Engage Mountain Maryland board member Kate Smith will be leaving Garrett County by the end of August but her impressive legacy will forever remain. Kate joined the EMM board in 2017 and she became a powerful voice for area citizens. Her compassion and welcoming nature served her friends and community well.
Kate Smith pictured, right front row, and her grandson Kai pose for one last photo with EMM friends and family. A touching sendoff picnic reflected upon Kate's immeasurable contributions to Garrett County.
When Kate joined the EMM board the fracking battle had just been won. Natural gas extraction using a controversial method gravely concerned the founding board and was a central focus of the organization since 2015. Following years of public meetings and sharing technical information, the board welcomed Kate as a new voice for a new era. EMM was initially formed to engage and activate citizens on important issues, something Kate was passionate about.
Kate and her fellow board members set to work informing the public about the Oakland Bypass, voter registration, election participation, ways to improve the local economy, expanding broadband service, healthcare, and seeking new opportunities in agriculture. As if she wasn't busy enough, Kate then launched an election campaign and successfully won a seat on Oakland's town council.
Kate is sworn in to serve on Oakland's Town Council.
After serving out her full term, Kate decided not to seek reelection. She had numerous other interests occupying much of her time including setting up a local branch of the NAACP. Kicking off with over 100 members, Garrett County was the last Maryland county to establish a branch that ensures the political, educational, social, and economic equality of all citizens. This was extremely important to Kate since she had been the object of racism after locating to the county. With the new branch established, Kate is pleased that equality of rights and elimination of racial prejudice will be formally recognized. Kate was recently honored by the Garrett County Board of Commissioners for her contributions to this cause.
Kate also took an interest in unearthing Black history in Garrett County, something many local citizens know nothing about. She began combing through years of Census records to find there were many Black residents around the turn of the 20th century. Rail travel and service industries were large employers at the time, but photo records rarely show African Americans as proof. She also discovered some Black residents were landowners and farmers. Kate's research has been archived with plans of it becoming a full telling of how Black residents were an integral part of Garrett County. This invisible history paints a broader stroke of Appalachian life than was previously know.
The EMM board is sad to see Kate leave, but they are also excited for her to begin a new chapter in her life. Her relocation will place her close to her growing family and she landed a new job that will exploit her skills in social services. Although she will be miles away, Kate will be forever part of Garrett County's tapestry and the EMM family. She leaves an indelible mark of positive change that will benefit future generations.
Kate poses with friends and fellow board members at the PACE reception in Annapolis.
Kate accepts an award from Mountain Lake Park Mayor, Don Sincell for her work on Bethel Center.