Walt Smith grew up on a farm. Holding to family tradition, when he was born, Walt was given a calf to start his herd. By the time he was eight, Walt bottle-fed 17 calves every morning before school and every night before bed. The herd grew to 32 when Walt graduated from high school, and he had become a full partner with his father on another 150 head of cattle.
Walt used the proceeds from the cattle he raised to enroll at Texas A&M University. He didn’t want to take on student loans, so he worked in livestock sale barns, drove a taxi cab, and became an apprentice electrician to cover costs. After graduating with a bachelor’s and master’s degree, Walt set out for Washington with little more than an unbridled work ethic and a dream of making a difference.
He was hired by the House Committee on Agriculture for a job that paid so little he had to work odd jobs to make ends meet. After working all day on Capitol Hill, Walt made copies for the federal courts from 6 p.m. to midnight, shoveled snow and worked on a garbage truck on weekends. Through it all, he earned the trust of everyone who hired him, earning promotions and greater responsibility.
When George W. Bush was elected president, Walt went to work for his administration in the Department of Agriculture, tasked with moving the president’s priorities through congress. On September 11, 2001, Walt was beginning an interview to receive higher security clearance when news broke of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Washington D.C. Along with the cabinet Secretary, Walt and about 20 others were rushed into a secure underground basement where they spent much of the day. For Walt, this experience would crystalize his devotion to serving a cause greater than himself.
In 2007 and recently married, Walt felt called to begin a consulting practice to help non-profits and job creators cut through the red tape of Washington, solve problems, and improve people’s lives. He returned home to Texas to grow his business and raise a family. His first daughter was born in 2008 and two more soon followed.
As founder and president of The Mallard Group, Walt uses his skills, experience, and work ethic to develop non-profit associations and give a voice to those whose voices are seldom heard in government. His signature projects include preserving the hunting and fishing heritage in Texas, protecting local water supplies and improving rural water systems, and advancing food and agricultural research. He also works to promote Texas job growth and support recovery efforts for victims of child sex trafficking.
In addition, Walt serves as Chief Executive Officer for the National Association of Agriculture and Food Policy, Chief Financial Officer for the National Association for the Advancement of Animal Sciences, and previously oversaw strategic outreach for the National Rural Water Association.
Walt served as Treasurer for Texans United for Hunting and Fishing Rights, which he organized to pass Proposition 6 in 2015, which amended the Texas Constitution to protect the right to hunt and fish in Texas, as well as the private property rights of landowners. He served as a convention delegate for the Hays County Republican Party and has attended every Republican National Convention since 1996. Walt worked in both a volunteer and paid capacity for Republican campaigns for president, most recently hosting the Dallas Safari Club Breakfast honoring President Donald Trump.
Active in the community, Walt and his family attend Life Austin Church and are part of the Launch Team for the church’s future Dripping Springs location. Walt’s local involvement includes the Dripping Springs Education Foundation Board of Directors, Leadership Dripping Springs Steering Committee, Dripping Springs Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee, Christmas on Mercer Fundraising Chairman, and Dripping Springs Wild Game Charitable Dinner Executive Committee. Walt was honored as the 2017 “Lion of the Year” by the Dripping Springs Lions Club, and has volunteered at Walnut Springs Elementary School, and with the Dripping Springs Youth Sports Association.