Brown-Smith credits mother’s influence as inspiration to succeed

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Nathan Wilson | Reporter
Clarissa Brown-Smith was confirmed as the new finance director for the city of Natchitoches in a vote of the city council Feb. 15.
She expressed that she is excited to return to Natchitoches where she was “born and raised” and spoke of her late mother Cynthia Charles Wilson and her constant encouragement as the inspiration for her achievements. As one of eight, Brown-Smith felt her mother made raising her and her siblings look “easy as that” while also working as a hospital warden. She still grieves the loss of her mom, who passed away in 2020, but finds renewed resolve in knowing that “she is looking down on me… seeing everything I do.”
After graduating from Natchitoches Central High School, Brown-Smith Louisiana College attended Louisiana College where she was awarded her bachelor’s degree in accounting. She then earned her master’s degree in business administration from Grand Canyon College while concentrating in accounting.

This article published in the Feb. 17, 2022, print edition

Brown-Smith will be leaving Shriner’s hospital for children where she is CFO and Director of Fiscal Services. Having previously worked at Outpatient Medical Center in Natchitoches, she described her role there as having helped prepare her for overseeing federal grants and other funding. Speaking on the strength of her candidacy, Brown-Smith insisted that she does not necessarily feel that she has stronger qualifications than other candidates, but that she is well prepared for the role.
Brown-Smith envisions her role for the city of Natchitoches as being an essential adviser to the mayor on matters of funding. She plans to foster an environment in which the directors of other departments feel “comfortable with their budgets”, while they maintain oversight of their expenses. Part of this oversight means maintaining the city’s finances within the state’s expenditure benchmarks, which aims to control costs within 5% of the previous year, while also working to obtain grant funding for the mayor’s initiatives.