Leadership & Staff

Philippa Smithey

National Director, CDF Freedom Schools


    Dr. Philippa N. Smithey, a resident of Gaithersburg, is a graduate of Howard University (B.A. and M.A.) and American University (Ph.D.) with a forty-year history of work in the United States and overseas that reflects her lifelong commitment to education, political participation, and social justice.

    Dr. Smithey joined the Children’s Defense Fund in December 2015 as Senior Education Grants Specialist. In that capacity, Dr. Smithey identified and secured public funding to support CDF programs, monitored grant-funded programs, and assisted in various research and writing assignments associated with CDF Freedom Schools®.

    Dr. Smithey retired from the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) in 2016, after 12 years of service as its grants specialist. In addition to MCPS, Dr. Smithey has worked for the District of Columbia Public Schools and the Alexandria City Public Schools and in similar positions with the DC Housing Authority and the NOAH Group, LLC.  In each of these positions, Dr. Smithey designed and developed support for programs to aid needy children and families living in low-income urban areas and public housing communities.

    Dr. Smithey’s work history includes seven years of full-time and adjunct teaching at several universities—Howard University, American University, Tuskegee University, and Southeastern University.  The courses that Dr. Smithey taught were in the areas of Public Budgeting and Finance, Public Personnel Management, Public Administration, Intergovernmental Relations, Urban Politics, Community Development, American Government, Comparative Politics, and International Affairs.  Dr. Smithey also lived and worked in Africa and Central America as a U.S. diplomat and as the administrative manager of a World Bank-funded construction project in Nigeria.

    Dr. Smithey has been a staunch supporter of grassroots efforts to close the minority achievement gap and increase college access by minority youth, especially those who are the first in their families to attend college. Her interests in this issue have been expressed through hours of volunteer work in the District of Columbia, Belize, and Montgomery County, Maryland, assisting students with college entry and securing financial aid.