Future Forward Consultant
President, Center, Communities of the Future
Rick Smyre is an internationally-recognized futurist specializing in the area of preparing local communities for a different kind of future. A graduate of Davidson College and NC State University, he is president of the Center for Communities of the Future and is an architect of the new field of "comprehensive community transformation." Mr. Smyre is past chair of the board of the American Association of Retirement Communities and was on the staff of the National Economic Development Institute for 14 years.
Mr. Smyre is married to Brownie Allen and has three children: Cinda, Deric, and Beth. In the 1970s he was CEO of a textile yarn-spinning firm. As a result of his experience at the state and local level, including chairing an NC county school board and chamber of commerce, he understands the issues local communities face when preparing for a different kind of economy and society.
Mr. Smyre’s work emphasizes the idea of preparing communities for a future that “does not exist.” The focus of this work is to develop “capacities for transformation” in the thinking and activities of citizen leaders in local communities. His articles have been published on various websites, and five papers have been published in the World Future Society’s Future Research Quarterly, The Futurist,: Beyond the Deck Chairs (1998), It is More Than Either/Or (2004), The Third Aha (2006), The Three Triangles of Transformation (2007), and Building and Connecting Communities for the Future (2012). Preparing 21st Century Rural Economies is a chapter in Knowledge Economy, published in India in 2006. In June 2008, two articles were published in Careers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology. Two articles, Leadership in Transformation and a Future Forward College, were published on the web journal of Johns Hopkins University.
Mr. Smyre speaks internationally and has provided over 400 seminars, keynotes, and retreats over the last two decades to introduce the "COTF System of Community Transformation" ideas. He has spoken at the last 19 World Future Society Conferences, most recently in Chicago in July, 2013; at Scottish Enterprise and Strathclyde University’s Talking-Thinking Conference in Glasgow, Scotland; the National Computer Ethics Conference at the Brookings Institute in DC; and a national Canadian economic development conference in Toronto. Mr. Smyre has keynoted the National Millennium Communities Conference in Houston for the US Institute of Justice; the national Future Trends Business Marketing Conference in Miami; the National Council for Resource Development in Washington, DC; the Southeastern Civil Rights Conference in Atlanta; the North Carolina & Pennsylvania Rural Center State Conferences; the North Carolina Community College System; the International Economic Development Council’s Conference; the Illinois State Association of Community College Administrators; the Mid-West Economic Development Commission Conference in Minnesota; the national Council for State Community Development Agencies; Scotland Tomorrow in Glasgow, Scotland; the state of Maine’s Economic Development Symposium, and Leadership Iowa.
Of special interest to Mr. Smyre is his work to help leaders in local communities prepare for transformational change. Mr. Smyre is presently facilitating national networks around the emerging ideas of Comprehensive Community Transformation, a Creative Molecular Economy, and a Future Forward College. All of his work is based on the idea that traditional thinking and action are increasingly obsolete in a time of radical change.