Tami M. Smith
Founder and Executive Director
Tami Smith is not just another inner-city youth mentoring champion. She stands out.
The Chicago native and trailblazing grassroots activist has an energetic enthusiasm about her work that is contagious. Her passion for improving the lives of children and their families reveals itself in everything she does.
Inspired to connect and contribute in a meaningful way, Tami founded OPI in 2007. Since then, she has built a remarkable track record of enormous in-kind donations that has earned her a stellar reputation as a community leader. Under her guidance, OPI has amassed and dispensed merchandise collections worth over $600,000 from such sources as Bed Bath & Beyond, Panera Bread, Goodcity and Feed the Children. Her devotion to youth and families is demonstrated by the popular annual events that OPI sponsors, among them: Back-to-school supplies picnic rallies, holiday grocery distribution giveaways, youth concerts, Black History Month observances and Mother’s/Father’s Day recognition receptions.
Tami’s career encompasses a variety of professions from which she has gained an abundance of pertinent expertise, not to mention an extensive network of supporters, including: public and private educational institutions, the hospitality industry and the nonprofit sector. This comprises over 30 years of administrative positions with the City Colleges of Chicago, high schools, leading hotels, and the regional office of City Year, the premier AmeriCorps tutor/mentor organization working in dozens of Chicago Public Schools, where she served 10 years as its human resources and operations director, and Mather’s Cafe. .
Tami’s commitment to youth is imbued by her insistence that the best mentoring approach involves intergenerational collaboration. “Kids need exposure to the countless benefits of interacting with near-peers, matured adults and senior citizens. This mix provides a strong platform of community—woven with role model behavior, friendship, wisdom, love—all the necessary means to help youth grow up to be self-sufficient and productive.” With Tami Smith at the helm, OPI embodies this philosophy each and every day.