Sandra Susan Smith headshot.Professor Sandra Susan Smith has been appointed faculty director of Harvard Kennedy School’s Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy. Smith serves as the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice at the Kennedy School and faculty director of the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management. She is also a professor of sociology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute. She will start her additional appointment as director of the Wiener Center on July 1.

“We are extremely fortunate that Professor Smith has agreed to direct the Wiener Center at Harvard Kennedy School,” said Dean Douglas Elmendorf. “Her outstanding scholarship on urban poverty and joblessness and on social capital and social networks—along with criminal justice—make her an ideal leader for the center.”

Smith’s research has been published widely in both books and academic journals. Her publications include the books Lone Pursuit: Distrust and Defensive Individualism among the Black Poor and The Cultural Logics of Job-Matching Assistance (forthcoming). Recently, Smith has focused on the front end of criminal case processing, including the ways in which pretrial detention significantly worsens social, economic, and psychological outcomes. In each of the areas she studies, racial inequality and its root causes are core issues of concern. 

As faculty director of the Program in Criminal Justice, Smith has organized the Roundtable on Racial Disparities in Massachusetts Criminal Courts, a 3-year project that brings together leading practitioners and experts to develop more just and racially equitable policies, practices, and procedures in Massachusetts’ criminal legal system. Smith also serves on several advisory boards for analytic and philanthropic organizations.

“For more than three decades, the Malcolm Wiener Center has been engaged with some of the most important social policy debates in this country,” Smith said. “I am honored by the chance to work with my faculty colleagues—including many who have come to the Kennedy School in the past few years—to build on the Wiener Center’s proud tradition of scholarship, teaching, and outreach.”

Smith succeeds David Deming as director of the Wiener Center. Deming serves as academic dean of the Kennedy School and is the Isabelle and Scott Black Professor of Political Economy. He and his wife Janine Santimauro are the faculty deans of Harvard College’s Kirkland House. “I am delighted that Sandra Smith will lead the Wiener Center,” Deming said. “She is a first-rate scholar with a deep and abiding commitment to social policy and practice, and I know that the center will thrive under her leadership.”
Dean Elmendorf commented: “David Deming has led the Wiener Center with great energy and vision during the past three years, as he is now helping to lead the entire Kennedy School. All of us at the Kennedy School are in his debt.”

The Wiener Center addresses public policy questions about health care, education, criminal justice, the work force, and inequality of wealth and income. The center is an influential voice in domestic policy through evidence-based faculty research and outreach to policymakers and public leaders. 

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Isabella Roden