In Memorian: Patsy Smith

Apr 5, 2024Articles

We are deeply saddened by the recent passing of longtime literacy champion Patsy Smith. 
Patsy believed deeply that literacy underpins other social problems in our country. She said if you want to decrease unemployment, work on literacy.  If you want to solve homelessness, improve literacy.  If you want to reduce crime, focus on literacy.  
Patsy was a catalyst in creating the Leaders for Literacy Luncheon, an event that ran for 30 years and raised significant dollars for student services. She tirelessly recruited sponsors and encouraged friends to attend or otherwise support the event.  She also helped to create an Advisory Committee of civic leaders to help raise Literacy Pittsburgh's profile in the community. She was Literacy Pittsburgh's biggest cheerleader—always talking to friends and acquaintances about the value of our programs and urging them to get involved as volunteers or donors. 
"Every nonprofit leader dreams of having a board member like Patsy—one who has tremendous passion for the mission and is willing to carry the message to all her friends and relatives," former executive director Don Block explains.  "It was so inspiring to have her support for so many years." 
Patsy Smith was the longest-serving board member at Literacy Pittsburgh.  For over 20 years, she provided leadership and inspiration. She oversaw tremendous growth of the organization and many, many student successes. 
“Patsy was a mentor to so many of us during our 'new to the board' days,” remembers former board president Jennifer Fox Rabold. "She was a role model for giving of oneself.” 
Literacy Pittsburgh's students motivated Patsy. She was so proud of the tenacity of every student and excited about every goal achieved. One of her first volunteer roles with Literacy Pittsburgh was as an intake interviewer for new students. Don Block recalls, “It gave her an opportunity to interact directly with students and made a big impression on her.”  
Patsy's commitment to program growth and student achievement led her to serve on our Program Committee for many years. Her passion was our tutors and students. Because of her enthusiasm, she cultivated interest in our direct service work among board members. She was a strong advocate for spreading the word about how much tutors gained from working with our students. 
“Patsy was so genuine in her interest and love for those involved in the agency and the work—students, tutors and staff,” says Chief Program Officer Lori Como. “She inspired me to always want to do more for our students.” 
To read Patsy’s full obituary please click here. Literacy Pittsburgh is one of the organizations Patsy selected for memorial donations. If you wish to make a gift in her memory, please visit our website. 

Literacy Pittsburgh (formerly Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council) helps create better lives through learning. Recognized as a national leader in adult and family literacy, Literacy Pittsburgh is the largest provider of adult basic education in Allegheny and Beaver Counties. Last year, Literacy Pittsburgh helped more than 4,000 individuals acquire the skills needed to reach their fullest potential in life and participate productively in their communities. Literacy Pittsburgh provides free, personalized instruction in workforce readiness, high school diploma test preparation, digital literacy, English language learning, math, reading, and family literacy through one-to-one and small class instruction. Founded in 1982, it serves local adults through numerous neighborhood locations and its Downtown Pittsburgh Learning Center.       

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