Meet teamHMA! Kelly Smith, Development Manager

Kelly Smith,  HMA Development Manager

Kelly Smith,
HMA Development Manager

Art has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My mom was an art teacher for most of my childhood and her side of the family passed down creativity and artistic ability like most families pass down green eyes or a distinctive nose. I’m afraid the artistic ability was a little diluted by the time it got to me, but that’s ok because it left room to mix in my dad’s love for history and affinity for spending hours in museums, reading and analyzing every panel.

I get a lot of questions about my background and how I chose Development as a career. Before I joined the museum, I interned on several political campaigns and I was also the Public Relations chair for my sorority. I enjoyed both and I’ve found promoting an organization or selling a candidate is actually pretty similar to selling a museum program or initiative. The next question, “how can someone actually enjoy fundraising?” always seems to follow.


I have to say that “Development Manager” was not my childhood dream. No, that was to be Cinderella at Disney World. Fun fact, the height limit to be a princess character at Disney maxes out somewhere between 5’6” and 5’9” (I think they also frown upon sarcasm and people with a penchant for passing out in the Florida heat) so I’m afraid that dream was doomed around the time I hit 5th grade. But then again, maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it just looks a little different.

Do I get to traipse around a castle in a blue ball gown talking to animals and getting my wishes granted by a kindly old fairy? No, but I do get to work in a place that seems to have its own sheen of magic.

My wishes (museum funding targets) still get granted, but it happens through HMA’s members and our community’s fabulous and generous donors (I mean who needs fairy godmothers when you have invested, thoughtful, and supportive people like you all?!).

I don’t write fairy tales or sign starry-eyed little children’s autograph books, but I do get to write narratives and sign my name on the dozens of grants that help keep this museum’s incredible (and dare I say magical) programs funded.


I’ve yet to convince a troupe of mice to do my chores or sew me a gown for the ball (although we did have one of those and it was FABULOUS!) but I did get to lead yoga in the garden surrounded by all sorts of birds and beautiful nature.


I’ve seen infinite galaxies with Pat Viles. I’ve traveled to faraway lands and seen fantastical creatures through the lenses of Steve McCurry and Joel Sartore. I meet weekly in a library that would make Belle jealous. I’ve walked through history, traveled to world wonders, explored the inside of a staircase built from thousands of coffee stirrers, tasted teas around the world, and witnessed artist after artist transform a simple canvas into something much more simply by walking through the doors of a gallery less than 20 feet from my office.

And of course there was the time that I actually did dress up as a Disney Princess … just don’t tell the kids in the “Frozen” summer camp it was me (sorry Cinderella, I think Ice Queen fits me better anyway).


My job is a whirlwind of fundraisers, grant writing, events, volunteer meetings, rental planning, chamber and tourism meetings, and whatever else comes through my door on a daily basis. Next to that, Disney actually sounds a little dull.

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This post is # 39 of the 75 stories to celebrate HMA's 75 years.

Post written by Kelly Smith, Development Manager.