Mount Hope A.M.E. Zion in White Plains, New York; New York Annual Conference, has received approval to build a $28 million, Mt. Hope Plaza, which will be a six-story affordable housing apartment building for senior citizens with 56 rental units designed to meet the needs of seniors. “It is something we’ve been talking about since the church moved in 1972 to its present location. This is something that’s needed in White Plains,” Dr. Gregory R. Smith, the Pastor said. “Seniors have a difficult time finding affordable housing. It’s a dream come true!”
Plans also call for a 3,000 square foot four-story addition to the church itself, to expand space for offices, a nursery school and to make the church more visible from its Lake Street location. “A 167-foot tall atrium, topped by a cross, will make it look more like a church,” Pastor Smith said. The residents of the community applauded news of the plans.
The origin of Mount Hope dates back to 1827, when the Quakers of Purchase, New York liberated the slaves and settled them on the rugged highlands in the Silver lake section of White Plains, New York.
In 1985 when Dr. Smith assumed the Pastorate of Mt. Hope, he completed the building of the church’s present sanctuary as well as refurbished the interior and exterior and other massive renovations. This project becomes an integral part of his ministry.
Dr. Smith is truly a renaissance person who has successfully integrated a successful career as a businessman, public servant and religious leader. He has more than twenty years of successful senior management positions with multi-national organizations with a responsibility for $2+ billion in revenue from marketing as well as multi-million dollar fund raising campaigns. Along with his proven track record of success leading non-governmental, private voluntary and religious agencies and Fortune 100 companies, he also has strong expertise in the development of strategic alliances between the public and private sectors.
He was appointed by President George Bush as President and Chief Executive Officer of the African Development Foundation, an independent Federal agency in Washington, D.C., with offices in 25 African nations and a staff of over 3000 people. Dr. Smith continued to serve in this position in the President Bill Clinton Administration. He was the Director of International Disaster Response for Church World Service (CWS), an entity of the National Council of Churches (NCC). His responsibility was to direct worldwide international relief assistance and aid on behalf of the 30 member Protestant denominations. At the CWS-NCC he raised more than $200 million in program support.
Presently he is the President of Prince Hall Development Fund LLC & Prince Hall Fund, Inc. NYC – a multi-million dollar not-for-profit 501(c)3 foundation providing programs, funds and grants to other entities
Dr. Smith is a charter member and and was Chair of the Westchester County Human Rights Commission. His experience in Public and Not-For-Profit Housing is also significant. He currently serves on the Board of White Plains Housing Authority and the Diversity Committee of the White Plains Board of Education. Additionally, he served on the Board of Directors and Treasurer and Auditing Committee Chair of Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement, Inc. (HCCI). HCCI has also helped reduce crime in the community, increase public sanitation, and preserve and transform open space. Leveraging more than $240 million in support from federal, state, and city agencies, HCCI’s real estate office has developed more than 3,000 units of low, moderate and middle-income housing and nearly 50 commercial spaces including a 45,000 sq. ft. Pathmark supermarket.
A graduate with honors from Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina, Dr. Smith also earned two Masters and two Doctoral degrees, an MBA Degree in Marketing and Finance, a Master of Divinity Degree, a Doctorate in Higher Education Administration and Finance and a Doctorate in Ministries.
Dr. Smith is the grand nephew of the late great Paul Robeson. He is married to Dr. Brenda L. G. Smith a former Superintendent of Schools in Mt. Vernon, NY. She is currently the United Nations NGO representative for the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women. Dr. Smith has traveled to every country in Africa except five, and over 30 other nations of the world. His philosophy of life and service is stated in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. who said in 1948 on his application to Crozer Seminary... “I have an inescapable urge to serve society, and a sense of responsibility, which I could not escape.”