Celebrating KCSOS’s Women Leaders: Toni Smith

Celebrating KCSOS’s Women Leaders: Toni Smith

  • March 27, 2023

As the saying goes, “the third times the charm.”

Toni Smith originally started her career in banking but transitioned to restaurant co-ownership before finally deciding she wanted a job in an industry that provided stability, valuable services to the community, and prioritized employee growth.

Since she knew her mother had worked at KCSOS and had always felt it was a wonderful place, Smith accepted an Account Clerk position in 1995. 28 years later, Smith has worked in a variety of roles, including Human Resources Manager, HR Coordinator, HR Director, and Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Staff Development, making her a human resources legend at KCSOS, in district offices around the county, and with colleagues throughout the state.

With previous leadership experience, lofty aspirations, and a keen understanding of her capabilities, Smith aspired to move onto leadership opportunities when joining KCSOS. However, even with this level of confidence, Smith quickly pointed out that it would not have been possible without the support of various mentors, including Sylvia Treanor, who retired from KCSOS as the Division Administrator of Human Resources, Christine Lizardi Frazier, and Mary Barlow.

“I knew that my previous experience would lead me to leadership, but I did not expect to get to the level I am at now,” said Smith. “I was only able to achieve this level of success because my mentors trusted my ability to learn, grow professionally, and succeed in the opportunities that came my way.”

Throughout her years working in the human resources field, Smith recalls benefiting from the expertise of those working above her, which helped when she had to make tough and courageous decisions. Smith even recalls experiencing bouts of self-doubt when moving into a new role or experiencing a particularly difficult situation.
Yet, she acknowledged the advantage of working for an organization like KCSOS, which employs many incredible people willing to share their vast knowledge, experience, and diverse backgrounds to help others succeed.

That level of support is what Smith will miss most about KCSOS when she retires later this month. Since she spent most of her career in Human Resources, she saw how the positive culture at KCSOS helped employees feel valued, regardless
of job title.

Additionally, Smith understands how lucky we are to work for an organization with an incredible reputation throughout the county and state.

When asked if Smith has any advice for those starting their careers, she strongly encourages employees looking to advance by building a solid reputation as someone who can consistently be relied upon to do what is needed. To her, remaining respectful, compassionate, and authentic are the best ways to get ahead.

“Don’t wait for the title to conduct yourself as a leader,” said Smith. “True leaders do not need a title or a position of power in order to have a positive impact on others.”