Strada collaborates with students, policymakers, educators, and employers across the U.S. to strengthen the link between education and opportunity.
We prioritize policies, practices, and programs that help ensure postsecondary education provides equitable pathways to opportunity.
We advance our mission through research, grantmaking, social impact investments, public policy solutions, Strada-supported nonprofit organizations, and strategic initiatives.
Kathleen Smith brings an extensive background in leadership and policy experience, having most recently served as senior vice president, director of federal relations, outreach and development for the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency. During her tenure at PHEAA, Smith cultivated relationships with members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation and relevant congressional committees, shaped advocacy strategies related to state and federal legislation, and managed institutional outreach efforts. Smith’s leadership also extended to collaborating with federal agencies that impacted higher education programs.
Prior to joining PHEAA, Smith held several positions in the U.S. Department of Education, including as deputy chief operating officer of Federal Student Aid, and before that as special assistant to the secretary and acting assistant secretary for the Office of Postsecondary Education. In those positions, she played a central role in ensuring student aid was delivered to students and that it complied with federal rules and regulations, preventing program fraud, advising the secretary and senior staff on education issues, and representing the agency to Congress and other federal agencies.
Smith also has served as education policy advisor for the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, for which she contributed to legislation development and provided expertise on higher education matters. She also has served in leadership roles for the Education Finance Council and the U.S. House of Representatives.
Smith earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from D’Youville College, a master’s in public administration from the University of New Haven, and a master’s in communications: journalism and public affairs from American University.