Barbara Sexton Smith
Barbara Sexton Smith

Throughout the year, the Muhammad Ali Center‘s “Daughters of Greatness” breakfast series invites prominent women engaged in social philanthropy, activism and pursuits of justice to speak about their experiences. Barbara Sexton Smith is a prime example of a woman who is committed to all three of those respected activities — and many more, even after retirement (which she terms as “re-wirement”) as president of the Fund for the Arts. She’ll be honored at the next “Daughters of Greatness” event on Friday, Aug. 7.

Sexton Smith helped raise more than $220 million while working with the Fund for the Arts, Metro United Way, Olmsted Parks Conservancy, and the West Louisville Boys and Girls Choirs, among others.

She is currently the chief liaison for the Compassionate Schools Project, the largest and most comprehensive study ever undertaken of a health and wellness curriculum teaching elementary-aged students to cultivate focus, resilience and well-being for academic success. The study will reach 20,000 JCPS students in 50 schools throughout the next six years.

Sexton Smith has worked alongside Louisville mayors from Dave Armstrong to Greg Fischer to champion for her causes — which run the gamut from making sure the arts stay in schools to serving on the Metro Louisville Air Pollution Control District board of directors. In fact, if you name a board for any organization, Sexton Smith is probably on it. She serves on the boards of the Kentucky School of Art, SouthArts, Hermitage Farm, Simmons College of Kentucky, and handfuls of others.

She’s a charming, captivating and smart public speaker, so Friday’s “Daughters of Greatness” presentation should be a treat. Tickets are $25 ($20 for Ali Center members) and can be reserved by clicking here or calling 992-5341. The event runs from 8:30-10 a.m. and includes breakfast.

In between board meetings and championing for children, we asked Barbara Sexton Smith some very important questions …

What’s the most surprising thing on your Bucket List?

Boyfriend Dean Martin, not to be confused with husband Big Daddy
Boyfriend Dean Martin, not to be confused with husband Big Daddy

Nothing is on the list because I live large every day with Big Daddy (my husband, Lacey T. Smith Sr.)!

What poster was on your wall in junior high?

Dean Martin — I still call him my boyfriend. I absolutely love to hear him sing “I Want Some Red Roses for a Blue Lady.”

If you were mayor, to whom would you give the key to the city?

To all the children living in west Louisville so they can open the hearts of everyone east of Ninth Street.

What are your preferred pizza toppings?

Pepperoni and extra cheese — always.

If you could be any age for a week, what would it be?

Lily Tomlin
Lily Tomlin

Well that’s easy — 100! That means I made it that far!

What famous person do people say you resemble the most?

Lily Tomlin — I hear it all the time!

Who would you most like to be stuck with in an elevator?

Big Daddy!

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Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."