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Padilla Sr. VP, Robertson School alumnae to deliver spring commencement address

May 2, 2018

Posted in: News

Tim Bajkiewicz, Ph.D., School Associate Director

Natalie Smith, a senior vice president at the Richmond-based public relations firm Padilla and an alumnae of the Robertson School, will deliver the spring 2018 commencement address on May 11.
Natalie Smith, a senior vice president at the Richmond-based public relations firm Padilla and an alumnae of the Robertson School, will deliver the spring 2018 commencement address on May 11.

A senior vice president of Padilla, a Richmond-based, top 10 independent public relations and communications company, and an alumnae of the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture will deliver the School’s spring commencement address on May 11.

Natalie Smith oversees strategy for Padilla’s work for Dominion Energy and Children’s Hospital of Richmond. She also leads employee engagement strategy for the Virginia Lottery, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Sentara Healthcare. Previously, she led Padilla’s work for Bridgestone Americas, based in Nashville, Tennessee.

Smith graduated with a master’s degree in mass communications/media management from the then-VCU School of Mass Communications and has a bachelor’s degree in communications from James Madison University.

Smith will deliver her commencement address, “Wonder and wander,” to about 2000 guests, including 200 bachelors and masters graduates, who are expected to attend the ceremony at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, 403 N 3rd St., on May 11 at 2 p.m. in Exhibit Hall D.

Dr. Hong Cheng, School director, said he always looks forward to the commencement speakers.

"They are always interesting people who have done amazing things, like Natalie. Students will come away from her speech with some, I would call, pearls of wisdom to help them make a great life for themselves," Cheng said.

At Padilla, Smith is responsible for corporate culture, employee engagement and internal communications, and is currently overseeing an agency-wide effort to refine the company’s values and culture. She also serves as the site director for the Richmond office with more than 40 employees.

Before joining Padilla, Smith was president of Smith & Associates Public Relations. Clients included Henrico Doctors’ Hospital, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, Commerce Bank, Hannaford Supermarkets and Cloverleaf Mall.

In addition to its office in Richmond, Padilla has offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington D.C. and Minneapolis. It has 240 “employee-owners” and began in Richmond as the public relations firm Carter Ryley Thomas (CRT) in 1996.