Alys Smith believes in the power of women working together to strengthen communities.
“We need to reach out to pull each other up wherever we can,” she says. “Because when you help one woman, you’ve actually helped a lot of women.”
An attorney and mother of two daughters, Alys has always had a heart for service. She and her husband, Brad, provided scholarships for first-generation students at their alma maters, the Ohio State University and Marshall University, and Alys served as a court-appointed special advocate for children while the family lived in California.
She and Brad also started their Wing 2 Wing Foundation, which focuses on education, entrepreneurship, and environment for the overlooked and underserved, primarily in Appalachia. Through their foundation, they fund organizations and nonprofits that are in line with their mission. Also through their foundation, they have partnered with West Virginia University and the State of West Virginia to start AscendWV, a remote worker program that encourages out-of-state workers to move to West Virginia.
While participating in a conference, Alys heard about the New Opportunity School for Women. She did some research, made a phone call to NOSW, and ended up joining the board of directors in 2021. She and Brad also became donors and have been instrumental in attracting other donations.
After stepping down as CEO of the software company Intuit, Brad became president of Marshall University in 2022 and the family moved from California to Huntington, West Virginia. “Ultimately we came to decide that if we wanted to live a life of purpose and impact, this was the place where we could have a greater impact than in the Silicon Valley,” Alys says. She knew that with her platform as Marshall’s first lady, she could impact Appalachian women in positive ways.
Alys is planning a Women Warriors Summit for October 2023 in Huntington. The conference will focus on preparing women to have courageous conversations on the “hard topics” they face at work and at home. She’ll also teach a courageous conversations class at the next NOSW residential session in June. And she became a guardian ad litem in West Virginia, which means she will represent foster kids in abuse and neglect cases so that the best interests of the children are considered by the court.
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