Matthea Little Smith
Matthea Little Smith was educated at the University of Minnesota, majoring in mathematics (which ended up having nothing to do with her life's work). She has worked in the Battered Women's Movement for 15 years as a shelter advocate, administrative assistant, legislative educator (lobbyist) and a board member. Next, she was a case manager for women in transition that were homeless, who had been abused, or had mental health issues.
Little Smith ran a program for those displaced to Minneapolis/St. Paul by Hurricane Katrina. 90% of the clients were African American. She developed a program that combined disaster, emergency, and social case management, something that had not been done before. The program was successful in seeking and providing resources to almost 95% of those that came through our doors.
Ms. Little Smith was a member of the Minneapolis NAACP. She was also the campaign manager for the first African American woman, Neva Walker, in the Minnesota House of Representatives. She has been a National Delegate three times and very active on local, state and national levels of her political party.
In 2011, Little Smith retired from NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) Minnesota as the Director of African American Outreach. Her primary responsibility was to strive to end the stigma associated with mental illness and provide education and assist in program development for the African American Community in Minneapolis/St. Paul. To do so, Little Smith provided lectures to African American churches, community organizations and the Correctional Facility at Red Wing (a juvenile facility). She also lead 12-hour education sessions (weekend classes) to African American parents of children with a mental health issue, which provided information that parents could utilize to work with their children's challenging behaviors. She has coordinated African American focus groups on mental illness and assisted in development an African American version of a manual on Children’s Challenging Behaviors for parents.
Little Smith is a professional ICA’s (Institute of Cultural Affairs) Technology of Participation (ToP) Facilitator - an integrated set of facilitation methods, tools and approaches that foster authentic participation and meaningful collaboration. She has facilitated many community focus group meetings in the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota African American community.
Matthea has been trained by the University of Iowa to be a Peer Support Specialist and Family Peer Support Specialist. She also serves in many roles for NAMI Iowa, a volunteer to facilitator support groups for families who have loved ones with mental health issues as well as facilitating support groups for people living with a mental illness. She contracts as a NAMI Iowa State and NAMI National trainer.
As a board member of the Oakridge Neighborhood, Matthea served on the Housing and Service Committee and the Community Outreach and Engagement Committee, which assists in addressing issues of concern for families and empowering families to take a more active role in the Oakridge Neighborhood.
Matthea developed the Mental Health Ministry for Corinthian Baptist Church for 1 year under Pastor Rev. Dr. Michael Burton and has revived the Mental Health Ministry under Rev. Jonathan Whitfield, which now has expanded to include two virtual mental health support groups.