Kristine A. Smith

Kristine A. “Kris” Smith of Duanesburg, NY and Ocala, FL died on Saturday, September 11th, 2021 following a long illness. She was 69 years old.

The daughter of Dr. Arthur K. Brelia and the late Agnes Brelia, Kris grew up in Gloversville, NY and graduated from Bishop Burke High School where she met and married her high school sweetheart, love of her life, and husband of 52 years, Robert D. Smith, who survives. Kris is also survived by her daughter, Kelly (Michael) Sturman of Oldwick, NJ, as well as five grandchildren—Caleb, Amelia, Samantha, David Yu “YuYu” and Mark Sturman; her sister, Karen (Richard) Corcoran and sister-in-law, Judith Smith (Diran) Zaghigian who were also were close to her heart, along with several nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her brother, Keith A. Brelia.

For Kris, family was everything. That included her rescue dogs and cats, of which she always had a houseful. She loved writing and reading and was known for her quick wit and willingness to find the humor in any situation. She was also eager to learn and accomplish new challenges and set high goals for achievement.

Kris joined the New York State Department of Health in 1994, serving first as press officer and Associate Director of Public Affairs and later as Director of Public Health Risk Communication within the Office of Science where she provided Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) consultation to the department’s health emergency preparedness program. Most recently, she worked for the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC) as credentialing manager and then, Program Director. Kris was an inaugural member of the CDC’s national CERC consultation panel and also served for several years on NPHIC’s Executive Board. A former TV health reporter, producer and assignments director at WTEN, Albany, and later Director of Communications for the American Lung Association of New York State, Kris earned a Master’s degree in public communication from the College of Saint Rose, where she was honored as Outstanding Adult Student and taught numerous undergraduate and graduate level courses. From 2006-2011, Kris served as the moderator of the University at Albany Center for Public Health Preparedness Grand Rounds national satellite broadcast series. She was the recipient of national, state and local professional awards including the first NPHIC Gold award for excellence in risk communication; the national American Women in Radio and Television Recognition Award; the American Lung Association “Nondependence Day” health promotion award; and the New York Women’s Press Association “Woman in the News” award. Kris was among the reviewers for the CDC’s CERC 2012 manual and authored several articles in public health textbooks and journals. She was the first person credentialed by NPHIC as a Certified Communicator in Public Health.

Kris didn’t want her obituary to say that “she flew into the arms of the angels” or use other flowery phrases. She joked that her family should simply write that she died “and wasn’t that happy about it.” Kris could be acerbic but when she said she hoped to “spread joy and sunshine wherever she goes,” that was very much the truth.

A graveside service will be held at St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Johnstown on Saturday, September 18th at 2pm.

For those who wish, memorial contributions my made to Hospice of Marion County, FL, a local animal rescue organization or just to pay it forward to someone in need.

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