LONDON – Dan Smoot, who has been part of the Operation UNITE team since its inception a decade ago, will step up to lead the organization effective May 15.
The UNITE Board of Directors voted Tuesday, April 30, to elevate Smoot to President and Chief Executive Officer. He will replace Karen Kelly, who helped create UNITE in 2003.
“The Board of Directors is very pleased to announce the hiring of Dan Smoot as the new executive director of UNITE,” said Board Chair Lonnie Anderson. “Dan brings great leadership skills and experience to his new position. He has served as vice president of UNITE and has demonstrated a deep sense of commitment to the program. We are confident Dan will continue the great work of our President, Karen Kelly.”
“I’ve been here from the start and will continue what we do best – arresting drug traffickers, providing treatment assistance to those dealing with an addiction, and educating our youth about the danger of drugs,” said Smoot, who has overseen the day-to-day operations of UNITE since September 2011. “I feel my time spent as vice president will make the transition to this new role easier.”
“I offer my resignation with a heavy heart,” Kelly told board members on Tuesday. “It’s been an honor to work with the thousands of volunteers, students and families struggling with addiction. I’m a different person today because of the people I’ve met and the stories I’ve heard, but there’s much more to be accomplished.”
Kelly, who is leaving to become District Director for Fifth District Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers – whose vision led to the creation UNITE – said she can think of nobody more capable of continuing the anti-drug organization’s mission.
“Dan understands Operation UNITE as well as anyone,” Kelly said. “He has a passion for our youth and compassion for families struggling with addiction. I have every confidence in his ability to take UNITE to the next level.”
Smoot is a 1982 graduate of Eastern Kentucky University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice. After completing the Kentucky State Police Academy he was assigned to Post 13 in Hazard, where he served for 22 years – 14 years in the Narcotics Division.
That experience led him to being named Director of Law Enforcement for Operation UNITE in November 2003. Under Smoot’s leadership, UNITE’s drug task force became accredited by the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police in 2005.