On Friday, March 11, 2011, the Board of Trustees for Thornwell Home for Children announced the call of Rev. Elliot M. Smith as the 9th president of Thornwell. Smith was one of five top contenders selected for interview from a list of 200 qualified candidates considered by the Presidential Search Committee.

“We chose Elliot for many reasons,” said Search Committee and Thornwell Board Chairman Rev. Lawrence Peebles. “He is an experienced and respected leader, fundraiser, pastor, and businessman.”

Smith earned a B.S. degree in Communication Disorders from Pennsylvania State University in 1981. In that same year, he bought the family dry-cleaning business and nearly doubled its worth in less than five years. In 1985, Smith heard the call to ministry, sold the business, and enrolled in Louisville Presbyterian Seminary and Bellarmine University. He was the first student in Louisville Seminary history to earn both a M. Div. degree and a MBA degree simultaneously. Following graduation, Smith was called as an associate pastor at Wekiva Presbyterian Church, where he served from 1992 to 1996.

He was recruited as Thornwell Home for Children’s first development officer for Florida and Georgia in 1996 and while in that position, Smith achieved a 50% increase in annual giving among his constituents, and was the first to close a six-figure gift annuity for Thornwell.

As the Vice President for Development for Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services, Austin, TX, from 1998 to 2010, Smith lead an eleven-member development team, increased annual giving from $500,000 to over $3 million and doubled planned gift expectancies.

In a staff meeting held to announce Smith’s appointment, Thornwell Interim President, Rev. Dr. Charles D. Elliott, welcomed Rev. Smith saying, “I have full confidence in Elliot’s abilities. His heart for children’s ministry is evident and his pastoral experience as a Presbyterian minister will be a great asset, both as your president and as Thornwell’s chief development officer.”

Rev. Smith will assume his duties as president on June 1, 2011. In his first address to Thornwell staff members, Smith said, “I am honored and humbled by this opportunity to walk along side you all as colleagues and ministers together. God is in charge of this ministry; and just as Dr. Jacobs did all those years ago, we will address every issue in prayer and make decisions together that will move this ministry forward as God intends.”

Rev. Smith and his wife, Jill, will live on Thornwell’s campus in the President’s home.

Founded as a Presbyterian ministry in 1875, Thornwell Home for Children is a joyful Christian community, offering hope and wholeness to children and families. Its goals are to provide loving homes for abused, abandoned and neglected children, to offer an opportunity for healing by providing proper healthcare and mental health counseling for every Thornwell child, and to offer Thornwell’s children hope for a successful future by providing educational support and teaching self-advocacy.

To learn more about Thornwell’s programs and services, visit