Shanna L. Davis Smith Inducted 1997 - Class of 1968
A 1989 article in The Toledo Blade described Shanna Smith as one "dedicated to change...one of the most powerful people in the local real estate industry...."Shanna built on that reputation and her expertise to then make an impact on a national level, where she has had great success. Tonight, we are proud to welcome Shanna into the WHS Hall of Fame.
Prior to attending Woodward, Shanna attended Spring Elementary and Hamilton Jr. High. She grew up within walking distance of the LOF glass plant, in a house at the corner of Buckeye and Paxton. "It was a well-integrated neighborhood, both economically and racially. We were situated such that we made friends in "Old North Toledo" (Riverside), as well as friends from the Manhattan/Wilson Park area."
Shanna's best friends while at Woodward were Mary Counter, Sandra Christopher, Carolyn Lake, Carol Duszynski, Saundra Edwards, Joel Sanchez, Rudy Garcia, Candy Burns, Gary Belcher, Diane
Groll, Lon Walls, Jim Grant and Shelly Searle. She remembers her high school years -- from 1964 to 1968 -- as "turbulent times when students were becoming involved in civil rights issues...fairness issues."
Shanna loved the camaraderie among friends, which was, and still is, a big part of high school life. She remembers humorous times spent sharing lunches with the football team members, and their conversations. She enjoyed being a cheerleader for the Class of 1968 because "we were a close knit, high spirited, interracial group of friends."
The most important event in Shanna's high school experience was meeting Glyn Smith, whom she later married. The most difficult thing she remembers was "dealing with the prejudice of some of the teachers." But there were two Woodward teachers, Ed Boblitt and Marie Williamson, who Shanna credits with greatly influencing her through their support. "They encouraged me to stand up for my beliefs and to pursue all avenues to attend college and be proud of my work. Marie Williamson was always "in tune" to the emotional highs and lows of her students. One afternoon, during a particularly difficult time, she whispered some great advice in my ear that had a profound effect on how I view and pass through difficult or trying situations."
Shanna's success after graduating from WHS is recognized and well chronicled. She has used her life experiences and beliefs in a career dedicated to ensuring fairness in housing practices and civil rights. In 1972, at the age of 25, Shanna became the Director of Toledo's then fledgling Fair Housing Center. During her 14 years in that position, she had an effect on the lives of many through groundbreaking investigations and litigation. The 1989 Toledo Blade article credited Shanna with "tackling block-busting, racial steering practices; financial redlining; neighborhood disinvestment; sexual harassment by landlords; and virtually every entry in the dictionary of unfair and discriminatory practices. She has pursued her goals with tenacity and intelligence." Shanna Smith was known as one who disrupted the easy, established routines of real estate brokerages and leaders with her aggressive, persistent drive to see to it that national fair housing and civil rights legislation was followed "to. . . the. . .I-e-t-t-e-r." "Those close to her know she walks her path independently, with more faith in convictions than conventions,” said The Blade.
In 1990, Shanna relocated to Washington D.C. to work for the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and now serves as its Executive Director. When she opened the office in 1990, there were only 35 members in the Alliance. The annual operating budget was less than $100,000. Today, NFHA's operating budget is $2 million. It has more than $1.8 million in reserves and more than 100 private, non-profit fair housing organizations as operating members.
Shanna's work as Executive Director includes obtaining funding for and supervising national fair housing projects; seeking grants for establishment of fair housing centers and investigations; and resolution of complaints. National media campaigns have helped the cause...resulting in a 50% increase in the number of discrimination complaints filed nationwide. In 1996, Ed Asner, Ruby Dee, Mary Chapin-Carpenter and Rita Moreno were the spokespersons for the national radio advertising campaign.
Shanna serves as an "expert witness" in fair housing cases and consults with private fair housing agencies. She provides fair lending training for the Federal Reserve Board's Fair Lending School, financial institutions, and fair housing agencies. She has negotiated with lenders in Fair Housing Act lawsuits and Community Reinvestment Act challenges. Shanna has testified frequently on mortgage lending and homeowners insurance discrimination issues before committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
Shanna married '67 WHS graduate Glyn Smith in 1972, after they both graduated from The University of Toledo. Glyn passed away in 1986. They had a son, Lance, in 1979; and a daughter, Leigh, in 1982. Lance is graduating form high school this year, and Leigh is an honors student in the 9th grade.
Shanna enjoys traveling with friends to great snorkeling spots in Hawaii and the Bahamas. She also enjoys going on "whale watching expeditions in Maui, Hawaii.
When notified of her selection for the WHS Hall of Fame, Shanna was "very flattered and grateful that someone working in civil rights would be recognized." Perhaps the best testimonial to Shanna's accomplishments would come from the countless citizens who have benefited from her tireless work. Many THANKS AND CONGRATULATIONS from them..... .and from us!