Evon J. Smith | Courtesy of OneWest

Following a six-month national search, the nonprofit OneWest hired Evon J. Smith, a North Carolina real estate developer, as its president and chief executive.

She started in the role on Jan. 2. As leader of the nonprofit, Smith will help implement OneWest’s five-year strategic plan, which includes commercial and mixed-use development efforts in west Louisville neighborhoods and building partnerships with government leaders, other nonprofits and businesses.

“We chose Evon because she’s a visionary leader with experience in raising capital, getting projects off the ground, and seeing them through to completion,” Steve Poe, chair of the OneWest board and president of Poe Companies, said in a news release. “She has a proven track record in lifting up disadvantaged communities through economic development and demonstrated skills in commercial development, including financing, facility design and construction.”

During her 20 years as a real estate developer, she was a partner on a $100 million, mixed-use development in Greensboro, N.C., and led the redevelopment of the Goler Heights neighborhood in downtown Winston-Salem, which included more than 20,000 square feet of commercial and retail space and more than 200 new housing units.

“We were impressed with Evon’s proven success in developing collaborative partnerships and leveraging resources with nonprofit organizations, government entities, businesses, investors, and community stakeholders — all of which will be crucial in this role,” Costel said. “She clearly has an entrepreneurial mindset and experience managing a small startup organization with limited resources.”

Nonprofit HR Associates, a Washington, D.C.-based woman- and minority-owned executive search firm, conducted the search on OneWest’s behalf.

Smith, a graduate of Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C., is the founding president of Sustainable Community Resources, a development firm that focused on low-to-moderate income communities, and she served for a decade on North Carolina State Association of Community Development Corporations board, the North Carolina Department of Transportation Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Advisory Board, and the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership Real Estate Committee.

OneWest was started in 2014 by a group of business and civic professionals as part of Leadership Louisville’s Bingham Fellows program.