Kem R. Smith, CPA, recently was appointed as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Township Auditorium.
She is serving a five year term on the Bboard which oversees the public arts venue.
A member of the Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce, Smith was appointed to the Township Board of Trustees by members of the Richland County Council.
A self-described business minded arts supporter, Smith believes her background was a plus when the board considered her as a potential member.
Smith said her love of the arts was cemented during her childhood in Germany where her father, Colonel George Rankin was stationed in Bremerhaven, Germany.
There was no television available, she said, “so the entertainment focus was on the performing arts involving the entire community.”
During that time, Smith became passionate about sewing, fashioning clothes for herself as a teen.
She later applied the skills of smocking and heirloom sewing to create not only dresses for her daughter, but also costumes for ballet performances at the Township Auditorium, Koger Center, and the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts in Greenville.
A magna cum laude graduate of Furman University in 1977, Smith earned her Certified Public Accountancy License and entered the working world of regional accounting firms.
“In 2001, I left the security of a well established company, in which she was a partner, to form my own tax, financial planning and accounting firm in Blythewood,” she said. Serving on boards and committees is not a new task for Smith.
She is a member of the NATP (National Association of Tax Professionals), NSA (National Association of Accountants), and GFOA (Government Finance Officers Association) as well as the Fairfield County and Blythewood Chambers of Commerce and is a Founding Member and Treasurer of the Blythewood Historical Society.
Prior to her appointment to the Board of the Township Auditorium, Smith served on the Board of Carolina Ballet for 10 years.
She said, however, that her most rewarding volunteer work happened abroad in 2010 when Smith worked in a rural village in Ghana, West Africa, teaching junior high students.
Smith taught math, reading, English and sex education there and also presented a sermon to the students, which she said was a rare honor.
The trip moved her so that when she returned to the United States she applied her business background to global outreach.
In December 2010, Smith formed the non-profit organization Habit for Thinking, LLC to raise funds and collect supplies for the citizens of New Akrade.
Thus far, Smith has shipped 28 boxes of books to the village’s new library, provided school supplies for the children and raised funds to have four local village seamstresses create new school uniforms for each child at no cost to the families.
In that area uniforms are required for students to attend school, an expense out of the reach of many families there.
She also employed local seamstresses to make the uniforms, which helped the local economy. Smith also started a pen pal program between children at Langford Elementary School and the junior high students in New Akrade, Ghana.
Though she loves reaching out on a global scale, Smith also is much aware of the needs of residents in this area of South Carolina, particularly when it comes to exposure to the arts.
“I have served as the accountant for the Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce for several years and worked closely with Terry Vickers, President,” Smith said. ”I support arts and tourism activities in Fairfield County and hope to grow the relationship between the two historical societies (Fairfield and Blythewood) as part of my mission on the board of the Blythewood Historical Society.”
She is grateful for the opportunity to help the Township organization as it seeks to serve in an evolving arts situation for the Midlands and Columbia area.
She feels this position, which blends fiscal management, development, personnel matters, service matters, and contractual matters, is a great fit and ample use of her talents, passions and interests..