Local coordinator selected for Southwest Rural Philanthropy Days

By Kirsten Le Roux

Special to The SUN

Kristi Smith Kristi Smith

As preparations for the Southwest Rural Philanthropy Days (RPD) are well underway and all efforts focused on mid-June, newly appointed coordinator Kristi Smith already has a firm hold of the conference reigns, bringing a wealth of event management and national conference experience to the role.

The RPD’s southwest region of Colorado comprises the five counties of Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma and San Juan. Sixty volunteers representing nonprofits from the southwest have come together, combining their vast skills to stage the three-day, 400 delegate conference, and Kristi has been tasked with coordinating their efforts and liaising between this organizing group and the facilitator CRC (Community Resource Center).

Kristi says of RPD, “individuals in the not-for-profit arena want to be understood for what they’re really achieving and for their vision. They are more than just a form they fill in for fund requests. RPD is an incredible opportunity for them to get face-to-face with actual funders and to have a conversation that conveys their passion and their need.”

Kristi and her family moved from Nebraska to Pagosa Springs at the end of last year. Shortly after, Kristi was appointed to the role of SWRPD event coordinator.

“I have a servant’s heart. To help others fills my cup.” says Kristi, “Being in Pagosa Springs has made me feel like the luckiest person in the world. I have never met a more eclectic mix of people; there is so much color in the lives of everyone I talk to and in the environment. People here are willing to make a difference in the world and are starting by trying to make a difference in their community — it’s a rarity, they are convicted in their spirit of service.”

Kristi has the added advantage of having lived in Silverton for two years where she ran a successful concierge and event management business; this is also when she fell in love with the southwest’s mountains and mountain towns.

However it was her last role at National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) that really equipped her for this position, as Kristi notes, “At NCHC there were only six of us to stage an annual 2,000 delegate conference, so it’s a unique and special situation to have 60 volunteers contributing to the success of this RPD conference. I feel like a small, central cog in a big, fast moving wheel. It’s a pivotal role that relies on every spoke holding up their part. It is such a blessing that the first people I met here are the RPD committee volunteers, in my opinion the most passionate in the community.”

Kristi’s experience with events on a larger scale at NCHC has given her the experience and best practice to bring fresh ideas to the role. She is very tech-savvy and has turned the event as paperless as possible, creating a history of everything in the effort to leave a legacy for the next conference in four years’ time. In the short time she has been at the helm, she has put her stamp on the social media and technology aspect of the event, even developing a mobile phone application for the conference.

The 2014 Southwest Rural Philanthropy Days conference will be held in Pagosa Springs from June 11-13. For more information, visit the website www.southwestrpd.org.

There are many ways to get involved in SWRPD. If you would like to volunteer at the conference, register as a nonprofit, join as a funder, sponsor the event or attend as a vendor, please contact southwestrpd@gmail.com or call Kristi Smith, event coordinator, at (402) 417-3585.