Freda Mendez-Smith 

Freda Mendez-Smith advocates for the local Hispanic community

Freda Mendez-Smith, 2008 Bill French Alumni Service Award recipient, believes one person can make a difference. She has effected change through her activism for fellow Hispanics in the Kansas City area, including starting a show on Cablevision to provide role models for Hispanic viewers. 

“We tried to teach the young people the culture and to be proud of who they are,” Mendez-Smith said. “They saw people who looked like them and who had furthered their education.”

Mendez-Smith has been a member of MANA de Kansas City – an organization to empower Hispanic women through leadership development, community service and advocacy – since it was established in 1981. She initiated the Hispanic Advisory Committee that meets regularly with Chancellor Guy Bailey. One of her goals is to help draw more Hispanic faculty, staff and students to UMKC.

Mendez-Smith has served as a member of the UMKC Alumni Association Governing Board and was instrumental in developing what is now known as the Multi-Cultural and Community Outreach subdivision of the organization. She dedicates her time to numerous nonprofit organizations, including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Cabot Westside Health Center and the Mattie Rhodes Center. She has also served on the UMKC Women’s Council and helped raise money for scholarships for students through the Agapito Mendoza Scholarship Fundraising Committee.

For more information about the April 17 awards dinner, call 816-235-1563 or register online at





Read more about Alumni Award recipients' life lessons in Perspectives