August 15, 2017

Chicago-area attorney Mary Smith becomes ABA secretary

NEW YORK, Aug. 15, 2017 — Mary Smith of Lansing, Ill., former acting director of Indian Health Service, today became the secretary of the American Bar Association at the organization’s Annual Meeting in New York.

As secretary, Smith will take office for a three-year term as one of five officers on the ABA’s Board of Governors.

An enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation, Smith is a former acting director of Indian Health Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which provides medical and public health services to federally recognized Native American tribes and Alaska native people through 26 hospitals and a budget of more than $6 billion. She also served as special counsel and estate trust officer at the Office of Special Deputy Receiver in Chicago, where she helped to manage more than 20 insurance companies with approximately $1.5 billion in assets. Previously, she was general counsel at the Illinois Department of Insurance, served as counselor in the civil division at the U.S. Department of Justice and was partner in the Chicago office of Schoeman, Updike & Kaufman.


Notably, Smith worked for the White House as associate director of policy planning from 1997-2000, associate counsel to the president in 2000 and a member of the U.S. Department of Justice Agency Review team for the Obama-Biden transition team in 2008.

Smith has developed a substantial record of service to the ABA. She is a member of the association’s policy-making House of Delegates, serving the body from 2007-12 and again since 2013 as a delegate-at-large. Smith was also a member of the Board of Governors in 2009-12 and has been actively involved with the ABA’s Section of Litigation, Commission on Women in the Profession and Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice.

Outside the ABA, Smith is the immediate past president of the National Native Bar Association and founder of the National Native American Bar Foundation. And, she was a member of executive council for National Conference of Bar Presidents.

Smith was the recipient of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management Director’s Citation for Exemplary Public Service in 2001 and the Spirit of Excellence Award from the American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession in 2012.

Smith is a graduate of University of Chicago Law School.


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