Renee Smithens

Renee is a Canadian who has lived and worked in the UK since 1973.

For nearly 40 years, she has lived in Tedburn St Mary where she's been involved in many local activities- school governor, youth club and allotments. For the past three years, Renee has been the voluntary co-ordinator for Outreach, a community transport scheme which provides volunteer drivers for people needing to get to medical appointments.

In her professional life, Renee was a manager in the cultural sector: for what is now Arts Council England, for Teignbridge District Council and eventually managing the community, tourism, arts and heritage services for a local authority in Hampshire.

In 1998, she became a self-employed management consultant. Specialising in strategic planning, she wrote arts strategies for Exeter City and West Devon Borough Councils, as well as arts and cultural strategies for many other authorities in the South West, and business plans for a number of independent organisations.

Renee specialised in project evaluation and assessment, mainly focussing on organisational development, strategic and business planning, and worked for several organisations as an interim manager- Arts Council England South West, the Common Players and Equata, the disability arts organisation. She researched and wrote the Board and Staff Handbook for Culture South West, was a mentor for the School for Social Entrepreneurs, delivered training on behalf of the Single Parent Action Network in good governance for groups in south Devon wanting to more formally establish themselves as organisations, and led Board development days for the Cavernoma Alliance and Dance South West, amongst others.

As a volunteer, Renee was on the management committee of Exeter Women’s Aid, was a board member and Chair of Exeter Homeless Action Group and, in 2008 spent six months in Cambodia for VSO producing a funding strategy for a public health organisation as well as training health workers in rural Cambodia in basic fund-raising. She returned to Cambodia a in 2011 to work with a disability education and arts organisation to produce a business plan.

Whilst at Teignbridge District Council from 1988 to 1993, Renee developed many successful village-based projects in partnership with the Community Council of Devon (now Devon Communities Together), from the craft outreach scheme ‘Big Hand Little Hand’ based at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen, to establishing the rural touring scheme Villages in Action, which exists to this day.