Highsmith headed the initiative to establish the Connecticut Center for Arts & Technology, the fifth replication center of McArthur Genius Award winner Bill Strickland’s model for adult training and after-school student arts programming. He is now the chairman of the Board at ConnCAT.
Highsmith was founder, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The Specialized Packaging Group, Inc., from 1983 until 2009. Highly regarded for its innovation and reputation for operational excellence, SPG designed and manufactured paperboard and paperboard/plastic composite packaging for some of the world’s most recognizable consumer brands.
SPG grew to become the largest minority-owned — and seventh largest overall — manufacturer of paperboard packaging in North America before it merged with PaperWorks Industries in 2009. Highsmith served as Vice Chairman of the merged company until his retirement in April 2010.
Well known for his community involvement in New Haven, he serves on the Board of Directors for Yale New Haven Hospital, Quinnipiac University and several other companies and organizations.
In 2012 he donated $1 million to accelerate the Quinnipiac University School of Business’ innovations in entrepreneurship. The University matched the gift and has established the Carlton Highsmith Chair in Entrepreneurship.
Highsmith is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin.