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 leads a team of more than 20 public relations and communications professionals, and is responsible for national, regional and local thought leadership, reputation management, public affairs and health system 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. Smith frequently presents at national communications and public relations conferences, and was recently honored as one of Catholic Health Association’s prestigious "Tomorrow’s Leaders."
Previously, 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.
He serves on the American Lung Association National Board, the UNCF St. Louis Board, the Daughters of Charity Foundation of St. Louis Board, and is on the Public Relations Society of America's (PRSA) National Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Smith also supports the St. Louis Regional Business Council through leadership committee involvement with the Young Professionals Network and Social Venture Partners. He is a past board member for the Madame Walker Theatre Center, Saving Orphans through Healthcare and Outreach, and the Peace Learning Center.