Compete Network Feature Stories

R. Tony Smith, SDL: Planning & Celebrating Meaningful Causes

Featured in our 5th Annual Faces of Sports Issue!

If you know R. Tony Smith, SDL, then you know he refers to his career and life’s purpose as the “art and business of building and celebrating community.” Whether he’s involved in some sort of community development locally as part of his day job or involved in local or international LGBTI sports, there will always be a well planned and executed celebration that gets people involved.

Thanks to the combined influence of his parents, Smith really knows how to rally people for a meaningful cause while making sure they have a good time doing it. Using his dad’s logistics expertise as a civil engineer for the Air Force and his Filipino mom’s “throwing fabulous Filipino disco and dinner parties my whole life,” he says “I engineer bringing people together based on seeing the joy of people coming together eating and dancing at my mother’s events.”

Smith has been one of the most proactive people within the LGBTI sports community for many years now. Hailing from Denver, Colorado, he and his husband Jim play for the Colorado Gay Volleyball Association and regularly take part in national and international events, including the Sin City Classic and the North American Gay Volleyball (NAGVA) championships. The 2019 NAGVA Championships are being held in Denver thanks in part to Smith’s active role helping his hometown secure the bid

His active involvement in both the 2014 Gay Games Cleveland host committee as well as the Federation of the Gay Games itself as their chief marketing officer led to his being chosen as Compete’s 2014 Mark Bingham Athlete of the Year. Smith successfully took the lead for the Gay Games’ promotion and community involvement campaign, their “Champions” ambassador program.

At the conclusion of the 2014 Gay Games Smith was elected to the Federation of Gay Games (FGG) board as their communications officer. Responsible for all publicity, communications and organization between the FGG and the Paris 2018 host committee, he helped organize the bid process for the 2022 Gay Games that were ultimately awarded to Hong Kong.

Career wise, after 18 years as the director of marketing and operations for the Cherry Creek Arts Festival (one of Colorado’s largest art festivals), Smith will be serving Denver in a different way. His last day is November 30 and beginning in December he’ll be running for Denver City Council District 10 in the 2019 May election.

Smith says he’ll be acting as the “spark plug” to reconnect all of Denver’s diverse neighbors and businesses to the city. He emphasizes that today more than ever the city’s residents need to know each other, to elevate their voices and work together to proactively support Denver’s growth in the following areas:

  • Innovating affordable housing
  • Prioritizing neighborhood preservation and safety
  • Elevating connection to residents and businesses
  • Highlighting health and wellness

Smith says all social media will be launching in early November following the elections at TonyforDenver.com as well as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. So stay tuned for the journey; Smith has a meaningful cause and you know there will be a celebration involved.

By Dirk Smith

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