Staff Spotlight: Natalie Smart

Meet Natalie Smart

Natalie Smart has worked for the Commission since February 2008, where she first began working part-time in the Northern Area inclusion office. Later in the year, she was promoted to full-time Therapeutic Recreation Specialist I with the Special Programs Division. Then in July 2011, she accepted the Assistant Director position at Prince George's Plaza Community Center.

She has been at her current position, Countywide Therapeutic Recreation III, with the Special Programs Division since August 2014. Within this position, she is responsible for coordinating and overseeing community-based Therapeutic Recreation programs for adults and children with disabilities, such as Leisure and Lifeskills, Leisure Skills Development, Teens' Day Out, Spring Break Camp, and six Social Clubs. In addition, she also plans and implements an annual Mini Trip, where forty adults with disabilities travel around the country.
A group of eleven people standing and sitting together holding up tee shirts with a logo.


Natalie earned an undergraduate degree in Social Welfare from University of California, Berkley and a Master's degree in Organizational Development from Trinity Washington University. She first submitted her IPI proposal, while working as an Assistant Director at Prince George's Plaza Community Center. Let's learn more about her ideas and her IPI program from her perspective.

IPI Program Description (Target Market, Program Disciplines & Attendance)

The '10 Things Every Young Man Should Know' was a 12-week program designed for boys ages 14-17; it was created to provide essential life skills to under-served and resource-lacking populations. As part of the Transforming Neighborhood Initiative, the purpose of the program was to strategically teach life skills to young men, in order to improve their chances of success in the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

My program partnered with several department areas including Maintenance, Park Police, Public Affairs and Community Engagement, Sports, Health and Wellness, and Central Area to develop and make this program a success.

Program Topics

The topics covered were:
  • Car Maintenance
  • Financial Management
  • Healthy Living
  • Interaction with Law Enforcement
  • Leadership Training
  • Maintaining Healthy Relationships
  • Maintaining a Positive Identity
  • Maintaining Positive Relationships
  • Making a Difference
  • Workforce Preparation

Idea Inspiration

The inspiration for my program was from my time working as Assistant Director at Prince George's Plaza Community Center. A core focus of my job was supervising the Xtreme Teens program. It was during my 3 years at the Center that I noticed a few teens in the program were arrested for various crimes, and were tried as adults for them, which changed the course of their lives.

This deeply hurt me, that is why I wanted to provide a mentoring program for young men. While I did not want it to be simply conversational, I sought to create a program with lasting results-something that would resonate with them from adolescence to adulthood.

Program Outcomes

Both the participants and their parents very much enjoyed the program. Since the program's conclusion, three of the teens who participated have since enrolled in the Teen Cotillion program. In the Cotillion program, they are provided additional resources and programming needs, which will continue to foster growth. Based on a scale from 1-10 (in which 1 is poor and 10 is very good), the program received an overall effect of 9.1.