Katie Smythe, Founding CEO and Artistic Director, New Ballet Ensemble & School; Memphis, TN
After a 17-year career as a professional dancer and arts educator, Smythe saw a need for a community dance program offering a high standard of ballet training for children from every corner of the city, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, or ability to pay. She founded NBE based on that mission in 2002. A 2006 capital campaign to transform an unused Midtown warehouse into a 14,500 square foot facility that includes three state-of-the-art dance studios, a Pilates studio, costume shop, administrative offices, and in 2018 an Educational Resource Center for students opened.
Under Smythe’s leadership, NBE has continued to broaden its mission, expanding community engagement and reaching more children. New Ballet Teaching Artists, toured Memphis City Schools, performing and looking for talented young people, while also working with human service organizations to recruit young dancers. In 2009, NBE entered a partnership with the community of Orange Mound, creating an after-school dance program in Dunbar Elementary School. The residency has brought a number of talented young dancers into the NBE program, and it continues today.
Ms. Smythe was first elected to the National Guild Board in 2014 and served two three-year terms before rotating off the board for a year. She is seeking reelection to her third three-year term.