Don Smarto



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Don is the author of thirteen published books, many endorsed by prominent authors and leaders including Billy Graham, Charles Colson, Tony Campolo and Joni Erickson Tada. Three of his books were used as university text books. He wrote articles for six national magazines including Christianity Today, Decision, Christian Counseling and Leadership Magazine. Don also wrote major articles for two reference books, Baker’s Encyclopedia of Psychology and the Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions.


Don is President of a national ministry, Youth Direct, which presents programs in juvenile prisons (Since 2001). The organization has training 1100 volunteers and presented programs in 489 facilities in 18 states. Dallas is the headquarters for the ministry.

He is a former Warden of a maximum security juvenile prison and Director of an Adolescent Residential Drug Treatment program featured nationally on NBC News. Don was a Probation Officer and wrote pre-sentence reports for twenty criminal court judges.

Don was the Founding Director of the Institute for Prison Ministries at the Billy Graham Center, in Illinois, from 1984 to 1997. He was Vice President of Good News Ministry in Virginia and President of Champions for Life, in Texas.
Don has been Chairman of the Grand Prairie Library Board since 2008. He also currently serves as Chairman of Operation Starting Line, a consortium of forty-seven national ministry leaders, since 2012. Don also serves as Vice Chairman of his church Leadership Council.


For nine years, Don has been the host of a Dallas ABC Radio talk show Parenting Today’s Youth. Since March 2015, the show has been broadcast nationally. It is currently heard in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, and Alabama with 1.5 million weekly listeners, heard in prime time. His guests have included Charles Colson, Henry Blackaby, Charles Stanley, Joni Erickson Tada, Josh McDowell, Elizabeth Elliot, Roger Staubach, and hundreds of authors.

Don produced over fifty documentary films and two independent features, working with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on the musical soundtrack of A Pale Horse. He has interviewed, on video, President Ronald Reagan, Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger, Attorney General Edwin Meese, and several US senators.


Don taught Sociology courses at Wheaton College (Illinois) for twelve years and Trinity University for four years. He also taught Film History and Photography at College of DuPage and Triton College for six years, and Psychology courses at George Williams College.

His formal education is in Music, Philosophy, and Theology. Don is also certified in Family Systems Counseling and is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselor.

Don taught sixteen Creative Writing Seminars to incarcerated gang members in juvenile facilities in Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Colorado, and Texas from 2005 - 2012.

Currently, he frequently lectures at Dallas Baptist University, Dallas Theological Seminary, and Southwestern Seminary, all in Texas.


Don has been a guest lecturer at over one hundred colleges and universities. He has preached nationwide in over three hundred churches. Don is also a sought after conference and banquet speaker. He has spoken to nearly five hundred civic, school, and church organizations. Don has been a guest on thirty-five television and sixty radio shows.


Don has received over thirty-seven awards including two International Photography Awards, and several Excellence in Media Awards, judged by the Hollywood Press Association and the National Broadcasters Association.

Don received awards from Texas Governor Rick Perry, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and Illinois Governor Jim Edgar. He was also recognized by Attorney General Jim Ryan of Illinois, the Salvation Army, Good News Ministry, and many other organizations.

Don was featured on the front page of a Sunday edition of the Dallas Morning News in October 2010 for his work in advancing literacy with incarcerated teenagers.

In 2014, Don was inducted into the Wall of Fame (A Lifetime Achievement Award) at Leyden High School, where he graduated fifty years earlier.

Don was a Featured Speaker at a White House Conference in 2007.

In 1985, Don was appointed a Delegate to a United Nations Conference in Milan, Italy.

Don is the host of the daily Dallas radio show Parenting Today's Youth with 29,000 listeners each day. For more information go to donsmartpresentation.org or download his articles at www.youthdirect.org.