Sandra Susan Smith Photo
Director, Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy
Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice, HKS; Professor of Sociology, FAS; Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor, Radcliffe
Assistant: Emma Green

Sandra Susan Smith is the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice and Faculty Director of the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management. She is the Director of the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. She is also the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute. Her areas of interest include urban poverty and joblessness, social capital and social networks, and, more recently, the front end of criminal case processing, with a particular interest in the short- and long-term consequences of pretrial detention and diversion. In each of these areas, racial inequality and its root causes are core areas of concern.

Smith's publications include Lone Pursuit: Distrust and Defensive Individualism among the Black Poor; The Criminal Justice System as a Labor Market Institution, co-edited with Jonathan Simon; and the forthcoming The Cultural Logics of Job-Matching Assistance. Her research on these topics has also been published in academic journals, including the American Journal of SociologyThe Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, the Annual Review of SociologyThe DuBois Review, Ethnic and Racial StudiesSocial Problems, Social Science ResearchThe Sociological Quarterly, and Work and Occupations.

Smith serves or has recently served on a number of advisory boards, including WorkRise, Leadership Board for Research-to-Action Collaborative on Workers, Jobs, and Economic Mobility; Family Self-Sufficiency Research Technical Working Group of the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation; Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Pretrial Research Advisory Board; Y Combinator Research’s Basic Income Project Advisory Board; National Advisory Board, Misdemeanor Justice Project; University of California Criminal Justice & Health Consortium; and the Executive Session on Community Corrections, Harvard Kennedy School.

Smith’s service also extends to the discipline of sociology. She has been a Council member of the American Sociological Association, Chair of the ASA Section, Inequality, Poverty, and Mobility, and Deputy Editor of the American Sociological Review, where she also served as editorial board member. She was also on the editorial or consulting boards of the American Journal of SociologyContexts Magazine, and Sociological Science.

Smith, who holds an MA and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in history-sociology from Columbia University, has been a visiting scholar at Stanford's Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and at the Russell Sage Foundation.

Transparent Engagement 

Harvard Kennedy School is proud of its energetic involvement in the world. To better understand how to solve public problems by improving policy and leadership, we engage directly with policymakers, public leaders, governments, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit businesses whose activities affect those problems. However, we recognize that such engagement can raise questions about perceived and potential conflicts of interest, so we disclose publicly the key professional activities of our faculty outside the Kennedy School. The activities disclosed below are for the most recent reporting period, as defined by University policy. Some may be paid, some may be unpaid, and others may be in exchange for expense reimbursement only.

Outside Professional Activities For Sandra Susan Smith

Organization Relationship
Open Research Research or teaching appointment
Pretrial Justice Institute Fiduciary board membership
ACLU of Massachusetts Fiduciary board membership
EOPSS Research or teaching appointment
Russell Sage Foundation Paid external reviewer
Russell Sage Foundation Prizes or awards


Assistant: Emma Green


Social Policy
Fairness & Justice
Gender, Race & Identity
Poverty, Inequality & Opportunity

Mailing Address

Harvard Kennedy School
79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138