Donor Profile: Donna Smith ‘70

Portrait of Donna Smith
Paper program for MBU's 1st annual women's symposium

Donor Profile: Donna Smith ‘70

Donna Smith’s ’70 journey to Mary Baldwin was not an easy one — it involved a full day’s train ride from Birmingham, Alabama, to Charlottesville, and then waiting at the station until there were enough people to take a cab to Staunton.

“But what I think helped prepare me was that overall experience,” Smith says. “The academics challenged me, but so did leaving home and going somewhere — and somewhere that was not easy to get to. The experience gave me confidence that I could manage by myself.”

A political science major at Mary Baldwin, Smith transferred to the University of Alabama, and following an almost 38-year career with the Southern Company, she retired as vice president of human resources and ethics at Alabama Power Company. She remains involved with activities in Birmingham, including an organization for victims of domestic violence, and also serves on the board of McKinney Communications Company and First U.S. Bank.

As someone who was once named one of “Birmingham’s Top Women” by the Birmingham Business Journal, Smith has become an advocate for women in leadership roles. “And I have to think that journey to leadership starts with being confident in college,” she says.

In 2018, Smith made a gift to the Women’s Leadership Symposium hosted by the Mary Baldwin College for Women at MBU. The inaugural symposium was held March 22-23, 2019, with the theme of “Finding Our Strengths in the 21st Century,” and the second symposium is slated for October 2020. Smith has also contributed to other areas of the university over the years and is an MBU Empowers Campaign Impact Investor.

“I appreciated the sacrifice my parents made to send me, and I’m happy to be able to give to people whose parents perhaps need some additional help to send them,” says Smith. “It’s a wonderful thing to continue to work with your alma mater, to continue to make the school strong, and to make opportunities available for other people.”