By Barbara Kessler, TJJD Communications
TJJD bid farewell and wished a happy retirement to longtime board member James "Jimmy" Smith at the last TJJD Board meeting, held in February.
Smith was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to serve as one of the inaugural board members of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, which was created by Senate Bill 653. He initially served as a county commissioner representative on the board from Midland County. After serving one term, Smith was re-appointed in 2015 by Gov. Greg Abbott to continue in the county commissioner position on the TJJD Board.
After Smith retired from the Midland County Commissioner’s Court in Jan. 2017, Abbott reappointed him to continue as a TJJD board member in a term that expired on Feb. 1, 2023.
Smith became a highly valued member of the board, interested in all aspects of juvenile justice. He served on the Programs and Executive committees, and lent his special expertise in real estate, his vocation, to his service on the Trust Committee, which he chaired.
The TJJD Trust Committee oversaw management of two properties in Central Texas that had been bestowed to the agency many years ago to benefit disadvantaged or orphaned Texas youth. Smith helped ensure that these properties were well maintained and generated funds that could help TJJD and other qualified youth as they transitioned into young adulthood.
These trust monies helped youth with scholarships and stipends that covered housing, textbooks, supplies, tuition, childcare and living expenses as they pursued their education or vocational training. Over the last five years, the trust money has served 95 students with total disbursements of $755,854.
"As chair of the Trust Committee, Mr. Smith spent hundreds of hours outside of Board meetings working to increase the funds available for youth through the trusts,” said TJJD General Counsel Christian von Wupperfeld, who worked closely with the Trust Committee. “His vision and deep experience in real estate has been incredibly valuable to the oversight of the trusts and contributed greatly to the education of trust beneficiaries.”
“Serving on Trust meant a lot to me," Smith said. "It was an opportunity to manage the assets and provide educational funds for our youth, and hopefully keep the recidivism rate down and to see the successes of the students.”
Smith, who served during the leadership of several TJJD executive directors during his tenure, leaves the board with a lot of optimism about the current leadership and direction of the agency, he said. “I’m excited about the current staff and leadership at TJJD, and the progress being made.”
“It has been an honor serving on the Texas Juvenile Justice Department Board and the State of Texas,” he said. “It’s been a great experience and the many people I got to meet . . . We had great board members throughout.”
In addition to his work at TJJD, Smith’s juvenile justice service includes time as a board member of Midland Teen Court, Casa of West Texas, and work as a court-appointed special advocate. He also was a reserve peace officer for 30 years, working with the Midland Police Dept, Midland County Sheriff’s Dept. and Midland County District Attorney’s Office. He retired his license as a Master Peace Officer in April of 2022.
Smith served and was honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corps.
Photos: Upper right, James Smith; lower left, Board Chair Scott Matthew, Outgoing Board Member James Smith, TJJD Executive Director Shandra Carter