Debbie Smatresk's biography
Debbie Smatresk is a retired Occupational Therapist and Certified Hand Therapist. She held several managerial and director positions throughout her career including those at Texas Health Resources in Arlington, and for Easter Seals Hawaii’s statewide Early Childhood Intervention Services program. Following a long and successful career as an occupational therapist, Debbie has become deeply involved as an advocate, friend and fundraiser for the universities where her husband, Neal Smatresk, held positions.
At the University of North Texas, Debbie is deeply engaged with the university and greater Denton communities. Her work revolves around her activities with a number of charitable and community organizations, and with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNT, which provides programming for active seniors. In her role as a board member for OLLI at UNT, she was instrumental in securing a $100,000 grant from the Bernard Osher Foundation, which had ceased funding for universities. Because of the deep relationship Debbie and Neal established with the Osher family and board while serving at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the board agreed to fund just one additional program, and chartered OLLI at UNT. The program is eligible for and fully expects to receive the follow up $1,000,000 in September 2018 to run programs for active seniors. As a member of the Osher Lifelong Advising Council since 2015, Debbie also helped transition the Emeritus College into the OLLI at UNT program, and has been active in their many functions.
In direct support of the university, Debbie started the Diamond Eagles, a group dedicated to supporting UNT with a simple mission. For an annual $1,000 contribution, members vote and fund projects which support the President’s Strategic Plans. The group raised $85,000 in its inaugural year.
Debbie hosts a wide variety events on campus and in her home for donors, community organizations, the university and, most fun of all, for students. She also is involved in mentoring UNT’s Pre-Occupational Therapy student group and national organization, and designing and funding an environmental play area and garden for the UNT Child Development Lab.
Debbie serves on a number of community boards including the United Way of Denton County as an incoming member of the Executive Board and as a member of the Community Impact Committee, which manages grant appropriations; the National Resource Center at Northwestern University to plan curriculum and activities for an April 2018 national conference in San Francisco; and the Denton Benefit League as a grant appropriations committee member and leader of multiple fundraising events. As a board member for the Fred Moore Day Nursery School, a program which serves low income families, Debbie secured funding from Educational First Steps to support classroom and curriculum enhancement. She recently began organizing fundraising events for Health Services of North Texas in Denton County.
At the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Debbie was involved in a number of charitable organizations and university programs including the Sunrise Children’s Foundation, a group that offered rehabilitation services to low income families. She also was heavily involved with the OLLI program at UNLV and, as a direct result of her success and grant writing efforts, secured over $2.2 million in grants and endowments for UNLV. She also initiated a capital campaign to secure funding for the Educational Outreach Building at UNLV.