Renée Smith-Maddox is a clinical associate professor and Vice Chair of Curriculum for the Department of Social Change and Innovation. She teaches online and on-the-ground courses in the school’s Master of Social Work and Doctor of Social Work programs. She is the lead instructor for the policy advocacy and social course and serves as the school’s Diversity Liaison to the Provost. At the university level, she is Chair of the Provost’s Diversity and Inclusion Council and is co-chair of the Campus Climate Committee. She also works with the Provost’s office to develop programs and initiatives that raise awareness and provoke dialogue about campus climate issues.
As a social work educator and mentor, Dr. Smith-Maddox prepares her students to be advocates for and designers of social change. In the classroom, she creates a learning community that teaches students how to assess, analyze, and evaluate policies and programs. This learning environment also serves as a social innovation lab for students and professionals to prototype and test their ideas to solving our most complex challenges.
Prior to her appointment at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, Smith-Maddox held faculty positions at the USC Rossier School of Education and the University of California, Los Angeles, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. Her experience as an education analyst with the New York City Board of Education and a teacher researcher with inquiry-based research projects laid the foundation for her interests in diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Smith-Maddox has worked as an executive director with the Posse Foundation, the Los Angeles Urban League, and First Place for Youth. In this capacity, she focused on fund development and designing service delivery systems for college access programs, workforce development initiatives, and transitional services for foster care youth. From this work, she has come to understand the issues that nonprofits face and the sustainable creative solutions that are needed to address their existing and emerging challenges. She is also a professional coach and volunteers for cause-specific efforts that promote the progress individuals and organizations are making in areas such as youth development, human trafficking, and homelessness.
Brandeis University: Ph. D. 1994
Brandeis University: M. M. H. S. 1989
Lincoln University: B. A. 1976
Areas of Expertise (10)
Industry Expertise (4)
- Workshop Leader
Articles & Publications (3)
Lynn, Marvin, and Renée Smith-Maddox
In this paper, we reflect on our experience with an experimental inquiry component within a teacher education program in a large urban city on the West Coast of the United States. This learning space, which is referred to as “Inquiry,” promotes the integration of theoretical and practical knowledge through reflection and dialogue. We highlight how this inquiry-oriented process enabled preservice teachers to reflect on and dialogue about existing ideals of social justice and equity with regard to teaching diverse learners...
Renée Smith-Maddox, and Daniel G. Solórzano
In this article, the authors use critical race theory (CRT), Paulo Freire’s problem-posing method, and case study research to introduce an alternative instructional and pedagogical methodology in teacher education. These approaches attempt to get at deep-rooted ideologies by creating a space in a social foundations course for teacher candidates to unlearn their stereotypical knowledge of race while analyzing and theorizing what it means to teach a diverse student population. When using such a methodology, the authors recommend that teacher candidates have access to a variety of cultural immersion and field experiences in communities of color...
This study uses cross-sectional data from the 1988 National Education Longitudinal Study of Eighth Graders to explore the factors affecting the educational aspirations of African American eighth graders and the extent to which this goal-oriented variable varies by class and gender. The results indicate that a combination of family (i.e., parent's expectations, parent involvement, poverty status, and parent's education), community (i.e., discussing high school plans and careers with an adult outside of the family and participation in activities outside of school) and school measures (i.e., mathematics test scores and placement in low ability groups) have a direct effect on aspirations. These factors represent a combination of social and cultural resources that are embedded in a young adolescent's social network. Within this network the young adolescent has a variety of experiences with individuals in their family, school, and community. It is in this domain where aspirations are developed.