included an opportunity to earn a master’s degree in Public Policy Law at Georgetown University Law Center through the Institute for Public Representation. The opportunity simultaneously involved teaching in a legal clinic, while supervising administrative law cases, representing undocumented immigrants seeking asylum; researching legislation like, the Americans with Disability Act; and bringing joint appellate cases before the DC Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of national nonprofit organizations such as, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF). Other highlights of my advocacy during the fellowship encompassed developing a public policy conference, “Race Gender and Power in America: A Retrospective of the Hill -Thomas Hearings” and arguing an appellate case against the FCC before “the Notorious RBG. ”
The CORO Public Fellowship afforded me the opportunity to work directly with the LA County District Attorney; UCLA’s Labor Center; SONY Pictures Entertainment Corporate Affairs; and with the LA Mayor’s Office of Economic Development. During the latter employment, I led international trade missions for LA-based, minority and women-owned businesses to South Africa and Columbia, South America.
Just before the millennium, I began teaching in an adjunct capacity at local LA colleges and universities including, West LA College, Santa Monica College, and Loyola Marymount University. After a stint as executive director for the regional office of the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), I launched a consulting practice that largely focused on organizational and business development in both the “for-purpose” and “for-profit” sectors.
By 2008, my work with organizations evolved into both a consulting and a coaching practice. Currently, as an executive leadership coach and organizational strategists, I provide professional services to a broad spectrum of clients. Years of training, facilitation and consulting have given me extensive experience in nonprofit management while working with organizations such as the Center for Nonprofit Management Los Angeles (CNM); the Third Sector Company; Consulting Personnel Services (CPS); and Kaiser Permanente. Further, teaching allows me to share working knowledge of, and subject matter expertise in, several public sector related areas including leadership; board development; succession planning; cultural competency; bias and inclusion; change theory; workplace harassment prevention; Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Conversational Intelligence® (C-IQ).
LLM, Public Policy Law, Georgetown University Law Center
JD, The Catholic University of America, Communications Law Institute
MS, Rehabilitation Counseling, Virginian Commonwealth University
On-line articles include:
“You Too Can Speak Truth to Power”;
“Crickets – What silence may really be saying in the workplace!”;
“Coaching Interfaith Clients”
Various commentaries on LinkedIn publications.
Annenberg Summer Faculty Fellow 1991
CORO Foundation Fellowship 1992
My history of work in higher education extends from early career positions in student affairs at Barnard College, Columbia University and Syracuse University. The foundation of my work in student life significantly fuels both my academic focus on leadership development and dedication to experiential learning. My subject matter specialty is facilitating the growth, development and success of professionals and individuals in public life. Therefore, I consider each student to be a leader in his or her own right, as well as an executive responsible for their own life. For me, a successful learning process is one of mutual accountability, infused with co-creative activities, and built on a foundation of transparency and trust. I place a high value on students being fully present and participating in course work as well as in the classroom. My aspiration is to be an inspirational “thought partner” and challenging team player in a transformational, learning process is fueled with critical thinking. It is my privilege to work in and contribute to the progressive educational, environment established at Antioch University.