Denise Smith is Vice President of Early Learning at Excellent Schools Detroit. In this role she oversees the organization’s work related to the system of early learning and care. In alignment with the organizational goal of ensuring an excellent education for every child in Detroit, Denise drives the conditions that ensure we prepare our youngest learners early for success. To this end, Denise defines goals and oversees strategies that support the development of all adults – parents, educators, administrators, policymakers and stakeholders, who impact the readiness of children to successfully meet and exceed transition benchmarks of kindergarten, third grade, and ultimately in life. She currently serves as one of thirteen appointees to Governor Rick Snyder’s Pre K-12 Literacy Commission tasked to provide policy recommendations and reports on the state’s progress in becoming a national leader in literacy.

Prior to joining Excellent Schools Detroit, Denise served as Director of Great Start to Quality, Michigan’s statewide and tiered quality rating and improvement system. Her expertise also includes extensive experience designing, managing and consulting early learning and care programs. Denise completed her undergraduate work in both Communication and in French at the University of Michigan and her graduate degree in Human Development, Education Leadership and Infant Toddler Development, from Pacific Oaks College. She is a mother and life-long Detroiter who is both personally and professionally committed to the restored vitality of Detroit’s communities and educational environments.