Ryan J. Smith
Vice President, Strategic Advocacy and Executive Director, The Education Trust - West
Prior to joining The Education Trust—West, Ryan was the Director of Education Programs and Policy for the United Way of Greater Los Angeles where he was responsible for the education program and policy efforts for the organization. He also coordinated Communities for Los Angeles Student Success (CLASS), a Los Angeles-based coalition of civil rights, education and community advocacy groups dedicated to closing the opportunity and achievement gaps for students-of-color and students living in poverty.
Prior to his role at the United Way, Ryan worked for former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. In his role as Senior Director of Family and Community Engagement, Ryan led a team that improved parent involvement over 40% and built systems within schools to help support authentic family, school and community partnerships. Ryan founded the Parent College which so far has educated over 5,000 parents across Los Angeles on the “parent three r’s” – their rights, roles and responsibilities.
Prior to joining the Partnership, Ryan was the Director of the Los Angeles Parents Union and managed Public Affairs for Green Dot Public Schools. He has also worked as a youth organizer for Youth United for Community Action’s (YUCA) educational equity campaigns and worked as a volunteer teacher in Mexico City and Cuernavaca, Mexico.
Ryan currently serves as a Annie E. Casey Foundation Children and Family Fellow. He graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from UCLA. He is currently a doctoral candidate in Education at UCLA. Ryan has authored more than a dozen editorials and opinion pieces published in the Los Angeles Times and other publications. And was named by Education Week as one of the “Ten Education Leaders to Watch” nationally. He also received the Families in Schools’ “Parent Engagement Leader of the Year Award”.
“I grew up with a single mother who dedicated everything to ensure that I had access to a quality education. Because of her passion, at the age of fifteen I started community organizing in South LA for educational improvement efforts. I continue to commit to getting results for impoverished communities and communities-of-color by leveraging the intersection between research, advocacy, policy and community engagement.”