Dysfunctional family dynamics is DFW CEO Kay Smith’s expertise.

(Photo Courtesy of Kay Smith)

(Photo Courtesy of Kay Smith)

She grew up being the only girl with four brothers. With 12 family members in the cycle of incarceration, Smith knew she didn’t want to be part of that. Smith focused on raising her family; in her mid 40s she looked at life as an empty nester and decided to earn her GED.

With the success of completing her GED, Smith continued her education. She earned an associate degree in mental health at Tarrant County College, a bachelor’s in family science from Texas Woman’s University and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Tarrant County is the third largest county for released offenders in the state of Texas (behind Dallas County and Harris County).

With her degrees, she has founded Texas ReEntry Services (TXRS), a non-profit organization that helps reacclimate ex-offenders from local, state, federal incarceration into the general population.

Through grants, foundations and donations, TXRS provides housing and employment options, HIV testing, anger management, GED and parenting skill classes for 2,000 people each year. Her goal with TXRS is to create, “Safer and stronger communities by providing ex-offenders opportunities and means to become productive, contributing members of society.”

“Education is one of the major keys to create changes in our world,” said Smith. “When I was growing up, you didn’t have to have a high school diploma to get a job. Now, in order to get a good job that will sustain you over a period of time, you need a high school diploma to get you into any higher position in life. To have marketable skills, you must have an education and you have to start somewhere,” said Smith.

“I wouldn’t be able to do what I am doing at this point without the advanced education,” said Smith.

She credits the faith in her higher power to give her the strength to overcome a dysfunctional family and create a service to help the community.

Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at Examiner.com