DON SMARTO

AUTHOR


Don is the author of fifteen 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 textbooks. 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 currently writing a two-volume book on crime and evil.


LEADER


Don is President of a national ministry, Youth Direct, which presents evangelistic programs in juvenile prisons (Since 2001). The organization has training 1100 volunteers and presented programs in 820 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 in 1981. Don was a Probation Officer and wrote pre-sentence reports for twenty criminal court judges from 1978 – 1984.


Don was Chairman of the Grand Prairie Library Board for ten years. He was recognized twice for his service by the Grand Prairie City Council


MINISTRY


In 2002, Don became Chairman of the Juvenile Justice Network of Texas, providing resources to fifty Texas evangelistic ministries until 2007.


Don was Chairman of Operation Starting Line, a consortium of forty-seven national ministry leaders, from 2012 to 2016, working closely with Charles Colson (Nixon White House Lawyer).


Don served as Vice Chairman of his church (The Oaks Baptist – Grand Prairie) Leadership Council for three years.


Don was the Founding Director of the Institute for Prison Ministries at the Billy Graham Center, in Illinois, from 1982 to 1997. He was subsequently Vice President of Good News Ministry in Virginia 1997 - 1999 and President of Champions for Life 1999 - 2001, in Texas.


Don shared the gospel with 6,000 prisoners in Moscow after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992. He travelled with Billy Graham for 12 years to 15 American cities, Puerto Rico, Amsterdam and Moscow.


As an evangelist, Don has preached and visited in over 1100 American prisons and prisons in 16 countries.


MEDIA


For nine years, Don was the host of a Dallas ABC Radio talk show Parenting Today’s Youth. From March 2015 to December 2017, the show was broadcast nationally, heard in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, California, Georgia, Kentucky and Alabama with 3 million weekly listeners, heard in prime time. Currently he is heard on KDKR FM Dallas / Fort Worth. 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 film, President Ronald Reagan, Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger, Attorney General Edwin Meese, and several US senators.


His documentary film Forgiven (1993), was the last interview with California serial killer Ed Kemper.


His current documentary film, A Faith Journey, had capacity crowds in two Dallas theaters January – March 2020.


EDUCATOR


Don taught Sociology courses at Wheaton College (Illinois) for thirteen years and Trinity University for four years (Criminal Justice & Juvenile Delinquency). 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 Counselors.


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 lectures at Dallas Baptist University, Dallas Theological Seminary, and Southwestern Seminary in Texas.


SPEAKER


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


HONORS & AWARDS


Don has received over thirty-seven awards including three International Photography Awards, and several Excellence in Media Awards, judged by the Hollywood Press Association and the National Broadcasters Association. His photography has been displayed in art museums in Spain and Germany.


Don received awards from three state governors, Texas Governor Rick Perry (Juvenile Justice Ministry of the Year – 2005), Florida Governor Jeb Bush (Mentoring Juvenile Offenders), and Illinois Governor Jim Edgar (Blue Ribbon Committee on Gang Violence). 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. His book Heart of the Young Gladiator documented his creative writing seminars in twenty juvenile facilities in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Texas.


In 2014, Don was inducted into the Wall of Fame (A Lifetime Achievement Award) at Leyden High School (Chicago Area) where he graduated fifty years earlier.
Don was a Featured Speaker at a White House Conference in 2007 (Aftercare of Juvenile Offenders).


In 1985, Don was appointed a Delegate to a United Nations Conference (Treatment of Offenders) in Milan, Italy.

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