With 37 years of experience to her credit, Heather Smith Kleiner is a coveted figure in the fields of education and academic administration. During her graduate studies in teaching at Lynchburg College (now known as the University of Lynchburg) in the 1960s, the civil rights movement had just begun. When she moved to Georgia soon thereafter, she got involved in the local interracial protests in favor of integrating schools. After consulting with the school boards, Ms. Kleiner became passionate about women’s rights and joined the League of Women Voters, where she advocated for justice for women and the disadvantaged. Co-founding the Jeannette Rankin Foundation in 1976, she served the organization as first president for the following year. The Jeanette Rankin Foundation is a national organization that provides scholarships and support for low-income women aged 35 and older across the United States.
Ms. Kleiner joined the faculty of the University of Georgia in Athens in 1982 as an academic advisor, a position she held for six years. Promoted soon thereafter to the assistant director of the women’s studies program in 1988, she was again promoted to associate director in 1990, holding the role until her retirement from administration in 2000. During her tenure in academia, she also maintained affiliation with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens, where she was on the board of directors and served as honorary director, chair of the Capital Fund Drive, trustee and partner of the church committee.
Citing the highlight of her career to be working with college students, Ms. Kleiner was actively involved in the women’s studies program and enjoyed promoting the rights of women, while also serving the University of Georgia in administrative positions. Notably, the Institute for Women’s Studies named a library room in her honor in 2016, having that same year received the Stewardship Award for years of service from the Unitarian Universal Church.
Married to Scott Alter Kleiner since 1961, Ms. Kleiner is the proud mother of two daughters, Greta and Catherine. Born in New York in 1940 to parents Henry Lee Smith and Marie Edwards, she currently resides in Watkinsville, Georgia. In her spare time, she
enjoys reading and swimming.
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