​Silissa Uriarte Smith brings a pioneering and inclusive spirit to DLBA, along with a diverse educational and professional background.

Serving on the Special Events and Sponsorship Program Committee, Uriarte Smith is intent on helping create structures and systems that make it easy for local organizations to tap into DLBA resources and partnerships “so we can all continue to get past the pandemic and truly be a community again — the way we were meant to be,” she said.

In an effort to facilitate Downtown togetherness, Uriarte Smith and her committee colleagues are working on a new sponsorship request form so that more businesses, neighborhood groups, and nonprofits in Downtown can request much-needed resources for events and programming.  This is in line with the organization’s strategic plan, updated last year, to rethink DLBA’s role in the production of events.

Uriarte Smith is a consultant and coach at 360 Collaborative Solutions, a community-based, purpose-driven consulting firm.

In addition, Uriarte Smith is a Parks and Recreation Commissioner for the City of Long Beach. She also is the first Latina on the Board of Trustees of her alma mater, Stephens College.

Born and raised in North Orange County, Uriarte Smith attended high school in Fullerton, then spent a few years as a theater major at Fullerton Community College.

“Yes, I was a ‘languisher’ back then,” she said jokingly.

She eventually transferred to Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, which is the second-oldest women’s college in the nation.

“I had a fantastic experience at a single-sex institution where I received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and minored in Mass Communications,” Uriarte Smith said. “I was provided unique and privileged opportunities, for which I am forever grateful.”

Uriarte Smith augmented her education by earning a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Chapman University. Her executive leadership training and professional development experiences include working with MANA, a national Latina organization, the fellowship program AvanZamos, and HOPE’s (Hispanas Organized for Political Equality) Leadership Institute.

A resident of Long Beach since 1999, Uriarte Smith was invited by her friend and colleague Rhonda Love to bring her high-level leadership and fundraising skills to DLBA through participation in the Special Events and Sponsorship Committee. She strongly encourages Downtown stakeholders and community members to connect with DLBA. “Start simple, by attending a committee meeting,” Uriarte Smith explained. “As I have learned during my somewhat public career, actively listening and learning what folks are working on is a great start. Your participation can make a huge difference. Be brave!”

Uriarte Smith’s favorite off-work pursuit is traveling. “One of my pandemic promises to myself was to travel internationally,” she said. “This past December, before Christmas – or else my Mexican Mom would have been upset –I was able to go on a river cruise to Germany and France and had an amazing time. There is the possibility that I may go to Paris and Berlin in November with one of my besties but don’t want to jinx it. I am incredibly grateful to have the space and grace to travel.”