Theodore “Ted” Smith, beloved long-time board member of the Alaska Conservation Foundation (ACF), died in a hiking accident in the mountains near his home in Montana on September 1, 2012. Ted served on ACF’s board from 1997 to 2009. He will be remembered for a life well-led. A global citizen, it was his calling to do what he could to protect the planet, and inspire others to do the same along his journey.
His notable career accomplishments included serving as the founding Executive Director of the Consultative Group on Biological Diversity and long-time Executive Director of the Kendall Foundation. In both of these capacities, he created visionary programs that helped promote social change and protect North America’s wild lands, including the Yellowstone to Yukon initiative and an effort that connected MBA students to National Park Service internships.
Ted was a tireless advocate for the protection of Alaska’s natural environment and the cultures and ways of life it sustains. Strategic, caring, open-minded, not afraid to take on new challenges, he was driven to see ACF succeed. He will also be remembered not only for his efforts to build ACF, but the Alaska conservation movement through his mentoring of so many of Alaska’s conservation leaders.
But of the myriad contributions Ted made to Alaska, the one for which he may be best remembered is his effort to create the ACF Conservation Internship Program. This is more than a program; it was a central part of Ted’s mission to grow the conservation movement one person at a time. It was his hope that the young leaders who emerged from the program would choose a career path in conservation, and make a long-term commitment to preserving and protecting the pristine environment and diverse cultures of Alaska.
Ted was a hero to many across the country working in the fields of conservation and philanthropy. Thoughtful and analytical, he led by example and with generosity, kindness, humor, and class. He embodied the belief that one person can make a difference, and he empowered people to “aim high” and reach their full potential.
Ted left a lasting legacy to the world in the places he helped protect and the people he inspired during his life. Through the difference he made during his life, he will continue to inspire people to care and act about the places they love.
Ted wrote his reflections on the lessons he learned in his many years as a conservationist and philanthropist in a document called A Tasting Menu. For more information about this dissertation, please contact Alaska Conservation Foundation at 907-276-1917.