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The Board of Directors is responsible for employing a Chief Executive Officer and provides direction to the CEO through establishment of the association ENDS. The Board elects one of its members as the association President, a volunteer who works closely with the CEO.
Peg Smith has served as the Chief Executive Officer of the American Camp Association since 1998. Smith, with over thirty years experience working with children, youth, and families, is widely recognized for her entrepreneurial work style and organizational capacity—and her ability to move people, organizations, and government agencies through significant change.
Born and raised in Indiana, Smith has a B.S. in early childhood and family studies and a master's degree in management. She began her career in 1974 as a Head Start teacher, then serving as director of the Head Start program for a five-county area, expanding program services by 74 percent. She then was appointed director of the Children’s Division for Child Adult Resource Services. During her tenure in this position, Smith encouraged a wide array of agencies to effectively collaborate and to develop multi-county alliances—and was also able to increase the nearly $500,000 budget by 30 percent with funds raised from individuals and corporations.
In 1991, Smith joined the staff of the Office of the Governor of Indiana as the director of the Governor's Step Ahead initiative. Smith managed a $43.3 million budget, which included state and federal dollars as well as private funding. In 1995, Smith became the executive director of the Indiana Youth Institute (IYI) in Indianapolis, Indiana. IYI is an intermediary agency serving the youth of Indiana by supporting adults statewide who care about youth—both youth-serving professionals and policymakers—with research, training, and advocacy.
In 1998, Smith became the chief executive officer of the American Camp Association® (ACA) in Martinsville, Indiana. The American Camp Association is a national organization representing over 7,000 individual members and over 2,400 ACA-Accredited® camps. ACA is a community of camp professionals who, for nearly one hundred years, have joined together to share knowledge and experience and to promote positive human development by enriching the lives of children, youth, and adults through the camp experience.
Smith presents at both state and national conferences for varied professional associations and youth-serving groups.
The current president of the association is Tisha Bolger, who is the Chief Operating Officer of the Girl Scouts of Minnesota River Valleys. Bolger serves as the chief operating officer of the Girl Scouts of Minnesota Wisconsin River Valleys, overseeing one of the largest Girl Scout councils in the country. She has also been a member of ACA’s Transition Team, using skills and experience from Girl Scout mergers to help ACA unite separate sections across the country into a unified association.
Bolger has received numerous awards for her work and has served on boards and advisory councils — including a term on the ACA, Northland Section Board. She formerly served as program director of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation and as C.E.O. of Alpha Youth Care Services in Wisconsin.
Bolger holds a master’s degree in Education, Recreation, and Outdoor Education from the University of Minnesota, and a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Carroll College in Helena, Montana.
“We are excited to continue our work with Tisha,” said Peg Smith, ACA’s chief executive officer. “Her experience and leadership will be tremendously beneficial to ACA as we continue our transition to ACA, Inc.”
Of ACA’s future, Bolger says, “ACA has a lot of energy. By looking at the brutal truths and using our attributes to help us, we will be successful for the next 100 years. We have to identify our leverage points — public policy and serving as an advocate is one, working collaboratively with the business sector and nonprofits is another. Understanding these points of leverage will take us places we haven’t been before, deepening our market share.”