Press Release

WASHINGTON (October 28, 2014) — The Education Trust is pleased to welcome Ryan Smith as Executive Director of The Education Trust-West. In this position, Ryan will lead an ambitious effort to close opportunity and achievement gaps for students who have been traditionally underserved in California’s public education system. His background as a community organizer, education advocate, and champion for equity makes him an outstanding leader for the Education Trust-West team.

A Los Angeles native, Ryan comes to Ed Trust-West with a deep history of advocating for underserved youth. Most recently, he worked at the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, where he led efforts to strengthen equity-based programs and policies, funded educational programs, helped empower parents, and drove a coalition of parents and local leaders to fight for education improvement in the nation’s second largest school district. Ryan also spearheaded Communities for Los Angeles Student Success, or C.L.A.S.S., which brought together more than 50 civil rights, education, and advocacy groups to help ensure the city’s students receive a quality education.

Previously, Ryan worked in former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office, where he served as senior director of family and community engagement. In this role, he led a team responsible for all parent, student, and community engagement programs within a network of 22 schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Under his leadership, the network of schools experienced an increase in parental involvement of more than 40 percent. He also constructed systems within schools to foster authentic family, school, and community partnerships. Additionally, he founded the award-winning Parent College, which taught more than 3,000 parents key strategies to better support and advocate for their children. Ryan has authored more than a dozen editorials and opinion pieces published in the Los Angeles Times and other publications. Ryan began his career as a youth organizer in South Los Angeles with the California-based group Youth United for Community Action.

“All California students deserve access to a quality education,” said Kati Haycock, president of The Education Trust. “Ryan’s experience in and dedication to improving opportunities for underserved students will be invaluable as we work alongside policymakers, advocates, community members, and educators toward that shared goal.”

Ryan completed his undergraduate studies in political science at the University of California, Los Angeles and is currently working toward his doctorate in education there as well. He is an Annie E. Casey Foundation Children and Family Fellow and was named by Education Week as one of the “Ten Young Education Leaders to Watch” nationally. He also received the Families in Schools’ Parent Engagement Leader of the Year Award.

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