Ethel and James Flinn Foundation Trustee, Leonard W. Smith passed away on January 21, 2024 at age 89

Leonard Smith was a knowledgeable and respected foundation leader, dedicated steward, and mentor to many over his career. “I will be forever thankful for Leonard’s guidance and incredible mentorship over the years, said Andrea Cole, President and CEO. His legacy in philanthropy is a lasting impact of dedication and service that the Flinn Foundation will honor and celebrate.

Leonard was involved in philanthropy most of his career, first as the attorney for the Skillman Foundation (1968-1983) and manager of the Ethel and James Flinn Foundation (1974-1983). He retired from law practice at Clark Hill to become President and Chairman of the Skillman Foundation (1983-1999). He guided the Foundation from its formative years with endowed assets of $180 million through the 1990’s as it became a recognized leader in dedicating resources to improving the lives of children in Metropolitan DetroitAt the time he retired from the Skillman Foundation, grantmaking had grown to $25 million per year and assets to over $620 million.

Leonard then devoted himself fulltime to the Flinn Foundation as Board Chairman (2000-2018), President (2000-2007), Chief Investment Officer (2008-2021) and Trustee (2000-2024). He fostered a more collaborative relationship between philanthropy and state government that led to significant improvements in mental health delivery and treatment outcomes in Michigan. 

“Leonard’s leadership was a wonderful example of how to facilitate the delivery of mental health services for so many people throughout Michigan. He will be sorely missed,” said Board Chairman, the Honorable Freddie G. Burton, Jr.

Over the years, Leonard served and assisted many nonprofit and philanthropic organizations including the Council of Michigan Foundations as Trustee and Chair, Michigan’s Children as Founding Trustee and Officer, Youth Sports and Recreation Commission of Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park, as Founding Commissioner and Officer, the Grosse Pointe Park Foundation as founding Trustee and President, the Schools of the 21st Century Corporation as Founding Board Member and Officer, the City of Detroit as member of the Youth Commission, Wayne State University Skillman Center for Children as Executive Committee member, New Detroit, Inc. as Trustee and Youth and Education Committee member.  He was also a member of the Board of Directors of Communities in Schools, the Community Leadership Council of United Way Community Services and the Investment Committee of the Wayne State University Foundation. 

A remembrance reception will be held for Leonard Smith on Saturday, February 17, 2024 from 4:00pm to 6:00pm at the Country Club of Detroit, 220 Country Club Drive, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI.

Donations may be made to the East Side Youth Sports Foundation (formerly Grosse Pointe Hockey Association), the Thompson L. Smith Book Fund at the Taft School, or a charity of your choice.

East Side Youth Sports Foundation

4831 Canyon Street

Detroit, MI 48236

The Thompson L. Smith Book Fund

The Taft School

110 Woodbury Road Watertown, CT 06795-2100