IEM Leadership

Who We Are

Debra S. Smith, M.S.M., PhD

Director of CDBG-DR Subject Matter Expertise

Dr. Debra Smith, IEM’s Director of CDBG-DR SME, is responsible for the management of Disaster Recovery, COVID-19 relief, and HUD programs. Currently, Debra is the Program Manager for the Virginia Mortgage Relief Program, a $258 million program, and provides oversight for the $1.9 billion New Jersey Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation (RREM/LMI) Program. Debra also manages IEM’s HUD Community Compass Technical Assistance Program, supervising the project management team and the six associated HUD awards. She provides and directs technical assistance in areas such as Disaster Recovery and other CDBG programs, Public Housing operations, financial management and Housing Choice Voucher administration, and HUD product development.

Dr. Smith is a professional with over 27 years of experience in program management, employee leadership, and strategic planning within public and private sector settings. Debra has managed multi-million dollar federally funded programs for state government agencies in Virginia, New Jersey, Mississippi, and Minnesota, administered programs for the state of New York and non-profit organizations, and provided proposal review consultations to several federal agencies. 

Previously, Dr. Smith managed HIV/AIDS policy and legislation for the state of Minnesota. She authored the $3.2M federal grant application for the Ryan White Title II/ADAP HIV healthcare program and oversaw related compliance and reporting activities. She also created the community initiative arm of the Minnesota Adult AIDS Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Minnesota where she developed and implemented HIV research recruitment, education, and outreach projects. Debra has been an advocate for those affected by HIV as well as individuals with developmental disabilities, and she has experience developing and managing two Individual Education Plan training programs for Arc Greater Twin Cities.

Debra has provided organizational, program and writing consultation to several private organizations. She has served on a plethora of proposal review committees for federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Office of Minority Health, and the Health Resources and Services Administration. Dr. Smith has also been a member and/or leader of multiple community planning, directorship, and advisory boards, including the American Public Health Association, the Minneapolis Public Health Advisory Board, the African American AIDS Task Force and the Hennepin County Community Health Services Advisory Committee.  

Dr. Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Tougaloo College (MS) and a master’s degree in management from Belhaven College (MS). She received her Doctorate in Public Health from Walden University (MN) with an emphasis in Community Health Promotion and Education in 2018.

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