Smith is the retired executive director of the Samantha Smith Center. Named in memory of her daughter, the Maine center was founded in 1985 to foster better relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. In 1982 Samantha Smith had written a letter to Yuri Andropov, the president of the Soviet Union, about her concerns over the USSR and the United States starting a nuclear war. Andropov wrote back, inviting Samantha and her family to visit the Soviet Union. Samantha became an international celebrity and a worldwide representative for peace. She wrote a book about her experience, Journey to the Soviet Union. Samantha and her father were killed in an August 1985 plane crash. The Soviet government issued a stamp in her honor and named a diamond, a flower, a mountain, and a planet after her. For 10 years, the Samantha Smith Foundation sponsored a student exchange program between the two super powers. She is a recipient of the Hollins Distinguished Alumnae Award.