New CAHNRS development director brings passion for connecting people

Jim Smith says his superpower is the ability to help people discover their own stories: He helps them identify what they are passionate about and connects them with educational programs that make a difference.

Formal head shot of Jim Smith
Jim Smith

He’s bringing that knack to his new position as senior director of development in Washington State University’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS). His first day on the WSU Pullman campus is March 25, 2024.

“If my team and I can identify great work being done on campus or at a research center and connect it with people who want to make a difference and improve lives, that’s what it’s all about,” Smith said.

Hailing mostly from Alaska, Smith has lived in more than two dozen states, as well as Thailand and Ecuador. He joins WSU from the University of Central Arkansas, where he was a senior director of development in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

“CAHNRS is very excited to welcome Jim as the leader of our dedicated Office of Development team,” said Wendy Powers, the Cashup Davis Family Endowed Dean of CAHNRS. “I know Jim and the team will do the vital work necessary to support our college’s efforts to foster discovery and innovation across many disciplines, ultimately improving our state’s productiveness, sustainability, health, and well-being.”

Smith spent part of his childhood in Spokane, Wash., so he is familiar with the Pacific Northwest. Once on the job, he said he plans to spend the first six months or so identifying and connecting with key people in CAHNRS and the college’s large group of alumni and friends.

“I want to meet people and learn all I can about CAHNRS so we can help make connections,” Smith said. “We’re heading into a new phase for the college, and I want to ensure everyone has the necessary tools to explain our mission.”

In addition to Central Arkansas, Smith has also worked in development at West Virginia University and the University of Alaska, plus other nonprofit organizations. “Helping support science and students at universities is an incredibly rewarding career,” Smith said. “I’m excited to return to Washington and help CAHNRS continue the vital research and teaching needed to make this state more resilient now and in the future.”