Mary Smith

Mary Smith

Mary Smith followed a daring and creative career path to become the first Native American woman president of the Association Bar Association in its nearly 150-year history.

She is also an independent board member and former CEO of a $6 billion national healthcare organization, the Indian Health Service. She currently serves on the board of PTC Therapeutics, Inc., a global biopharmaceutical company and on the board of HAI Group, a member-owned insurance company for the affordable housing industry. She is also vice chair of the VENG Group, a national consulting firm.

Smith has served at the highest levels of government, both at the federal and state level. She served on the senior team of the Civil Division at the United States Department of Justice and was general counsel at the Illinois Department of Insurance. Earlier in her career, and she served in the White House as associate counsel to the president and associate director of policy planning.

In her private sector experience, Smith served in a senior role at Tyco International, Inc., a $40 billion public company, where she managed a $60 million budget. She also served as special counsel and estate trust officer at the Office of Special Deputy Receiver; a partner in the Chicago office of Schoeman, Updike & Kaufman, a women-owned firm; and an attorney at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in Washington, D.C., where she specialized in governmental investigations and securities class actions.

Smith is a past ABA secretary. She was the first Native American to serve as one of 13 commissioners on the Commission on Women in the Profession. She has held leadership positions in both the ABA Section of Litigation and the ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice. She also served as an ABA representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

In her civic activities, Smith is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Economic Club of Chicago, the International Women’s Forum, and the National Association of Corporate Directors.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Chicago and her JD from the University of Chicago School of law. 

Full bio available online. 

Follow & Connect
Guest Appearances
June 20, 2024

First Native American Woman President of the ABA: Mary Smith’s Incredible Career

Guest Mary Smith explores her courageous career path from law school to becoming the first Native American woman president of the American Bar Association.