Former Notre Dame football running back Chris Smith ('85) began his three-year term on the Monogram Club board of directors in June 2004. Smith was a key member of the Notre Dame backfield during his four seasons with the Irish football team, graduating in 1985 with a degree in American studies and playing two seasons with the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs. He has gone on to hold various leadership positions with Sprint, Gateway and Teletech Holdings, serving 14 years in sales and customer service management as a proven leader in telesales and customer relations. He currently is CEO and president of Divine Cleaning LLC, a commercial cleaning contractor in the Kansas City area.
The majority of Smith's post-graduate employment years were spent working for Sprint Communications ('90-'95, '97-'02) in four different cities, managing several groups in areas such as sales, service, training, resource management, and recognition/incentive programs. He was a sales supervisor in Kansas City from 1990-92, receiving a Presidents Club Award for having the top 10% of revenue in the company. Smith then was promoted to lead an inside sales organization as a sales manager ('92-'94) before being promoted to site manager for Sprint's Maryland Relay Center in Baltimore ('94-'95), where he directed a staff of 200 that oversaw services to the deaf and hard-of-heading community while handling 30,000-plus calls per month. He also developed a FlexBank attendance program for the Maryland Relay Center.
Smith returned to Sprint as a group manager in Lenexa, Kan. ('97-'01), directing a sales operation staff. He then was named a director for Sprint's operation in New Century, Kan. ('01-'02), where he led an implementation effort to provide CRM solution (Siebel, Genesys, PeopleSoft) for the call center while also developing a successful employee compensation plan.
Prior to his first stint with Sprint, Smith worked as a store manager in Blue Springs, Mo., for the aftermarket retailer Autoworks, Inc. ('87-'88) and was a management trainee with the Marriot Corp. in Kansas City ('88) before serving as a Holiday Inn banquet and catering manager in Olathe, Kan. ('88-'89). He later was a sales and service manager for Gateway Computers in Kansas City ('95-'97), with responsibility for 250-plus employees while helping drive more than $600 million annually in personal computer sales. Most recently in '03-'04, he was a site director in Topeka, Kan., with TeleTech Holdings, a global provider of customary management solutions.
Smith - who received his MBA from Baker University in Overland Park, Kan. ('01) - was one of 55 former Notre Dame football players who competed in the 2000 Charity Bowl in Hamburg, Germany (the ND alumni team won that game, 14-10, over the Hamburg Blue Devils). The four-year monogram winner was the fourth-leading rusher as a freshman tailback on the 1981 Irish team and then served mostly as a special teams player and goalline rusher in 1982 (after the arrival of Allen Pinkett, who would go on to become ND's all-time leading rusher). Smith then split time at fullback in '83 with fellow Cincinnati native Mark Brooks, with Smith starting 11 games while gaining 421 yards on 77 carries. That total does not include the career-best 104 yards he gained on 18 rushes in the 1983 Liberty Bowl victory over Boston College (marking the second time he earned offensive MVP honors in '83). He continued to share time with his classmate and roommate Brooks in '84, gaining 260 yards on 61 carries (yielding a career total of 846 rushing yards) while helping Pinkett finish 19th on the NCAA career rushing charts.
A consensus All-American at LaSalle High School, Smith rumbled for 1,300-plus yards as a prep senior (including a school-record 94-yard run) and also was a two-year letterwinner as the leading scorer and rebounder with the LaSalle basketball team.
Smith was signed by the Chiefs as a free agent but failed to make the final 1985 roster. He returned to training camp in '86 and earned a spot on the final roster, only to be sidelined for most of the year due to a knee injury. He then closed out his football career by playing for the Chiefs in the strike-shortened 1987 season.
In addition to serving as president of the Notre Dame Alumni Club of Kansas City and on the board of directors for the Black Alumni of Notre Dame, Smith also has been active as a Kansas City Chiefs Ambassador and with the Derrick Thomas Third and Long Foundation. He and his wife Billie Jean resides in Olathe, Kan. and are parents of two children: Sheena, a junior at the University of Kansas, and Brian, a sophomore at St. Thomas Aquinas High School.