Reginald “Reggie” Smith is the Founder and Board Member of Building Promise USA. Raised in the Third Ward of Houston, Texas, he cycled through alternative schools and “at risk youth” programs only to be funneled into the juvenile justice system at the age of sixteen and the adult system at seventeen. This began a more than twenty-year odyssey of substance use and criminal justice-involvement, treatment programs and prison cells.
Finding himself in a federal prison in Beaumont, Texas for the second time, he remembered what his grandmother used to tell him as a boy, “If it is to be, it begins with me.” It was then that he realized that if he didn’t make an extraordinary effort to change, nothing was going to change in his life! Again, he remembered his grandmother told him, “If not now, when?” So, he made a commitment to himself that day to overcome any personal adversity, real or perceived, that would keep him from achieving his goals and reaching his full potential.
Reggie has gone on to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work from the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin. He was the Communities for Recovery, Hogg Peer Policy Fellow from 2016 – 2018 and a Policy Analyst for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition for 2018 – 2019. He is currently a Senior Advisor for the Peer Service Unit of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Reggie’s mission is to help build a community-based infrastructure of reentry support services to assist individuals with criminal justice involvement and behavior health challenges to achieve their goals and reach their full potential.