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Young Lawyer Rising Podcast

First Native American Woman President of the ABA: Mary Smith's Incredible Career

Mary L Smith and Montana Funk

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About This Episode

Guest Mary Smith is an accomplished attorney and the first Native American woman to become president of the American Bar Association. In addition to a distinguished career in legal leadership for billion-dollar organizations, including CEO of the national organization Indian Health Services, she is also active in many civic organizations, including the Caroline and Ora Smith Foundation, dedicated to helping young Native American women forge careers in STEM fields. 

Smith’s career took a long and winding path, including a stop serving in the White House and the Department of Justice, along with billion-dollar publicly traded companies. Smith said the key has been to remain curious and open to new opportunities throughout her career. 

Being willing to take risks and face various challenges has driven her career to amazing heights. Smith explains how she never limited herself to any presupposed direction. Sometimes, you think you’ve selected a singular path, but if you remain open to new opportunities, that path can lead you to places you’ve never imagined and take you higher than you thought possible. 

As Smith says in this inspiring episode: “Be true to yourself. Believe in yourself. And seek help, mentors, and others who can help along the way.” 


Special thanks to our sponsors ALPS Insurance and ABA Young Lawyers Division.

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