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For Community-Driven Global Development

Julia Smith Joins FSD as Development Lead

With a longtime passion for international development, love of foreign cultures and languages, and a strong knowledge of the Bay Area philanthropic community, Julia Smith stands poised to make great things happen for FSD in her new position of Development Lead. In this role, Julia will be focused on donor and partnership cultivation, along with the development of the giving circle's platform,

A graduate of Chapman University, where she majored in political science and minored in Spanish and French, Julia’s interest in international development began at a young age. “I come from an incredibly fortunate background that provided me with eye-opening cultural opportunities,” she tells us. “I was placed in a Spanish dual language immersion program in kindergarten, and throughout life, my family hosted over 20 exchange students in our home. In these experiences, I learned early on that I was a global citizen; and have always had an appreciation for travel, learning about cultures, and understanding different perspectives of life.”

Upon graduating from high school, she continues, “I decided to be an exchange student in a Gap Year Program with AFS International. This decision took me to Paraguay, where I lived with a host family and taught English to first through sixth graders. During that year, my life changed.  Ever since, I’ve pursued opportunities to volunteer and work with several organizations in the international development field.”

Julia notes that joining FSD is an especially exciting opportunity, as she shares similar perspectives on international development work. “I firmly believe that by putting communities in control, sustainable solutions are bound to follow. I experienced this firsthand during my time in Uganda where I was introduced not just to the human side, but to the broad topics that the local community deal with daily; involving the government, health, education, and environment. I realized how interconnected these issues are and how sustainable development requires a well-rounded approach with a variety of skill sets--something I know FSD replicates in its ABCD, ground-up model.”

To further her professional capacity, Julia completed a certificate program at Mama Hope, a San Francisco-based organization aimed at creating prosperity for all. This organization’s Global Advocate program is a 9-month professional training for social entrepreneurs and is focused on personal growth, human connection, and global impact. There, Julia says, “I learned how to fund and launch sustainable partnerships with communities around the globe. I was matched with a Community Based Organization in Biondo, Uganda--a rural village where I lived for 4 months while supporting community-directed development initiatives.”

As part of her training, Julia created a social media campaign which included Facebook posts, blog posts, and Mailchimp updates. As well, she says, “I hosted seven events in the Bay Area and Southern California, including a bake sale, clothing swap, tamale sale, yoga class and silent auction. Overall, I fundraised about half of the $15K from networking and my social media campaign and the other half from the fundraising events I hosted.”

We asked Julia about her professional philosophy.  “I firmly believe in open communication, listening and having honest interactions—and that we can all benefit from being connected. Specifically, I love helping people connect with causes that excite them. It is wonderful to see the gleam of excitement in the eyes of people who are learning amazing new things about themselves through the experience of giving. Fundraising is much more than an act of asking for money; it is a personal invitation to join us in making a difference in the world.”

Julia would love to hear from anyone who’d like to be part of our soon-to-be-announced fall event in San Francisco, or who is interested in forming a Giving Circle.  Please write to her at