Fathay Smith-Kiawu ’09

Meet Our Donors - Fathay Smith-Kiawu '09

Fathay Smith-Kiawu

At Episcopal, Tay Smith-Kiawu ’09 learned to follow his passions. Originally hailing from the Upper East Side of New York City, Smith-Kiawu went from Episcopal to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, where he majored in civil engineering. While he knew by his senior year that he didn’t necessarily want to be a civil engineer, he loved his major and credits it with helping him learn to think critically and analytically.

“I had a pretty eclectic focus at Episcopal,” said Smith-Kiawu, “which I think is why I loved it so much.” During his four years on campus, he played varsity football, ran varsity track, performed in musicals, and was a member of the chamber singers and the boys’ a cappella group Jack of Hearts. On Episcopal allowing him to be himself, he said: “I got to explore so many different sides of myself. I felt like I became a really well-rounded human being while there.”

After a successful run opening and running a popular clothing store in Dallas, Smith-Kiawu returned to New York City to work in real estate. In his spare time, he undertook many philanthropic pursuits, planting a seed of giving back that has defined his career path since. He and a friend founded the Dallas Autumn Ball in 2013, which helps underprivileged Title IX schools conduct literacy programs. The event has raised nearly $200,000 for Dallas education organization since its inception.

His love of reading and his desire to help other students, especially minority males, was cultivated while at Episcopal thanks to his teacher Dr. Bill Hannum. “He was so influential in changing the way I looked at the English language and reinvigorating my love of learning. Before, I was just reading because I had to. Even today, I still try to read two books a month thanks to Dr. Hannum.” And Smith-Kiawu is determined to pass that feeling along to the next generation.

Thanks to his experience at Episcopal and his work with local children through his philanthropic endeavors, Smith-Kiawu began to toy with the idea of going back to school to study developmental psychology. He is currently applying to PhD programs in the northeast to continue down that path.

To this day, Smith-Kiawu remains close with all his Episcopal friends from the Class of ’09. “It’s a true testament to the connections that you make at Episcopal.” When asked why he prioritizes annual giving to the various institutions and organizations he loves, Smith-Kiawu answered: “I’ve always looked at it like I was thankful to be so fortunate. I’ve always wanted to pay it forward and help the next generation in any way I can.”

“I got to explore so many different sides of myself [at Episcopal]. I felt like I became a really well-rounded human being while there.”