Shawna Smith

OC Visionaries 2022

Executive Director
Hope Builders

Hope Builders is a workforce development agency that moves young adults from poverty to prosperity. Hope Builders believes career opportunities change lives; it recruits 18 to 28-year-old young adults from Orange County’s most vulnerable communities and connects them to employment offering career advancement and a living wage. Hope Builders addresses two main issues that significantly impact Orange County: 1) employers lack a skilled, reliable pipeline for middle-skilled jobs; and 2) young adults in low-income neighborhoods often lack access to upwardly mobile employment. Since 1998, Shawna Smith has worked with Hope Builders to solve these challenges. Throughout her 24-year tenure, she has led the development of numerous initiatives, including the launch of the construction training program, which was integral to the development of the organization’s existing model of workforce training. In 2008, Shawna took over the executive leadership reins, successfully managing the transition of the organization’s founding director.