Dr. Ryan J. Smith


Dr. Ryan J. Smith serves as the President and CEO of the Saint Joseph Center in Los Angeles, CA. For almost fifty years, St. Joseph Center has been at the forefront of supporting working poor families, as well as unhoused men, women and youth across Los Angeles County.  One of LA County’s largest service providers, St. Joseph Center’s mission is to provide working class families, as well as homeless men, women, and children of all ages with the inner resources and tools to become productive, stable and self-supporting members of the community.

Prior to joining St. Joseph Center, he served as the Chief Strategy Officer for Community Coalition—an organization founded by Mayor Karen Bass with the mission of transforming the social and economic conditions of residents in South Los Angeles and beyond. In this capacity, Dr. Smith spearheaded the organization’s strategy and power-building efforts. Notably, he managed the successful Make LA Whole anti-poverty campaign, securing over $200 million in city funds for high-need communities. Additionally, he acted as the executive lead for Community Coalition’s South Central Youth Empowered Through Action (SCYEA) program.

Before his tenure at Community Coalition, Dr. Smith served as Interim CEO and Chief External Officer for LA Unified’s Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, an organization supporting 15,000 students and their families in Watts, Boyle Heights, and South LA. In this role, Dr. Smith provided instrumental support in the development, communications, policy and advocacy, and family and community engagement programs. Notably, he founded the award-winning Parent College program, benefiting over 10,000 youth and families in marginalized communities by empowering them with knowledge of their rights, roles, and responsibilities. Before to these roles, Dr. Smith served as the Executive Director of The Education Trust-West and Vice President of Strategic Advocacy for the Education Trust, a national education civil rights organization committed to closing opportunity gaps. During his tenure, he pioneered a community program providing financial and other resources to support community-driven advocacy efforts.

Dr. Smith holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Doctorate of Education from UCLA. He is a recipient of the National Annie E. Casey Children and Family Fellowship and the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs. A native Angeleno, Dr. Smith is the founder of the Love Letter LA Project, dedicated to uplifting and embracing the assets of marginalized communities across Los Angeles. His commitment to civic engagement is underscored by his recent receipt of UCLA’s first-ever Excellence in Civic Engagement Award.