Former Senator, Hospital Exec Among Four New Hires at Concordance Academy of Leadership

ST. LOUIS – Danny Ludeman, CEO and President of Concordance Academy of Leadership, announced the addition of two senior level executives, naming Jeff Smith as EVP, Head of Community Engagement & Policy, and Mary Beth Bulte as EVP, Head of Comprehensive Care. Additionally, Ben Hanna joins the Academy as Onboarding Specialist, and Monica Horton will serve as Services & Counseling Coordinator. Bulte, Hanna and Horton have already joined the organization, while Smith is slated to start in June. All four hires will fill critical roles for the organization, which focuses on assisting individuals as they re-enter society from prison.

Dr. Smith (see Photo 1) comes to the Academy with a robust record of educational and public service achievements. A St. Louis native, Smith who graduated Phi Beta Kappa from University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, received master’s and doctorate degrees in political science from Washington University, where he later taught. He also has taught at Dartmouth College and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. After narrowly losing a 2004 U.S. Congressional bid, Smith was elected to the Missouri Senate in 2006, where he sponsored sentencing reform legislation that was signed into law in 2009. Smith spent 2010 in federal prison after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice stemming from an FEC investigation related to his 2004 race. Smith wrote about his experience as part of a broader call for systemic reform in Mr. Smith Goes to Prison: What My Year Behind Bars Taught Me About America’s Prison Crisis, which C-Span named one of 2015’s top books. Most recently, Smith has served as assistant professor in the urban policy graduate program at The New School in New York City.

Smith will spearhead the creation of an extensive national volunteer network for the Academy, enlisting thousands of volunteers in the organization’s initial years. He also will lead community engagement efforts, pushing stakeholders and lawmakers for smart policy changes that benefit both justice-involved adults and the communities to which they return.

“This opportunity hits at the very heart of why Concordance Academy exists – creating second chances that are real and tangible,” Smith said. “I made a big mistake that led to my incarceration, and remain grateful to The New School for hiring me after prison. Now, I am proud to join an organization committed to helping others get the type of second chance I received – the opportunity to own their past and redefine their future. I’m excited to offer this perspective as I work to engage the larger community in this endeavor.”

Bulte (see Photo 2) brings more than 30 years of behavioral health experience to the Academy, where she will focus on delivery of services. She most recently served as Executive Director for Behavioral Health at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, providing management of behavioral health services for patients with psychiatric illness and substance abuse disorders. Bulte managed a team of 25 specialists, a network of over 2,000 licensed specialists and, under her leadership, Mercy managed services for more than 400,000 people. She also worked closely with research-based organizations to refine programs to improve outcome quality. Bulte has a master’s degree in social work from Washington University’s Brown School and a master’s in business administration from Maryville University.

“Mary Beth has served effectively in a practitioner role, and she has a track record of excellence in care management models, with a proven ability to implement them at scale,” Ludeman said. “Her leadership skills and compassion will drive the Academy forward, helping us build a solid infrastructure for service delivery.”

Hanna (see Photo 3) has spent nearly 10 years working with justice-involved adults, primarily in legal defense settings.  The majority of that time was spent with The Bronx Defenders, a nationally recognized holistic public defense office in New York. He has co-taught on criminal justice issues at Columbia University School of Social Work, in addition to facilitating advocacy training at New York University School of Law. He has a master’s in social work from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in mass communication and media arts from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale. In his role at the Academy, Hanna will assist with staff hiring and training; pre- to post-release service design and practice approaches; and developing education and employment models.

“Ben brings direct practical experience with an organization that, like Concordance, believes in a holistic approach to addressing these problems,” Ludeman said.

As a Services & Counseling Coordinator, Horton (see Photo 4) will be responsible for delivering evidence-based interventions to participants before they are released from prison. Over the last 25 years, she has worked in case management, clinical coordination, counseling and behavioral health roles, specifically serving patients struggling with substance abuse disorders. Horton received her master’s degree in professional counseling from Lindenwood University and a bachelor’s degree in social work from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale.

“Monica’s significant experience in developing treatment and aftercare plans for patients will be critical to the success of Academy participants as they prepare for their transition back to their communities,” Ludeman said. “All four of these new hires are valuable additions to our core team.”



Concordance Academy is a St. Louis-based nonprofit that offers the country’s first set of integrated, holistic and evidence-driven services to individuals returning to society from prison. Led by President and CEO Danny Ludeman, the organization assists participants in three primary areas: behavioral health and wellness; education and employment; and community and life skills. The Academy starts working with individuals six months prior to release and continues assisting for up to a year after their return to the community. The organization is committed to restoring individuals, rebuilding families, transforming communities and advancing the field of re-entry services. For more info, visit

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