Lydia SmithLydia Smith

Director Diversity & Inclusion Kohl's

Holding an MBA in Marketing from Florida A&M University, Lydia began her career defeating the odds when she accepted a role in an opposing functional space, Information Technology. As an IT leader, she was selected to be part of a prestigious, fast-track leadership program at General Electric where she quickly rose to become a stellar leader in the global organization. Due to her tenacity, Lydia was tapped to lead the diversity recruitment initiatives, not only for the IT department, but also for the company's African American Employee Resource Group. With the creation of her professional development and retention strategies, GE Healthcare saw the number underrepresented minorities in IT increase by a stunning 50%.

As her drive for recruitment grew, so did her passion for diversity. She became co-owner of a professional organization, Social X, which focuses on connecting, developing and retaining minority talent in the city of Milwaukee. As the Director of Business Development, Lydia was able to help grow the organization from 50 to over 1000 people in just 3 years. After her career in IT and Marketing, she pursued her passion, making a courageous decision to move into Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) full time. She took her first D&I role with Northwestern Mutual, quickly being promoted to Assistant Director of Diversity & Inclusion.

Today Lydia is the Director of Diversity & Inclusion at Kohl’s. She obtained a Diversity & Inclusion certification from Cornell University and continues to influence work in the space. With more than 10 years of experience in the field she’s regarded as a subject-matter expert, sits on multiple Chief Diversity Officer and Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) Councils, and speaks nationally. She is Vice Chair of the YMCA’s Social Responsibility Committee and sits on boards for Milwaukee Excellence Charter School and Just a Girl Global. Residing in Milwaukee, WI, Lydia is a mother of three daughters, a published author, and community advocate.