Lara Smith was born in St. Louis, Missouri and was in her first show when she was seven. By the time she graduated from high school, she had performed in nearly thirty shows. However, during that time she also discovered that she much preferred to be behind the scenes. She attended Webster University’s Theatre Conservatory and graduated on the Dean’s List and Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Stage Management. While studying, she created an internship at the Alliance Theatre in administration and production as well as at the Municipal Opera of St. Louis in administration.
In May 2007, Lara moved to Atlanta for the role of Development Director of Dad’s Garage. While there, she served as panelist and panel chair for the Fulton County Arts Council Small and Emerging Arts organizations panel; a panelist for the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs Theatre panel; panelist for the Georgia Council for the Arts Theatre panel; and as founding Treasurer for the Inman Park Business Association board. She was a member of the 2008 Arts Leaders of Metro Atlanta class.
Lara became the Managing Director of Actor’s Express in August 2010. While there, she helped lead the organization through a financial crisis and ultimately retired 26% of the debt in two years. In partnership with a consultant, she led the organization through a five year strategic planning process. While there she completed a certificate program in Nonprofit Governance Essentials from the Georgia Center for Nonprofits.
From there, Lara returned to Dad’s Garage in August 2012 to become Managing Director. She helped lead the organization through losing their home of 18 years, including securing temporary space and purchasing a long-term home through a nontraditional capital campaign. The new home, located in the Old Fourth Ward, opened to the general public in December 2015. Lara is a graduate of the LEAD Atlanta Class of 2014 and received a scholarship from the Harvard Business School Club of Atlanta to attend an executive education course, Strategic Perspective in Nonprofit Management, at the Harvard Business School in July 2014. She is a board member for The Farmer Fund, which provides disaster relief to help keep farmers farming.
Lara was named one of the 40 under 40 in the Atlanta Business Chronicle in 2015.