Ian Smith ’99
Appointed Parks and Recreation Director
There is nothing “typical” about Ian Smith ’99. In fact, it is the antithesis of who he is. And his current appointment as the newly minted Director of Wilmington, DE, Parks and Recreation proves just that. “Typically, a director may have been born in the city. Had relationships in the city or worked in the department before,” said Ian. But Ian arrived in Wilmington by the way of a few stops—the Bronx, NY to Bucks County, PA to Baltimore, MD, then to his current location.
Chosen by Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki because of his, “wealth of experience, infectious energy, and enthusiasm,” Ian said, “I appreciate the Mayor’s confidence in my ability to lead the department.” “I’m eager to listen to our employees and the community to strengthen existing programs, and to add to whatever we need to do an even better job serving neighborhoods, young people and families throughout the entire city.” He will also “…try to be what my team needs to keep evolving, growing, being efficient and having vision to do what we do at a higher level.”
Ian and his wife left Baltimore for Wilmington to be closer to her family and for him to get a fresh start after the passing of his best friend. “We were teachers at Calverton and Gilmore Elementary Schools and part of a music group called Brown Fish,” he shared, “But once he passed, I don’t know if [the relocation] was because of that, but I know it played a role.”
Since arriving in Wilmington, Ian’s accomplishments have been notable. He has been responsible for the daily operations and programs for the Youth Advocates Program (YAP), assisting 150 youth re-enter the community after detention. He has developed and managed afterschool programs using the Peaceful Alternative to Tough Situations curriculum, which teaches alternative methods for dealing with conflict, crisis and trauma. Ian has acted as Policy and Advocacy Center Liaison for the state of Delaware.
Ian has held management and community-based positions with YAP programs in Sierra Leone. In Baltimore he served as court-appointed support for young men (ages 14-18) who had been committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice and ensured his clients were complying with all areas of their court order, such as probation and drug treatment.
As busy as Ian is, he still finds time to volunteer. “Probably the greatest thing we do in America is volunteer. We volunteer more hours as Americans than any other country on the planet. So, I am always looking for opportunities to live in that light of the American way, which is to serve other,” he said humbly.
Ian said Coppin instilled volunteerism and the importance of being an active part of the community. He took full advantage of being at Coppin, “learning and all the other beautiful things in life.” For current students, “Pay attention to the things that make you happy and look for careers that allow you to do them.”