Frank J. Smith, Armstrong High School – Richmond, Virginia

Frank J. Smith grew up in Richmond, Virginia where he attended Armstrong High School. At Armstrong, he played four years of football and baseball for the Wildcats and was the starting center for four years. He was well regarded not only for his athletic ability, but also his enthusiastic leadership and commitment to building up fellow teammates. Frank’s skills earned him a full scholarship to Hampton Institute where he had continued success on the football field as a two way starter for 3.5 years.

Frank was honored as the Most Valuable Player and was the recipient of he Willard Saxby Townsend Trophy, the most distinguished award offered to a Hampton athlete at the time. His dedication to others also continued as he was known to tutor his teammates and ensure they were excelling on the field and in the classroom. Frank credits his upbringing in Richmond and the valuable lessons he gained at Hampton to his success in the very competitive business world.

Immediately after graduating from Hampton Institute, Frank landed his first job at Melpar Incorporated, an engineering firm that worked on a government contract that manufactured the printing of circuit boards for the Minute Man Intercontinental Ballistic Missile System. He finished at the top of his training class, which was composed of some of the brightest graduates from Cal Tech, MIT, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and Hampton Institute. His work earned him membership to the prestigious American Institute of Industrial Engineers and prompted him to pursue his MBA at American University. He would complete his MBA degree while working at Vitro Research Laboratory, which oversaw the systems that launched the Polaris Nuclear Submarine 616 Class Fleet. Frank was also the first African American to be named president of a local chapter of the American Institute of Industrial Engineering.

Frank’s success would lead him to East Hartford, Connecticut where he was recruited by United Technologies’ Pratt and Whitney Division. There he worked on the TF30 jet engine for F111 fighter planes and JT9D engine for the Boeing 747 jumbo jet. He yet again excelled in this role while maintaining deep ties to his roots as a member of the Hampton Alumni Association Hartford Chapter, where he helped recruit over 100 students to eventually attend Hampton. In 1974, Frank joined Travelers Insurance Company and was soon promoted to the Director of Agency Administration and Agency Management Consulting Division, and eventually, as the first African American Vice President.

Frank is currently the President and CEO for Sphinx, located in Williamsburg, Virginia and is internationally acclaimed by leaders in his field. He has been appointed by two different governors to advisory boards, been the senior advisor on several business firm boards, and has served on many community organizations. Frank’s career is marked by significant professional accomplishments,
trailblazing efforts, and an overall passion for helping others.

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