Team Member

Dr. Elisha Smith Arrillaga

Message Dr. Elisha Smith Arrillaga

    Dr. Elisha Smith Arrillaga

    Executive Director

    Dr. Elisha Smith Arrillaga (she/her/hers) is the Executive Director of The Education Trust-West, the California branch of a national research and advocacy nonprofit organization committed to educational justice for students of color, students from low-income communities, and English learners. As a lifelong math lover, she is fiercely committed to increasing opportunities in STEM for students of color. A researcher by training and advocate by blood, Smith Arrillaga has taught subjects ranging from statistics to writing and research methods at the K-12 and post-secondary levels. She inherits her commitment to racial justice from her family: her father was among the first classes to integrate the University of Mississippi Law School, and her mother fought for anti-discrimination laws across north Mississippi.

    Throughout her over twenty years of research and advocacy, Smith Arrillaga has worked for, and partnered with, many organizations including the Careers Ladder Project, the Hewlett Foundation, First 5 Los Angeles, Mathematica Policy Research, and College Bound. She serves on numerous committees, boards, and taskforces – among them, Google’s Equitable Artificial Intelligence Research Roundtable, the University of California Provost Advisory Council on Educational Equity, California State University Steering Committee on Academic Preparation and Quantitative Reasoning, University of California Test Feasibility Steering Committee, and the University of Texas at Austin, Charles A. Dana Center Consensus Panel. She was also appointed as Co-Chair of the California Department of Education Closing the Achievement Gap Taskforce. Dr. Arrillaga has authored dozens of publications and is frequently interviewed by media outlets including CNN, Ed Source, and the Los Angeles Times.

    Dr. Elisha Smith Arrillaga holds a B.A. in Mathematics from Smith College and an M.S. in Survey Methodology from the University of Maryland at College Park. She was the third Black person to graduate with a Ph.D. from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. Smith Arrillaga resides in Oakland with her family and is the proud mother to an elementary school student.