CEO & President

Dr. Louis A. Finney: Advocate for Early Childhood Education and Nonprofit Leadership Dr. Louis A. Finney, a passionate advocate for early childhood education and an accomplished nonprofit leader, boasts a distinguished career spanning over 25 years. As the President and CEO of Smart Start for Forsyth County, he has garnered accolades, including the 2022 Non-Profit CEO of the Year in the Triad Area of North Carolina, a 2023 Leadership Winston-Salem Graduate, 2024 NIKE Go Executive Training Recipient and the recipient of the 2023 Maria Otto National Award of Excellence for Family Childcare Services advocacy. Throughout his career, Dr. Finney has been instrumental in advancing Early Care and Education.


Notably, he established three Early Head Start Delegate and Grantee Family Childcare Educator Programs in Tampa Bay, Florida, leading the largest Early Head Start Family Childcare Educator network in the state with $16 million in federal funding. His commitment to securing over $250 million in funding for early childhood initiatives demonstrates his dedication to the cause.


Dr. Finney’s expertise extends to advisory and leadership roles at the national and state levels. His notable positions include Immediate Past President of the National Association for Family Childcare, Treasurer of the National Head Start Association, and service on the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s Power to the Profession Taskforce. He is actively involved in organizations such as the National Family Childcare Advisory Board, NC Partnership for Children Board Development Committee, NC Family Childcare Advisory Board, and the Aspen Institute’s Early Years Climate Action Commission.


With a background that includes military service as a U.S. Army Veteran and combat and humanitarian missions in Iraq, Kuwait, and Haiti, Dr. Finney brings a sense of duty and resilience to his nonprofit leadership roles. Dr. Finney holds a doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Liberty University, a Master’s degree in public administration from Wilmington University, and a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. His commitment to staying at the forefront of critical issues is evident in his research project, “The Necessity of Early Childhood Leaders to Adapt their leadership style to a COVID-19 Workplace.”


Beyond his professional pursuits, Dr. Finney is an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, serving as the immediate past President. His interests include cooking, fitness, and bicycling. In summary, Dr. Finney’s life and career embody unwavering dedication to early childhood education and the well-being of children and families. His achievements, leadership, and advocacy have left an enduring impact, serving as an inspiration for future generations in the field of education and nonprofit leadership.