YWCA taps local talent pool for new CEO

YWCA Greater Cincinnati has announced the appointment of Rickell Howard Smith as president & CEO of the organization. She will begin her new role Feb. 1.

Rickell Howard Smith

The first African-American leader of the organization, Smith is a civil rights attorney with experience as a nonprofit executive director in racial justice advocacy serving the Greater Cincinnati region. She began her career in Cincinnati in 2006 as an attorney at Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio, rising to a number of prominent leadership roles serving women and children in the community. 

“We are thrilled to announce that Rickell Howard Smith will lead the YWCA Greater Cincinnati to serve our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women,” said Anne Mulder, board chair of the YWCA Greater Cincinnati. “As the fifth oldest YWCA in America, we have the great honor of serving our community to promote justice and dignity, and know Rickell has the experience and passion to do so.”

Mulder added, “We conducted a national search for our next leader and are pleased that our top selection was born and raised in Cincinnati.”

Most recently, Smith has served as founding executive director of the Center for Social Justice at Urban League of Greater Southwest Ohio. She also has served in leadership positions at the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Children’s Law Center, Inc. in Covington and the Ohio Justice & Policy Center. 

Smith is also active in the community serving as the past board chair of Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio, advisory board member for All-In Cincinnati Racial Equity Coalition and a member of the Hamilton County Economic Inclusion Advisory Council and the Cincinnati City Manager’s advisory group on policing. 

“I have long admired and supported the mission of YWCA Greater Cincinnati in my roles working as a civil rights attorney, nonprofit leader and racial justice advocate in the Cincy region,” said Smith. “I look forward to leading this historic organization and its efforts to eliminate racism and empower women in our community.  

A graduate of Howard University and Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, Smith and her husband reside in Cincinnati with their two children.


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