(Media release from the William S. Davies Homeless Shelters):

In a Friday letter to the board of directors, Devon Smyth announced she would be stepping down as executive director of the William S. Davies Homeless Shelters to pursue a new position with Extra Special People (ESP). Devon has served as executive director of the Davies Shelters since January 2017, overseeing the opening of two new shelters and creation of the nonprofit’s food and mental health programs.

“In my tenure as executive director, I have been privileged to see the program grow in ways I could not have dreamt when I began in 2017,” Smyth said. She was the nonprofit’s sole employee when she was hired in 2017 to open the newly-built men’s shelter on East 18th Street. Under Smyth’s leadership, the organization has opened a women’s shelter, launched a food program and counseling program, and expanded to 15 employees with a budget that has grown over five-fold in six years. Smyth has also been a major presence in the community, putting the Davies Shelters front and center through her leadership at community events, volunteer opportunities, and other service to the community such as the Homelessness Task Force and Hope Alliance. “Devon leads with tremendous grace and compassion, and the Davies Shelter has thrived and grown so much under her leadership,” said Board Chair Julie Smith. She added, “While the board is clearly sad to see her time with us come to an end, we know she has helped prepare the Davies Shelter for future success and will continue to do amazing work for this community in her new role.”

Smyth will join ESP as the Rome leadership annual gift officer at the end of August. Based out of Athens, ESP provides transformative experiences for people with disabilities and is best known locally for their Java Joy program. The board of directors will be forming a search committee to begin the search for Smyth’s replacement in the coming month. The Davies Shelter’s director of operations, Brian Harris, and director of development, Bobby Jones, will be handling day-to-day operations of the organization until a permanent replacement is hired.

“I am so thankful to the staff, board members, volunteers, donors, and community partners I have had the opportunity to work alongside during my time at the Davies Shelters,” said Smyth, adding, “My hope and prayer for the Davies Shelters is that it will continue serving alongside the most vulnerable in our community, truly modeling what it means to be a good neighbor.”

Began in 2003, the William S. Davies Homeless Shelters provides shelter and compassionate care to those experiencing homelessness in Rome. To learn more or make a donation, visit or call 706-512-1152.