Honoree Headshot

Wolf Smith

Executive Director
Conflict Resolution Center - St. Louis

Location: St. Louis, MO
Founded: 2017
Industry: Mediation and Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution Center – St. Louis was founded in 2017, in the wake of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. The organization began working with the City of St. Louis to mediate conflicts between citizens and police, neighbors, landlords and workplaces. The contribution to the city soon expanded to offering conflict training during city employee orientation, endeavoring to create a more peaceful working environment.

Wolf Smith (they/them) joined CRCSTL as executive director in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic and prompted growth with the launch of a housing meditation program, offering mediations even where the parties had a pending court case.

With Smith at the helm, the organization’s impact in the community grew from dozens to hundreds of mediations in 2020, serving more than 1,000 St. Louisans. “Wolf was tasked with bringing the organization into the modern era and did so with an intentional focus on the wants and needs of the client, prioritizing compassion and humanity while upholding the highest level of professionalism that one could expect from the field of mediation,” their staff said. “In doing so, Wolf has increased the annual organizational revenue sixfold.”

Smith’s vision for CRCSTL is unconventional as it does not contain the typical revenue metrics or organizational growth targets. Instead of a vision statement, the future of CRCSTL is governed by a series of questions: How can we bring more compassion and empathy to our community?

According to their staff, Wolf Smith would never describe themselves as a titan of the industry. “Their reluctance to self-describe in such a way doesn’t diminish the truth of the statement,” they said. “Instead of a scarcity mindset which leads to burnout and reduces quality of services, under Wolf ’s leadership, we have embarked on a mission to re-imagine conflict resolution and the nonprofit model.”

Wolf leads with the philosophy that no one should ever feel less than – both clients and staff. “This ideology permeates every aspect of Wolf ’s leadership and service philosophy,” said their staff. “Wolf ’s resiliency and determination have contributed to an internal culture we want to manifest in the world – one full of compassion, embracing differences and empowerment.”

According to Smith, success comes from a commitment to innovation at all levels. “For us, innovation involves three main steps – radical listening, intentional strategizing and fearless doing,” they said. “We offer our clients grace and compassion and extend the same level of grace and compassion to staff.”

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Honoree fun fact

Wolf is an accomplished aerialist and even is a part-time instructor at Bumbleshoot Aerial.

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