Melissa Smith is Director of Operations at Yellowstone Theological Institute in Bozeman. Originally from Texas, she is married to Jay (yes, YTI’s president) and they have two daughters, Catherine and Hannah.
Tell us a little bit about yourself—background, family, hobbies, etc.
I grew up in a suburb of Houston and attended college at Sam Houston State University. Since marrying Jay, life has been a series of surprises. We have lived in four states and I have established a diverse resume from teaching band to managing the front of house for a performing arts venue. Hobbies include music and crafts. I have played French horn most of my life, trumpet occasionally, and crochet and quilt when time allows. Jay and I have two daughters: Catherine is married and works with her husband Johnathan at Wharton Middle School in Texas where he is the band director; she also edits books and hopes to work full time in that field eventually. Hannah is in her second year at Montana State University.
Describe your responsibilities with YTI.
Like many others at YTI, I wear a few hats. The title Director of Operations speaks to overseeing non-academic pursuits like camps, community events, and renting building space to community groups. At this time I also cover finance and HR. The most rewarding aspect has been bringing outside groups into our building as renters where they can see that we aspire to be a community resource. We have welcomed five different dance groups—one on a recurring basis—as well as students from the YMCA and Big Sky Youth Empowerment.
Why do you think a potential student should consider YTI?
YTI’s greatest advantage is an outstanding faculty with the ability to tailor a student’s education in preparation for the ministry God has in store. Of course, spending time in Bozeman is definitely a bonus. Our connections from Washington state to Georgia also allow us to provide a wide range of opportunities for ministry experiences.
How do you see YTI making a difference in the community?
Changing the way people experience God. Sadly, too many people believe what they hear through media instead of talking to Christians.
What do you love about living in the Gallatin Valley?
It is a great size, with lots of variety in activities from arts to adventure. Yet I am constantly amazed at how often I cross paths with the same people. And despite the cold winter, it is stunningly beautiful year-round.