Nana G. H. Smith

Nana graduated from Exeter, Yale, and NYU Law School and practiced law for a dozen years on Wall Street and then in Nebraska, where her husband was the President of the University of Nebraska system. She retired in 1998 and raised three children. Over the past 30 years, she has served on the boards of numerous charitable organizations, primarily in the arts, education and child welfare. In Nebraska, she served on the Nebraska Arts and Humanities Councils as well as the fundraising boards of two university art museums, an art film theatre and the studio art department of the university. An artist herself, Nana thoroughly enjoyed being a docent at the Whitney Museum of Art and a copyist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art while her husband was the Chancellor of the City University of New York. During this time, she also championed a groundbreaking project for New Yorkers for Children, the private nonprofit partner of the NYC Administration of Children’s Services, which established year-round housing and academic and emotional supports for students at CUNY who came from the foster care system. In Austin, she loves being a docent at the Blanton Museum. She also sits on the homeowners’ association on a small island in North Carolina where they own a second home (which gives her an excuse to see the ocean once a month!). She reads only fiction. Growing up, she was most influenced by mid-century Southern and South American writers like Marquez, Borges, Faulkner, Penn Warren, and O’Connor, as well as Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio. She has read everything Willa Cather wrote at least twice. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road was her bible for a few years. Her favorite contemporary authors include Colm Toibin and Colum McCann.