Meet the Panelists


The Uyeno Foundation’s virtual symposium is proud to have Kathy Smith as one of our panelists. Kathy Smith earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida in 1986 followed up by a Juris Doctor from the University of Florida School of Law in 1989. She began her law practice as an Assistant Public Defender in 1990 in the 20th Judicial Circuit. In 2008, Ms. Smith was elected Public Defender for the 20th Judicial Circuit serving the citizens of Charlotte, Collier, Hendry, Glades, and Lee Counties. In 2013, Ms. Smith earned a Master of Public Administration degree from Florida Gulf Coast University.

In addition to Ms. Smith’s role as Public Defender for the 20th Circuit, she is also very involved in the community. She is an adjunct professor at Florida Gulf Coast University teaching Constitutional Criminal Procedure. She has served on many boards including the Board of Directors for the PACE School for Girls in Lee County, Southwest Florida Addiction Services, Lee Mental Health Inc., Hope Clubhouse, and the Institute for Youth and Justice Studies through Florida Gulf Coast University.

Ms. Smith currently specializes in representing clients living with mental illness. She was honored with a Florida Senator’s Proclamation for her advocacy on behalf of mentally ill clients and is a past recipient of Advocate of the Year awarded by Lee Mental Health Inc. Her passion to assist clients living with and recovering from mental illness and substance abuse issues lead Ms. Smith to be appointed on behalf of the Florida Public Defender Association (FPDA) to serve on Florida Supreme Court’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health task force, as well as the Florida Supreme Court’s Treatment Court Steering Committee. Ms. Smith has also been appointed on behalf of the FPDA to serve as a Commissioner for the Justice Administrative Commission.

Putting her Public Administration degree to good use, Ms. Smith’s office has been a recipient of the prestigious Prudential Davis Productivity Award recognizing major government improvement initiatives for 2011, 2012, and 2013.

To hear more from Kathy Smith and the evolving mental health care crisis faced by frontline workers, join us on March 25th at 9AM for the Uyeno Foundations free Mental Health Virtual Symposium. Click here to learn more about our distinguished panel and register today!

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