Donna Aronoff Smith
Executive Vice President
Donna Smith, Executive Vice President and co-founder of Smith NMTC Associates, LLC wrote the successful Habitat for Humanity International-Smith Associates allocation application that pioneered New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) funding for Habitat for Humanity affiliates throughout the United States. Creatively addressing the challenges of funding a wide range of smaller Qualified Low Income Community Investments (QLICIs), Donna helped create The NMTC Housing Model used in a total of 33 transactions with nonprofit affordable for sale housing developers including Habitat for Humanity affiliates and HPN members (QALICBs). By aggregating smaller Qualified Active Low Income Community Businesses (QALICBs) in one transaction, with separate Qualified Low Income Community Investments (QLICIs) as small as $500k per transaction for each QALICB, to build a total transaction amount of $5M or higher; the NMTC Housing Model makes these transactions beneficial for smaller QALICBs by keeping transaction costs low and benefits high for each QALICB because they split the costs. Smith NMTC has used this model to fund more than 100 QALICBs, including 9 Housing Partnership Network members in 33 transactions with over $398.7 million in NMTC funding resulting in over 3,800 homes for Low Income families in 32 states.
Donna is the lead writer of all NMTC Certification and Allocation Applications that Smith NMTC writes on behalf of its partners. Among her other responsibilities, Donna oversees the compliance team that monitors the QALICBs and provides reporting, compliance and accounting assistance to them for reporting purposes. As Compliance Officer, she also completes the Community Investment Impact Systems (CIIS) reporting.
Within her own community, Donna works closely with organizations striving to better the City of St. Louis. She was a founding member of the organization and past Board President for America SCORES St. Louis, an affiliate of America SCORES (an after-school soccer, poetry, and service learning program for at-risk youth); and previously served as president, vice president and member of her local school board. Donna serves as the Board Chair of City Garden Montessori School, a sliding scale Montessori pre-school and a K-8 Montessori charter school in the city of St. Louis with an anti-bias anti-racist focus and foundation. As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University School of Law, Donna taught courses in civil practice.
Along with the Smith NMTC team, Donna continues to develop and pioneer new ways to implement New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) and other incentives for robust, sustainable, low income communities poised to grow and flourish for the long term, including partnering with The Housing Partnership Network to support the launch and continued success of its new affordable for-sale housing initiative that will combine reasonable rates and terms with manual underwriting, pre and post homebuyer financial counseling and homeowner education and high touch loan servicing to enable low to moderate income homebuyers who are currently locked out of the mortgage market to attain the dream of sustainable homeownership.
Prior to founding Smith NMTC, Donna practiced litigation and appellate law and did technical writing. A recipient of the William Webster Criminal Law Scholarship, she received her J.D. from Washington University School of Law and was on staff and published in the Washington University Law Quarterly. In private practice, Donna specialized in appellate work, appearing numerous times before the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals as counsel for the Special School District in the St. Louis desegregation case.
Donna is also the author of the following articles: “Don’t Leave NMTC Borrowers Behind: How a Support System Prevents Recapture Risk,” “Innovative Strategies for Community Redevelopment Projects: Minimizing Risk While Maximizing Returns” and “NMTC Model Answers CDFI’s Call for Innovation for QLICIs under $2 Million.” Donna was also quoted in a recent article “NMTC Practitioners Finding Ways to Complete Small Deals” featuring Smith NMTC Associates and others.