Renee Smith-Maddox

Clinical Professor and Diversity Liaison

Dr. Smith-Maddox's interests include teaching diversity, social innovation, and the capacity-building needs of nonprofit organizations

Media Contact
Renee Smith-Maddox
Phone:  +1 213.821.7053
Rank:  Clinical Teaching
Department:  Social Change and Innovation
Assignment:  Ground

Renee Smith-Maddox

Clinical Professor and Diversity Liaison

Dr. Smith-Maddox's interests include teaching diversity, social innovation, and the capacity-building needs of nonprofit organizations

Media Contact


Renee Smith-Maddox, Ph.D. is currently a clinical professor and diversity liaison for the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. She is also the chair of the school’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee. She teaches online and on-ground courses in the Master of Social Work and Doctor of Social Work programs in areas such as social change and innovation, organizational development, Capstone Projects, and Integrated Residential Programs. Dr. Smith-Maddox co-chairs USC’s DEI Awareness Week, an annual professional learning event that provides 100 sessions focusing on a range of DEI-related topics to the USC campus community (including students, staff, faculty, and alumni).
As a DEI practitioner, Dr. Smith-Maddox’s extensive knowledge in designing and managing DEI initiatives is informed by her experience as a professional coach, an education analyst in the NYC Board of Education, an executive director of youth development and college access programs, and a teacher researcher with inquiry-based research projects in K-12 schools. 
In her capacity as Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Dr. Smith-Maddox conducted the school’s climate study which included (co-designing the climate survey with the staff, students, and faculty). She also designed Diversity Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Learning Labs as problem-solving spaces for students, staff, and faculty to address implicit bias and microaggressions and reconceptualize a more diverse, just, inclusive, equitable classroom and work environment. 
At the university level, she has chaired the Provost’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, led the DEI strategic planning process for 23 academic units, and co-chaired the Academic Senate’s Campus Climate Committee. In reviewing the institutional commitment to diversity through hiring practices, Dr. Smith-Maddox has conducted document analyses of key indicators for studying the progress on diversifying the full-time faculty. In addition, she provided guidance and leadership for the review process of peer institutions engaged in DEI work to determine the type of infrastructure, resources, and programs that are in place to support DEI in higher education institutions.



Brandeis University

Ph. D. 1994

Brandeis University

M. M. H. S. 1989

Lincoln University

B. A. 1976

Area of Expertise

  • Advocacy and Social Justice
  • Corporate Social Responsbility
  • Race Gender and Class in Organization Processes
  • Diversity
  • Social Work Education
  • Social Work
  • Policy Evaluations
  • Social Innovation
  • Race Culture and Ethnicity
  • Community Organizing and Engagement

Industry Experience

  • Program Development
  • Research
  • Education/Learning
  • Social Services

Articles & Publications

Preservice teacher inquiry: Creating a space to dialogue about becoming a social justice educator | Teaching and Teacher Education

Lynn, Marvin, and Renée Smith-Maddox
2007 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...


Using critical race theory, paulo freire’s problem-posing method, and case study research to confront race and racism in education | Qualitative Inquiry

Renée Smith-Maddox, and Daniel G. Solórzano
2002 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...


Educational aspirations of African American eighth graders | Race, Gender and Class

Renée Smith-Maddox
2000 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.



  • Keynote
  • Moderator
  • Panelist
  • Workshop