New mansion preservation director reorganizes docent program, events

There is a new face in the Governor’s Mansion.

Laura Bennett-Smith joined Missouri Mansion Preservation as the executive director just over a year ago and has since found little chance for rest.

“This has been a full year of restructuring and strengthening our programs,” Bennett-Smith said.

The docents program has taken on many changes under her leadership, and for the first time, men have begun to join the group.

Plans for reorganizing holiday events are under way and include the mansion taking on a different look than even the most frequent of visitors may not recall from years past.

The purpose is to keep the building as true to its historical roots as possible. The education programs offered by the mansion date back to the days of Gov. and Mrs. Bond.

“During tours, our docents always tell children that they could live here one day and the home belongs to the people of Missouri. Carolyn Bond formalized the docent program and is the founder of Missouri Mansion Preservation. For more than 35 years, we have raised valuable funds and awareness to meet the interior needs of the Missouri Governor’s Mansion,” Bennett-Smith said.

Smith grew up moving frequently as a “military brat,” but said she has always called Jefferson City home.

She has an undergraduate degree in political science from Lincoln University and a master’s degree in corporate communications with an emphasis in training and development from Lindenwood University.

Bennett-Smith brings more than 15 years of nonprofit management, strategic planning and fundraising experience to Missouri Mansion Preservation. She said she believes in mission-based programming that engages the community and efficiently uses public resources. She has directed fundraising programs for Lindenwood University, SSM Hospice and Home Care Foundation, and Children’s Home Society of Missouri.

There are more than 60,000 visitors annually to the Governor’s Mansion, and more than 6,000 volunteer hours are used to help support those visitors and programs.

Bennett-Smith is proud to be able to provide the programs and services for all of the people in the state.

“It is a privilege to care for a local residence to more than 35 first families, and a home that belongs to the people of Missouri,” she said.

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