Kim Smith is the founder and former CEO of the Pahara Institute, a national nonprofit that aims to identify, strengthen, and sustain diverse high-potential leaders who are transforming public education. Its programs, including the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship (previously the Aspen-NewSchools Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Fellowship), are designed to identify seasoned leaders in education reform, and through a time-tested dialogue approach, strengthen, and sustain their efforts to bring about transformational improvements in our public schools – especially those in under-served communities. She is widely recognized as an innovative and entrepreneurial leader in education, and was featured in Newsweek’s report on the “Women of the 21st Century” as “the kind of woman who will shape America’s new century.”
Immediately prior to the Pahara Institute, Kim was co-founder of Bellwether Education Partners, a non-profit organization working to improve educational outcomes for low-income students. After completing her M.B.A. at Stanford University, she co-founded and led NewSchools Venture Fund, a philanthropy focused on transforming public education through social entrepreneurship, where she helped to catalyze a new, bipartisan, cross-sector community of entrepreneurial change agents for public education. Earlier in her career she served as a founding team member at Teach For America, created and led an AmeriCorps program for community-based leaders in education, managed a business start-up and completed a brief stint in early online learning at Silicon Graphics.
Ms. Smith has helped to incubate numerous education and social change organizations and has served on a range of boards, including those of Pahara, Bellwether Education Partners, NewSchools Venture Fund, Rocketship Education, and ROADS Charter School. She has authored or co-authored a number of publications about innovation and social entrepreneurial change in education, including “What Is Educational Entrepreneurship?”, “Social Purpose Capital Markets in K–12”, “Creating Responsive Supply in Education”, “Innovation in Education: Problems and Opportunities”, “Supporting and Scaling Change: Lessons from the First Round of the Investing in Innovation (i3) Program”, and “Steering Capital: Optimizing Financial Support for Innovation in Public Education.” She is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.