Leslie Lynn Smith

President and CEO of TechTown in Detroit. Smith joined TechTown in 2010 to be on the ground floor of economic development in Detroit. Under her leadership, TechTown launched Venture Accelerator, a boot camp-style program for entrepreneurs. In addition, TechTown received a $1 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation's (MEDC) Michigan Strategic Fund to develop the Detroit Technology Exchange in partnership with Bizdom, the Detroit Creative Corridor Center, and Detroit Innovate, an accelerator fund managed by Invest Detroit. Previously, she was director of business acceleration at the MEDC, responsible for the state's $300 million investment portfolio. Before joining the MEDC, she was CFO of Ann Arbor-based real estate firm McKinley Inc. and director of real estate for Trammell Crow Co. in Auburn Hills. Smith also chairs the Business Accelerator Network for Southeast Michigan; sits on the management committee of Invest Detroit's First Step Fund; the board of directors for Midtown Detroit Inc.; and the advisory boards for Belle Capital LP, Collision Works, C.S. Mott Center for Human Growth and Development, and Detroit Nation's DRIVE program. She received her associate's degree from Schoolcraft College, her bachelor's in management and finance from Cleary University, and her MPA from the University of Michigan-Flint.

WHERE BORN: “Detroit.”

MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONS: “One is my grandfather who passed away when I was 15. He encouraged me to be the first in our family to graduate from college, and I was. He always pushed me to create a new normal for our family. In my career, I've been blessed to have good leaders over me so I could take risks and expand my capacity and understanding, and I wouldn't have gotten where I am without bosses who allowed me to be who I am and expand under their leadership.”

LAST BOOK READ:Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh.”

WORDS THAT DESCRIBE ME: “Optimistic, focused, flexible, and relentless.”

WHERE MY FIELD/INDUSTRY IS HEADED: “We're at a real crossroads for the industry, and we're starting to unpack the model and figure out how to unpack the services. An important direction is that we'll be more connected to the market, and companies that meet the needs of the broader market will focus on speed. The real value in the supply chain is time, and the industry will be called upon to be impactful in a shorter amount of time.”

FAVORITE TECHNOLOGICAL GADGET: “My iPod with my Nike Running Fit.”


FAVORITE HOBBIES: “I'm a runner so it keeps me fit and sane.”

FAVORITE FOOD: “Three – pizza, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese, which explains why I have to run.”

MY HIDDEN TALENT: “I love to write – poetry and short stories. I'm working on a novel; it's an autobiography about the loss of my mother.”

HOW I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED: “For being a really productive partner, we don't have enough of that in the city or region; a creative problem solver, think outside box; and as a social activist, committed to economic justice and social equity.”