Ohio Dominican University (ODU) will hold its 114th Commencement ceremony at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 7, 2022. Approximately 200 students will have degrees conferred upon them as they are joined by ODU faculty, staff, alumni, and hundreds of family and friends in Panther Stadium on ODU’s campus at 1216 Sunbury Road, Columbus, 43219. Baccalaureate Mass will take place at 9 a.m. in the Sr. Mary Andrew Matesich, OP Theatre, located on the second floor of Erskine Hall.
Barbara Smoot, President and CEO of Women for Economic and Leadership Development (WELD), will deliver the keynote address. She also will receive the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa.
“Commencement is a time for us to recognize and celebrate a significant milestone in the lives of our students, as well as their valuable contributions to our campus community,” said ODU President Connie Gallaher. “As this new class of ethical and effective leaders prepares to embark on the next exciting chapter in their lives, I can think of no better person to address this talented group than Barb Smoot. Barb has been a key leader in working to break down barriers that, for so long, have impacted women in their pursuit of leadership roles within society, and her work has without question helped to strengthen our communities. As we continue to look for ways to create a more just world for all, it is my sincere hope that each of our new graduates and all in attendance are inspired by Barb’s address and the example she continues to set by living a life on purpose.”
Smoot is the first president of WELD, which develops and advances women’s leadership to strengthen the economic prosperity of the communities it serves. Under her leadership, the organization has experienced rapid growth and has been recognized as a Community Network of the Year by The Women’s Book. In her role, she serves as primary community liaison, overseeing fundraising, collaborative partnerships and development, and implementation of new strategic initiatives, including its national expansion.
Smoot earned a Bachelor of Arts in Physics from Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. She has more than 20 years of executive experience in the insurance industry related to strategic planning, profit and loss center management, line responsibilities, product management and business development. Smoot previously served as a Fellow in the Society of Actuaries and as Vice President of Business Development for Nationwide Financial’s In-Retirement Division where she led the development and implementation of IRA rollover strategies to retain customer assets from Nationwide’s nearly $100 billion Retirement Plans business segment and to attract new customers to the company.
Smoot is a 2020 YWCA Columbus Woman of Achievement honoree, was recognized as one of Columbus Business First’s Power 100 in 2019-2021, and was named Columbus CEO Magazine’s CEO of the Year for Small Nonprofits in 2017. In addition, she was named a Smart Business Smart 50 award recipient in 2016 and recognized as the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Columbus Women’s Business Champion in 2014.
Active in the Columbus community, Smoot has served on the Board Development Committee for the Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland and as a commissioner on the Columbus Women’s Commission where she chaired the Gender Equity in the Workplace Committee. She currently chairs the advisory board of Western Governors University Ohio, and has served on the boards of National Church Residences, Nationwide Federal Credit Union, the Martin Luther King Arts Complex, St. Joseph Montessori School, and WELD.