Deirdre Lynch Smith brings more than 20 years of experience in the Education and Child Advocacy sectors to her role as Organizational Ombuds. Previously, Deirdre served as Education Program Manager with the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) for the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program, the largest federally funded initiative for out-of-school time programming that serves more than 30,000 students annually throughout Georgia. Deirdre’s extensive work in education also included her role as a consultant with the GaDOE Federal Programs Division where she advocated on behalf of students and families experiencing homelessness. She also gained a wealth of federal policy and legal advocacy experience through her work as a Legal Fellow with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and with the Office of the Secretary of Education where she worked as part of a policy development team for Race to the Top, a $4.35 billion discretionary grant initiative.
Deirdre began her career as a Middle Grades Educator and later managed the Fulton County Court Appointed Special Advocates Program in Atlanta, a nonprofit that champions advocacy on behalf of children and youth in foster care. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Deirdre earned a Juris Doctor from the Indiana University- Bloomington Maurer School of Law and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
As a champion for student success, Deirdre is driven by the desire to remove barriers and enhance advocacy for families who need assistance in navigating the complexities of the Education landscape. She believes that critical conversations and strategy development centered in equity serve as the foundation for identifying and meeting the unique support needs of students and families. Equity should be at the core of every discussion surrounding student outcomes, educational services, family engagement, and policy development.
Deirdre was drawn to Atlanta Public Schools because the Center for Equity and Social Justice (CESJ) team is charting the valuable course of bringing equity conversations and strategy to the forefront of the work being accomplished by the district. The CESJ will be a game-changing initiative not only for schools, students, education professionals, and families served by the district, but also for students, families, and communities throughout Georgia. Deirdre is thrilled to be joining a dynamic team of leaders who are dedicated to shaping policy, engaging stakeholders, and supporting student success through a focus on equity.