Johnny A. Smith, Jr.
Board of Directors
Senior Director of Public Relations, Ascension, Missouri
Johnny A. Smith Jr. serves as the senior director of public relations for St. Louis-based Ascension, the largest non-profit health system in the United States. Ascension has more than 160,000 employees and 35,000 affiliated providers serving in 141 hospitals in 24 states and the District of Columbia. In his role, Smith has thought leadership responsibility for reputation management, media relations and executive positioning for the $30 billion organization and its for-profit subsidiaries. He spearheads change management communications inclusive of mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and transformational initiatives; and maintains mutually-beneficial relationships with top-tier media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, CNN, Washington Post, Reuters, Bloomberg and POLITICO.
Most recently, Smith was the system director of corporate communications for St. Vincent, a 22-hospital system with revenues of more than $3 billion, and one of the largest employers in Indiana. In this capacity, he led a team of public relations, internal communications and social media professionals. As the health system’s top spokesperson, he was responsible for developing and executing strategic communications plans for hospitals and service lines; securing daily positive news stories through Indiana-based media outlets; managing issues and crisis situations; deploying social media as a consumer engagement strategy; and leading the corporate communications team to earn local and national recognition for strategic public relations projects.
Prior to joining St. Vincent, Smith served at Indiana University Health, the largest health system in the state with gross revenues of $7 billion. At Indiana University Health, he had public and media relations responsibilities for Methodist Hospital and Riley Hospital for Children.
Smith earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations from Ball State University. Currently, he is pursuing a Master of Arts in Communication from Johns Hopkins University. Smith serves on the American Lung Association National Board, and is a board member with UNCF St. Louis and the Daughters of Charity Foundation of St. Louis. He is a past board member for the Madame Walker Theatre Center, Saving Orphans through Healthcare and Outreach, and the Peace Learning Center.