Meet Our New Team Member: Gwen Smith

Empower Missouri is growing, and we’re excited to introduce you to several new team members over the coming weeks. Today let’s hear from Gwen Smith, our Criminal Justice Policy Manager:

Hello everyone! My name is Gwen Smith and I am honored to be joining the Empower Missouri team as the Criminal Justice Policy Manager. In this role, I will manage the statewide Criminal Justice Coalition, composed of individuals and organizations working to reform Missouri’s criminal legal system. I will also lead Empower Missouri’s criminal justice-related policy research and legislative advocacy.

I am coming to this role after years of working with directly impacted individuals as a community based social worker. I have managed direct service and reentry housing programs, provided direct support to individuals incarcerated in jail and prison, and led local efforts to coordinate reentry support services. I believe that significant systemic changes are needed at every level of the criminal legal system to remedy the massive inequities perpetuated by the current system. We must think outside the box of incarceration in order to change the status quo, and dream bigger than what we believe is possible for Missouri. 

I look forward to working with the diverse community members that make up the Criminal Justice Coalition to strategize and organize around these policy issues. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me for any questions or simply to connect. 

In solidarity,

Gwen Smith
Criminal Justice Policy Manager

3 Responses
  1. Flora Fazio

    Welcome Gwen Smith and congratulations upon your role at Empower Missouri. I am Flora Fazio; a longtime volunteer Chairperson of the Social Justice in Action Committee at Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service in St. Charles, MO. I feel certain you may be familiar with our organization. Aside from our involvement at Empower Missouri, I wanted to inform you of the upcoming 36th Annual National Parents of Murdered Children Conference coming on July 21-24, 2022 at the Sheraton Westport Lakeside Chalet, 191 Westport Plaza, St. Louis, MO. A full conference schedule can be found at Additionally, the Murder Wall Unveiling and Welcome Ceremony will be on Thursday, July 21 at 6:00 p.m. This ceremony is open to the public.

  2. Mary Ann McGivern

    Welcome, Gwen. As I told you in an email, I have moved to Kentucky so I’m not an active EmPower Missouri member.
    But I was in DC to Robbie on criminal issues for Network. They use criminal legal, not criminal justice because the system isn’t just. We all might want to make that change.
    I’m taking what I’ve learned to Kentucky and I’ll follow your work with great interest. Marianne

  3. Bahiya H. J. A. Shakur

    Hi Gwen, this is Bahiya Shakur. I met you in Jeff City on Tuesday, March 7th for the Dream.Org “Day of Empathy”. I apologize for not being there after lunch. I read over the Expungment Bill and saw that Representative Washington is the Sponsor of that Bill. Since returning to KC I have been in contact with her staff re that Bill and a couple of others. I expect to be involved in Criminal Justice issues in some way from now on. I look forward to helping in any way I can and hope to be in contact with you again in the near future.

Leave a Reply