2009 Tillman Scholar

Kendra Smith

University of Oklahoma

Inspired by her father and brother’s military service and her mother’s career as a civil servant, Kendra chose to earn a Masters degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in nonprofit management at the University of Oklahoma to be of service to communities. While she was a masters student, Kendra began to work in the local Oklahoma City community on a variety of projects designed to enhance life outcomes in some of the city’s most distressed neighborhoods. She understood that much of the work that the government, nonprofits, and individual volunteers perform are services to help communities in a moment of need or crisis but not to manage the root causes—this revelation led her to her next career move.

In 2011, Kendra moved to Arizona to pursue a Ph.D. in Community Resources & Development at Arizona State University. Her research focus centered on building community partnerships to enhance educational outcomes for children. In 2015, Kendra earned her Ph.D. 

She is a Policy Analyst at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy where she specializes in research on social and educational policy. Also an educator, Smith has enjoyed years of teaching and now actively mentors graduate students and new professionals. 

Kendra strives to improve her community through research and action. Her motto in life is always to put her “ideas into action” and strive to do meaningful work, always.