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“Family is a line of direction; the further you go, your family will grow.”

LaVerne Smith

Illinois Youth Advisory Board Program Coordinator & Fulfillment Specialist

Independent. Altruistic.  Artist Extraordinaire. These are the words that best describe Laverne Smith.  LaVerne has spent much of her personal and professional life merging together the two things she loves most:  creating art and serving at-risk youth.  A staunch advocate for youth empowerment, LaVerne’s path began in high school when she was hand-selected by then Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel to serve as Youth Ambassador for the State of Illinois’ Youth Violence Prevention Program, under the Dept of Justice.  Here, Laverne honed her public speaking and advocacy skills.  The combination of LaVerne’s skills as a youth advocate as well as a glass blower and sculptor, opened the door for an internship with The Little Black Pearl Art Center. This experience was her first opportunity to merge both passions, art and activism and solidify the trajectory of her life work.  

Throughout her work career, LaVerne has been the benefactor of numerus mentor/mentee relationships; these relationships have helped to ground her in the work and help shape the person she’s become.  As a result, LaVerne has adopted a “pay-it-forward” spirit which has enabled her to leverage solid, trusting relationships with the youth and youth workers; her reach-back has made the difference in her ability to develop youth as leaders in their school and community. 

 Currently, LaVerne serves as the Illinois Youth Advisory Board Coordinator for Be Strong Families.  LaVerne joined Be Strong Families in 2018.  She is a proud native of Chicago’s south side.  She has 4 siblings, one of which she helped to raise, her younger brother- a former youth-in-care.  LaVerne enjoys listening to music and songwriting.  She hopes to enroll  in college this fall and complete her studies in Art and Education.