Camp Fire First Texas has grown its leadership team with the addition of David Simpson, chief operating officer, and the promotion of Jen Smith to vice president outdoor connection.
David Simpson, chief operations officer
Brian Miller, Camp Fire President/CEO said, “I’m delighted to share the exciting news of David Simpson joining Camp Fire First Texas as chief operating officer. The addition of a COO to our leadership team reinforces our commitment to efficiency, innovation, and sustained success.”
Simpson will oversee operations, facilities management along with information technology. He will also be leading strategy and impact work for the nonprofit organization.
“I started my professional career in programming and direct service for nearly 12 years. Almost five years ago, I switched over to the administration and operations side of the house. I believe both of those experiences have helped me build a holistic approach when leading any operations team,” Simpson said.
Prior to joining Camp Fire, Simpson was vice president and chief operating officer at Teach for America in Dallas, where he provided oversight and guidance to the operations subteam, including people and culture, finance and administration, marketing and communications, and strategic initiatives. He previously held positions with HopeWorks, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Arizona, and the Boys and Girls Club of Tucson.
Simpson continued, “I believe those who work with our youth and families do necessary and important work. In my role I get the opportunity to build a strong administrative and operational infrastructure that helps them do that work to the best of their ability, removing as many obstacles as possible.”
David Simpson holds a Master of Arts in Education from the University of Phoenix, a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Technology Management from the University of Arizona, and a Nonprofit Management Certification
from Arizona State University. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Business Administration from Western Governors University, graduating in summer 2024. He is a member of The National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS).
Jen Smith, vice president outdoor connection
Jen Smith was promoted to vice president of outdoor connection in December 2023. She joined Camp Fire First Texas in March 2019 as the Texas Outdoor Education Center outdoor education coordinator and day camp director for Camp El Tesoro, then served as the interim vice president outdoor connection from April to November 2023.
She’ll oversee the strategic direction and implementation of all programs at Camp Fire Camp El Tesoro in Granbury, including overnight and day camps, the El Tesoro de la Vida grief camp, the Texas Outdoor Education Center and rental use of the camp by other organizations and nonprofits.
Smith said, “I am excited about the promotion to vice president of outdoor connection, it presents an opportunity for me to play a more significant role in guiding the outdoor experiences and connections within Camp Fire Camp El Tesoro.” She continued, “I’ll have the chance to help shape the direction of Camp El Tesoro, which will be celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2024, and further enhance its summer camps, day camps, outdoor education, and rental group programs. I am committed to creating a positive, inclusive, and enriching environment that fosters a love for the outdoors among youth and adults.”
She brings over 20 years of experience in outdoor education and summer programming for youth from across the United States, teaching and coordinating environmental education programs at various outdoor centers in Indiana, New York, and California. She has also previously worked with Girl Scout summer camps in Long Island, NY, Statesville, NC, and the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California.
Brian Miller, Camp Fire President/CEO said, “I am thrilled to see Jen permanently stepping into this leadership role. Working with her has been an absolute pleasure, and I have full confidence in her ability to excel in this position. Jen brings a unique blend of talent, dedication, and collaborative spirit to the team. Her promotion is not just a recognition of her past achievements but a testament to the great things she will undoubtedly accomplish in the future.”
Smith shared, “As someone deeply engaged in youth development, leadership, mentoring, and staff dynamics, this role offers me a platform to make a significant impact. My passion for outdoor recreational pursuits like backpacking, hiking with my dogs, and connecting with camp staff aligns perfectly with the outdoor focus of this position. It’s a wonderful opportunity to create meaningful experiences for campers and staff, fostering personal growth and a deeper connection with nature.”
She holds a Master of Science in Recreation from California State University-Sacramento and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology with a minor in Environmental Studies from Goshen College. Jen is a certified Texas Master Naturalist, a certified Professional Environmental Educator through the Kentucky Environmental Education Council, and a facilitator of Project Water Education for Teachers (WET), Project Wild, and is certified in Project Learning Tree.
Smith is a member of the American Camp Association and volunteers at least 40 hours annually with the Texas Master Naturalist Program.
source: press release