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Mayor Gray Names Experienced District Education Reformer Abigail Smith Deputy Mayor for Education

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mayor Gray Names Experienced District Education Reformer Abigail Smith Deputy Mayor for Education

Former DCPS, DME and Teach for America administrator began career as first-grade teacher

Mayor Vincent C. Gray today tapped experienced education reformer Abigail Smith to be the District’s new Deputy Mayor for Education. She will replace De’Shawn Wright, who left last year to head the State of New York’s education efforts.

“Abigail has devoted her entire career to working with families, teachers and schools to deliver on the promise of a great public education for all children, and she has extensive experience working in education reform nationally and in the District,” Mayor Gray said. “She’s extremely well qualified to steer my administration’s efforts to ensure that every child in the District has access to a top-quality education.”

Smith has been an education consultant since 2012. Previously, she was the Chief of Transformation Management for the DC Public Schools (DCPS). She has also served previously as a Special Assistant in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education and in several positions with Teach For America, including as the organization’s Vice President for Research and Public Policy and as the Teach For America Executive Director for the District. She began her education career as a first-grade teacher in Weldon, N.C.

A Ward 1 resident for the last 13 years, Smith received her bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a master’s degree in education from Harvard University. She also currently serves as Board Chair for E.L. Haynes Public Charter School, though will step down from that position to assume her new role. She will begin work April 10th.

“I’ve spent enough time in District schools to see the best of the District’s public education in both DCPS and public charter schools, and to know that there’s an urgent need to do more as quickly as we can,” said Smith. “I look forward to working with Mayor Gray, the Council and the city’s other education leaders—and, most importantly, families and students—to give every public-school student in the District the chance they deserve to reach their potential.”

Smith will take over duties from Jennifer Leonard, the Chief of Staff in the Deputy Mayor for Education’s office, who has been serving as Interim Deputy Mayor for Education since Wright’s departure. 

“I’m grateful that Jennifer has been able to bring her considerable experience in the Deputy Mayor for Education’s office to bear and has provided consistent and excellent leadership during this interim period,” Mayor Gray said. “I want to express my thanks to her and to her staff for their hard work during the months since Deputy Mayor Wright’s departure.”

Leonard said, “I am happy to have provided continuity in leadership during this transition period, and I wish Abby all the best.”