KCCI Chief Photographer Donna Smith celebrated 38 years with KCCI in September of 2021. Not only was Donna a great photojournalist and Chief Photographer at KCCI, but she also lived out her purpose every day of her entire career. She has told many people that she knew in grade school she wanted to be a photographer. A great uncle gave her his old still camera and it lit the fire that’s been burning ever since.

Donna decided that after carrying around gear for the better part of four decades, it was time to put it down and to pick up something more relaxing. Donna retired at the end of 2021. Donna joined KCCI after working as a temporary photographer for the competing ABC affiliate station in Des Moines in 1983. In 1987 she was promoted to Chief.

In her time at KCCI she contributed her heart and soul into making the station, Iowa’s News Leader. And while giving her all, she gave Central Iowans some compelling visual stories. She covered and met every President. She traveled to Sydney with the Hearst team that covered the 2000 Olympics as the technical lead. She was gone for a month doing this gig and worked from 5 a.m. to midnight many or all days. Donna covered floods, and fires, presidents and mayors and regular Iowans in her 38 years. Always with the attitude and fire that was in that little girl who was given her first camera.

It’s not an over-statement to say that Donna was one of the rocks in the KCCI news department. Being a Chief Photographer is a tough gig. In addition to having to be a highly skilled photojournalist, you also manage the fleet of news cars and all the gear. Donna was a champion for her team, ensuring the KCCI photojournalists had an advocate to get them the best tools possible to do their jobs.