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Ellie Smith is the program manager of LeadOn, a Los Angeles program designed to provide employment and leadership opportunities for young people with prior involvement in California’s justice system.

Ellie has previously worked as a teacher, educator, and researcher staunchly committed to equity. Her time in the classroom has centered culturally-sustaining pedagogies, trauma-informed restorative practices, and community-building to support young people. Prior to entering the classroom, she worked on an initiative called Chicago City of Learning, which aimed to close opportunity gaps in out-of-school and interest-based learning in the city of Chicago. She most recently served as a labor organizer with Unite Here Local 11, canvassing to expand affordable housing and employment protections in Los Angeles.

Ellie earned her B.A. in English from the University of Chicago and her M.A. in English Education from Columbia University’s Teachers College. Her research and activist interests are broadly based in abolition, LGBTQ+ rights, and grassroots organizing.

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