Andrea Clark Smith Discusses Diversity, Inclusion and the Inspiration That Shaped Her

By: Nikki Cronin

Andrea Clark Smith, associate chief legal officer, senior vice president, Employment, Labor, and Physician Contracting, Corporate Legal, started her career at UPMC in 2013 and now leads a team covering labor compliance, employment, immigration, physician services, and more.  

“I have always found UPMC to be open and welcoming to new ideas. There is an entrepreneurial spirit here and a willingness to try something different for the sake of improvement,” she said. 

Finding Inspiration 

Over the years, Andrea has been inspired, counseled, and mentored by many people. In seventh grade, her vice principal gave her advice that still guides her in sharing her knowledge and experience today — those who learn must teach others.  

Today, she derives wisdom and inspiration from a variety of sources, including her faith, the people around her, and influential leaders like Martin Luther King Jr.  

“I am inspired by many — our health care workers and their singular devotion to delivering care; the single mom or dad who goes to work every day and then pours everything they have into making a better life for their children; and young people who are out there standing their ground for what they believe in,” she said. “Think about it, Dr. King was murdered at age 39. By then he had already started a family, won the Nobel prize, written books, and spearheaded a movement that would galvanize a nation and change people’s lives in a positive way.”  

In her leadership role, Andrea provides support and encouragement to her team, and she enjoys seeing their professional growth. She uses her experiences and lessons learned from mentors who guided her to now guide others. 

Andrea encourages developing leaders to build their skills through: 

  • – Understanding the different leadership styles and finding out which is most comfortable for you. 
  • – Engaging with your team to learn what they want and need.  
  • – Being flexible in managing each person differently to get the best work from everyone. 

The Value of Diversity and Inclusion 

There is a difference between diversity and inclusion, as inclusion is about providing a welcoming environment for diversity where all can feel a sense of belonging and support. Both are key in the workplace and society. 

“I genuinely believe that it is very easy to see yourself and see the possibilities before you if there’s someone who looks like you in front of you,” Andrea said. “I think diversity is important because it allows another generation to see all the possibilities.” 

She also finds value in including different people and listening to other perspectives. 

“In business, we lose something if we don’t have the benefit of seeing an issue from various perspectives,” she shared. “We’re supposed to be a land of opportunity, and if there are people at the table who aren’t getting the opportunity, then we fail.” 

To foster a welcoming work environment, Andrea provided a few tips to promote inclusion and be an ally: 

  • – Don’t be afraid of differences.  
  • – Don’t make assumptions. 
  • – Meet people where they are and listen to them.  

Participating Within Our Community  

Outside of work, Andrea enjoys spending time with loved ones and is active in the community, volunteering her time to organizations that improve access and opportunity.  

She is the board chair for the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh and Literacy Pittsburgh, and she sits on boards for the Pittsburgh Legal Diversity and Inclusion Coalition, Trade Institute of Pittsburgh, and the Pittsburgh Public Theater. In 2022, she received a Diversity and Inclusion Award from Pennsylvania Women Work. 

Read more about how UPMC celebrates diversity and inclusion during Black History Month and throughout the year in First Friday. 

 * photo credit: Pennsylvania Women Work