For-profit Work Paved Way for Peter Smyth to Lead a Nonprofit
Peter Smyth Journey
Peter Smyth: Surround yourself with talented, amazing people who lead with compassion.

When he ran a commercial media company, Peter Smyth always emphasized community involvement and philanthropy, which proved to be the right background for leading The Hundred Club, a Braintree-based nonprofit that provides philanthropic support to families of firefighters and police officers killed in the line of duty.

This is his story.

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by radio. For me, radio was a way to transport myself from my home to places I had never been – from the Grand Ole Opry and Wrigley Field to overseas with nail-biting news reports.

That fascination with radio turned into a decades-long career in the business, wherein I served as chairman and CEO of Greater Media. Amid the hustle and bustle of that work, it was always important to me that our team give back to the community. That took shape with days dedicated to volunteerism, grants, scholarships, and involvement in the markets we served.

While the cornerstone of helping others was always a part of my life, my path to nonprofit leadership was paved by Norman Knight, a founding member of The Hundred Club of Massachusetts. Throughout my career, I was beyond fortunate to have Norman as a mentor who provided unconditional support and guidance, and I sought his counsel on many decisions both regarding business and personal matters.

I feel strongly that finding an individual or group of individuals to fill your “personal board” is instrumental to success. These individuals have your best interests at heart and are not afraid to offer praise or criticism when warranted. Norman was that for me.

Norman, who co-founded the Club in 1959 with a vision of creating an organization that would support the families of firefighters and police officers killed in the line of duty, introduced me to his organization. I was immediately touched by the mission of the Club and the families they supported both financially and emotionally. My involvement began with that introduction more than 15 years ago, and I went on to serve on the Club's board and several committees.

When the opportunity arose to lead the Club, I was honored to bring the Club Norman started over 60 years ago to its next phase as an organization with an even stronger social impact, with a focus on innovation, results, and growth both internally and externally.

I am continually humbled by the breadth and depth of the Club's impact on the beneficiary families we serve. We serve those who serve us. The Club's relationship with the families it serves doesn’t end when spouses and families are given support – it merely begins there. We’re not here to win medals and prizes, we're here to make an impact in people’s lives – for the rest of their lives.

During my career in the broadcasting industry, I learned that the most important asset anyone can have is the people you bring to the table with you. No matter the type of organization you lead, this approach is critical – and I am lucky to be surrounded by fantastic people at the Club.

Good leadership is inspiring others by seeing, appreciating, and maximizing the talents you see in them. A great leader is basically like a great coach: they get the best that can be gotten from every person in their charge. Surround yourself with talented, amazing people who lead with compassion and recognize that talent.

This approach extends beyond individual colleagues to partner organizations. Fantastic partners can be difference-makers in for-profit business and philanthropic organizations alike. For example, last year we announced an affiliation with Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Program, providing Home Base services at no cost to current police officers and firefighters who are veterans, and to the families of The Hundred Club whose fallen heroes were military veterans.

One major lesson I learned in my broadcasting career that I apply now is just how important your supporters are when running any type of organization. At Greater Media, our philanthropic efforts were very important and now, at The Hundred Club, we must continue to raise enough money to meet the needs of the people we serve.

As a leader, I have come to accept that running an organization is tricky, formidable, and unpredictable. An inevitable and proverbial storm is always on the horizon, and your leadership must overcome whatever that storm brings.

Innovation at the Club means relying more on social media than ever before and engaging the business community to meet the Club's financial goals. I want to make sure the Club reflects the needs of today's constituency, and that we have strong, meaningful relationships with the men and women of the organization.

April 2022

Learn more about The Hundred Club