Tonnie Smith named to Who's Who in America's Neighborhoods Honor Roll

  • Published: Friday, June 2, 2023

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Tonnie Gilspie Smith, a volunteer with West End South Community Improvement District in St. Louis, was named to the Who’s Who in America’s Neighborhoods Honor Roll during the 48th annual Neighborhoods USA (NUSA) national conference in El Paso, Texas, May 24-28.

Each Who’s Who in America’s Neighborhoods nominee is evaluated by the NUSA board of directors. There were six nominees this year, but only Smith earned Who’s Who status.

NUSA is a nonprofit organization created in 1975 to share information and experiences among neighbors and neighborhoods to build stronger communities. This year’s conference drew more than 625 people from 34 states and featured various workshops, speakers, tours and networking opportunities along with an awards program.

The Who’s Who in America’s Neighborhoods award recognizes individuals whose work mirrors the mission of Neighborhoods USA: To build and strengthen neighborhoods associations, encourage neighborhood involvement in local decision-making and promote productive communications and collaborations among neighborhood associations, local governments and the public/private sector.

Smith was nominated by Claire Wolff, University of Missouri Extension education director for community development.

“Tonnie Smith is selfless and quietly dedicated but also tremendously effective,” wrote Wolff. “Tonnie volunteers for her neighborhood more than most of us work at our full-time jobs. She has prioritized planning and inclusivity. She has devoted countless hours to convening meetings, gaining resident consensus, managing competing priorities, and ensuring community comes first.”

Smith founded the West End South Community Improvement District. She serves on several additional West End boards, including Cornerstone Housing, STL ArtWorks and a local group trying to bring a trolley to the area. Tonnie received the 2020 St. Louis Regional Community Builders Network Resident Leadership Award for her exceptional contributions to her neighborhood. She is a graduate of MU Extension’s Neighborhood Leadership Academy and Neighborhood Leadership Fellows program.

“Tonnie is a dreamer, a doer, and a collaborator,” wrote Wolff. “She jump-started a neighborhood planning collaboration, has completed numerous actionable projects for her community, and has collaborated with partners to draw support for her community.”

MU Extension is at the forefront of a national movement recognizing the importance of neighboring in community development. Learn more about the Engaged Neighbor Project at

Writer: David Burton

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Claire Wolff

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