ADL A.I. Botnick Torch of Liberty Tribute — Michael O’Keith Smith

Michael O’Keith Smith, a positive change maker and charismatic community leader with over 40 years in the hospitality industry with Hyatt Hotels Corporation was recently awarded the ADL A.I. Botanic Torch of Liberty award. The recipients of this award are honored for their incredible accomplishments and impact which is consistent with ADL’s ( Anti-Defamation League) mission i.e. anti-hate organization, and specializing in civil right law.

Michael has been relentlessly devoted to seeking the collective good, serving a higher purpose, and sharing the gift of community. His commitment to community wellbeing can be illustrated by his history of board service. This includes chair and member positions with 13 boards of civic, professional, and national advocacy organizations. Furthermore, he has supported many programs and organizations devoted to diversity and inclusion and have been recognized for my contributions to LGBTQ+ advocacy, advancement of arts and culture, educational initiatives, and spiritual programs.

His dedication and passion for contributing to the community and bringing a positive change has been evident from his colleagues. Chris Robertson (Former owner, Hyatt Regency New Orleans) described Michael as “ a sincere, very open minded, has a heart bigger than anyone I have ever known and has done things most people only hear about”. Another colleague described Michael as caring and being the “essence of who he is and no ulterior motive”. This has been evident post Hurricane Catrina where Michael along with the then Mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu, helped rebuild parts of the city

“As an African American who grew up in the sixties all I knew was Human rights and civil rights. I was struck by Botanic who was running parallels with what the King was doing. And now I have a recognition with his name on it. I am thankful for it, and I am deeply honoured because it is a parallel of all the things I have been wanting to do and tried to do”, Michael said

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