Ralph Smith Managing Director
With the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, Ralph Smith pursues a mission that has been a personal passion throughout his many-faceted career: improving academic outcomes, and with them the life chances, of children from low-income homes.
Senior Vice President of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Ralph has served on the senior leadership team of the Foundation since 1994. He led the design, development, and management of the Foundation’s Making Connections initiative, a comprehensive effort to help communities improve outcomes for children by strengthening families and neighborhoods.
A member of the Law Faculty at the University of Pennsylvania for two decades, Ralph is a nationally recognized legal scholar and attorney with expertise in corporate and securities law as well as education law and policy. He also served as Chief of Staff and Chief Operating Officer for the School District of Philadelphia, and as a senior advisor to former Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode on children and family policy. As the founding director of both the National Center on Fathers and Families and the Philadelphia Children’s Network, Ralph helped launch and lead what is now known as the Responsible Fatherhood movement.
Ralph is a nationally recognized leader in U.S. philanthropy. He served on the Board of Directors of the Council on Foundations from 2000 to 2010 and as conference chair (2007), vice-chair (2007–2008), and then Board Chair (2008–2010). He also has served on the boards of the Foundation Center, Wells Fargo Regional Foundation, Venture Philanthropy Partners, the Clinton Center on Community Philanthropy, and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform.
Over the past decade, Ralph has emerged as a leading advocate of philanthropy’s need for a “sector agnostic” approach to build a “common sense consensus” around “high tech and high touch” solutions to “the challenges of our time”: ending intergenerational poverty; protecting the environment; responding to disasters, natural and man-made; promoting public health. This impulse toward cross-sector collaboration is a distinguishing feature of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
In 2010, Ralph received the Jane Addams Distinguished Leadership Award from the United Neighborhood Centers of America in recognition of his lifelong work to improve quality of life for low-income individuals and families through more effective social policy and practice.
Role in the Campaign: Ralph Smith is the Managing Director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.