Meet Alisa Smallwood: 'Every Day I Lean on My Faith in my Work'



Alisa Smallwood is one of the lucky people whose job compliments her faith. As Vice President for Development of Grady Health Foundation, Alisa connects donors with the Grady Health System’s mission to meet the healthcare needs of Georgia’s underserved population.

“I am truly blessed to work at a place where some of the greatest advances in medicine take place, but also where anyone who needs it can get healthcare," said Alisa.

Alisa's mother was a musician and teacher, and “the lady who always accompanied pastors on the piano,” she said. The family joined a United Methodist Church after moving to Atlanta when Alisa and her sister were still young.

“We were raised as every Sunday Christians,” she explains, adding that they were active in choir and youth group.

But, as often happens, she stopped going to church in college and didn’t really return on a regular basis until she moved back to Atlanta as an adult. There she fell in love with the music ministry at Atlanta First UMC and was impressed by the pastor, Rev. Jasmine Smothers. She’s now an active member of the church.

“What I’m most excited about at Atlanta First UMC is that we have the opportunity to really show what Methodism means – how to make an impact and truly exemplify what Jesus was about. We are committed to being the hands and feet of Jesus in the world today,” she said.

Which also ties back to her career. “I feel like the work that I’m doing at Grady is mission work as well. With fundraising, it’s so important to be able to personally connect to what you want other people to connect and give to. Since Grady’s mission is to help those in need, just as Jesus taught, I connect in a deep way. Sure, like any job, mine has its challenges, but my faith gives me fuel to meet them. Every day I lean on my faith in my work.”

Alisa faced a personal challenge when she lost her sister to breast cancer in 2017. And every day she was reminded of those facing similar struggles at her job. Needless to say, it was hard.

“I would not have been able to come back to work were it not for my faith. It kept me going - so much so that now my work is coming into play at my church as well. Atlanta First is currently envisioning new ways to live into its future of worshipping God, serving people, growing together and engaging the City of Atlanta. “

“So of course, it’s gonna involve some fundraising,” she said with a giggle.

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