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Scott W. Smith

Nonresident Senior Fellow - Metropolitan Policy Program

Scott W. Smith is widely recognized as a distinguished leader in both private business and government. In a career that spans over thirty-five years, Smith has been a professional, consultant, private sector CEO, and government leader. He is the former Mayor of Mesa, Arizona (2008-2014) who currently serves as the Interim CEO of Valley Metro, the Regional Transportation Authority for Metro Phoenix. Known for his ability to collaborate and bring parties together to solve complex problems, Smith is for his innovative leadership in building better government that is more efficient and effective.

Smith graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in accounting and started his career at the international accounting firm Price Waterhouse. He earned both MBA and Juris Doctor degrees from Arizona State University and owned a management consulting and advisory firm. Seeking a new challenge, Smith became the CEO of a real estate investment and development company that was burdened with serious legal and organizational issues. He soon transformed the company into a thriving and well respected regional home building and development company in Arizona. Smith eventually bought the company from its European owners. After building the business, Smith sold it to a NYSE company and pursued another passion: public service.

In 2008, Smith ran for, and won his first elective office: Mayor of Mesa, Arizona, the 38th largest city is America with over 450,000 residents. He was reelected without opposition in 2012 and served until resigning to run for Governor of Arizona in 2014. From the time he first took office, Smith championed innovative efforts that made Mesa government more efficient, responsive and accountable to its citizens. He led the largest reorganization of city government in Mesa’s history. Faced with a crippling recession and large deficit, he worked with the City Council and City Staff to reduce the number of city employees, reduce expenditures, and balance the city’s operating budget. But he just didn’t cut costs.  Following a pledge to “Build a Better Mesa,” he also made government more effective and business friendly. He eliminated red tape and burdensome regulations, and changed the culture in government by telling bureaucrats to “facilitate, don’t regulate.”

Smith also championed iMesa, a visionary citizen outreach project.  Leveraging technology for civic engagement, iMesa was a grassroots improvement effort where residents submit, vote, comment on, and process ideas that helped to transform the community and led to a successful quality of life initiative in the depths of the Great Recession.

During his tenure, Smith also invested strategically in community assets. He rallied residents and leaders and kept the Chicago Cubs from moving their Spring Training to Florida, brought five new colleges to the City, enticed Apple Computers to invest billions in a new facility and led the planning and construction of an extension of Valley Metro’s light rail through Mesa’s downtown district.  His leadership helped foster the most successful job creation and economic development efforts in the city’s history. By the time he left office in 2014, Mesa had won many accolades, including being named the Most Innovative City in Arizona and one of Money Magazine’s Five Best Cities to Live in America.

Smith’s fellow leaders have also recognized his leadership skills. He was elected President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (2013-14), the only mayor from Arizona to ever be so honored. He also served on the President’s Export Council. In Metro Phoenix, he served as Chairman of the Maricopa Association of Governments Regional Council and also headed its Transportation Policy Committee.

In the Fall of 2015, Harvard University selected Smith to serve as a Resident Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Institute of Politics.  Smith taught seminars on City Government and mentored students.

While Smith was away at Harvard, Valley Metro was hit by scandal and controversy, and Regional Leaders looked to a respected leader who could both stabilize the embattled agency and restore public trust in it. They asked Scott Smith to be Valley Metro’s Interim CEO, where he has served since early 2016.

Most recently, Smith the Brookings Institution appointed Smith to be a distinguished nonresident senior fellow in its Metropolitan Policy Program.

Scott Smith is a native of Tucson, Arizona. He and his wife Kim have been married 38 years. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Smith speaks fluent Spanish and is also a licensed pilot who volunteers his time and plane flying needed blood products to hospitals around Arizona.

Scott W. Smith is widely recognized as a distinguished leader in both private business and government. In a career that spans over thirty-five years, Smith has been a professional, consultant, private sector CEO, and government leader. He is the former Mayor of Mesa, Arizona (2008-2014) who currently serves as the Interim CEO of Valley Metro, the Regional Transportation Authority for Metro Phoenix. Known for his ability to collaborate and bring parties together to solve complex problems, Smith is for his innovative leadership in building better government that is more efficient and effective.

Smith graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in accounting and started his career at the international accounting firm Price Waterhouse. He earned both MBA and Juris Doctor degrees from Arizona State University and owned a management consulting and advisory firm. Seeking a new challenge, Smith became the CEO of a real estate investment and development company that was burdened with serious legal and organizational issues. He soon transformed the company into a thriving and well respected regional home building and development company in Arizona. Smith eventually bought the company from its European owners. After building the business, Smith sold it to a NYSE company and pursued another passion: public service.

In 2008, Smith ran for, and won his first elective office: Mayor of Mesa, Arizona, the 38th largest city is America with over 450,000 residents. He was reelected without opposition in 2012 and served until resigning to run for Governor of Arizona in 2014. From the time he first took office, Smith championed innovative efforts that made Mesa government more efficient, responsive and accountable to its citizens. He led the largest reorganization of city government in Mesa’s history. Faced with a crippling recession and large deficit, he worked with the City Council and City Staff to reduce the number of city employees, reduce expenditures, and balance the city’s operating budget. But he just didn’t cut costs.  Following a pledge to “Build a Better Mesa,” he also made government more effective and business friendly. He eliminated red tape and burdensome regulations, and changed the culture in government by telling bureaucrats to “facilitate, don’t regulate.”

Smith also championed iMesa, a visionary citizen outreach project.  Leveraging technology for civic engagement, iMesa was a grassroots improvement effort where residents submit, vote, comment on, and process ideas that helped to transform the community and led to a successful quality of life initiative in the depths of the Great Recession.

During his tenure, Smith also invested strategically in community assets. He rallied residents and leaders and kept the Chicago Cubs from moving their Spring Training to Florida, brought five new colleges to the City, enticed Apple Computers to invest billions in a new facility and led the planning and construction of an extension of Valley Metro’s light rail through Mesa’s downtown district.  His leadership helped foster the most successful job creation and economic development efforts in the city’s history. By the time he left office in 2014, Mesa had won many accolades, including being named the Most Innovative City in Arizona and one of Money Magazine’s Five Best Cities to Live in America.

Smith’s fellow leaders have also recognized his leadership skills. He was elected President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (2013-14), the only mayor from Arizona to ever be so honored. He also served on the President’s Export Council. In Metro Phoenix, he served as Chairman of the Maricopa Association of Governments Regional Council and also headed its Transportation Policy Committee.

In the Fall of 2015, Harvard University selected Smith to serve as a Resident Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Institute of Politics.  Smith taught seminars on City Government and mentored students.

While Smith was away at Harvard, Valley Metro was hit by scandal and controversy, and Regional Leaders looked to a respected leader who could both stabilize the embattled agency and restore public trust in it. They asked Scott Smith to be Valley Metro’s Interim CEO, where he has served since early 2016.

Most recently, Smith the Brookings Institution appointed Smith to be a distinguished nonresident senior fellow in its Metropolitan Policy Program.

Scott Smith is a native of Tucson, Arizona. He and his wife Kim have been married 38 years. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Smith speaks fluent Spanish and is also a licensed pilot who volunteers his time and plane flying needed blood products to hospitals around Arizona.

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