Darci Smith


San Francisco


Former and Longest Serving CalSAC Executive Director


For the past 20 years, Darci Smith has provided executive leadership consulting for boards and staff of local, regional, and statewide nonprofits. Prior to her consultancy work, Darci served as the executive director of CalSAC for 15 years. During that time, she built CalSAC from a small community-based agency with an annual budget of $40K into a highly visible, statewide nonprofit with a $2M budget. Darci reflects on the humble origins of CalSAC and says that the organization continues to be true to its roots:

“Afterschool is a relatively new industry that has been informal for many years. YMCAs, parks and recreation, those are the kinds of organizations that most people have traditionally associated with the term afterschool. In the beginning, people referred to afterschool programs as 'latchkey' programs. Kids used to come home to moms who stayed at home. But then that changed with more divorces and single parents raising kids alone. That created the need. That's the evolution. And that's when 'afterschool' started to become a more formalized program.”

“This is a field that only recently started to codify as a legitimate service. In California, the big impetus, the real push to legitimize the field was Prop 49. The thinking became, we need to do a better job with schools and consider the afterschool field in conjunction with schools. That was a huge boost for this field. But there were no guidelines. CalSAC took a political stand and tried to strengthen the legislation, funding, guidelines, and the field itself. That message put CalSAC into a new leadership role.”

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“I have many good memories of my years with CalSAC. Every year that I was there was a different year of work, and I learned a lot. Ruth Obel-Jorgensen has done a stellar job in navigating the next iteration, and I’m am proud of her. I’m impressed how CalSAC has navigated, kept abreast and stayed on the cutting edge of the field’s transformations over the past 35 years! There has been so much evolution since I first came on board in 1993 as Executive Director of CalSAC (then “CSAC”). The field’s terminology has morphed from latchkey, afterschool, out-of-school time, before and afterschool, and expanded learning time—all while there were major changes to program expectations, funding, qualifications and ratios. CalSAC’s continued success throughout all of this is a tribute to the oldest statewide association’s core values and practice of enriching children’s lives by empowering professionals. CalSAC is truly a grassroots organization, and it follows that from-the-ground-up definition. That’s what CalSAC offers and what is unique about it. That’s what sets CalSAC apart.  CalSAC truly represents the field. It IS the field.”