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March 3, 2008

Ellen S. Smith, Columbia’s Assistant Vice President
and Director of Government Relations, Says Farewell

Columbia University’s Office of Government and Community Affairs today announced that Ellen S. Smith will step down from her position as Assistant Vice President and Director of Government Relations to spend more time with her family. Smith served at Columbia for more than 16 years and will continue in her current position until early March, when she will begin serving as a special advisor to the Office of Government and Community Affairs through the end of the year.

Ellen S. Smith

“Ellen has helped the University to expand, nurture and deepen our relationships with our elected representatives and those in the executive branch,” said Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger.  “She has worked throughout her career to serve the public interest and to ensure that Columbia works in partnership with federal, state and local governments to fulfill its academic mission while helping our community and city, our nation and our world.”

Smith has been the University’s principal liaison with the federal and state legislative branches and executive officials in the areas of science policy, tax policy, Medicare and Medicaid, and higher education policy and financing. She also has worked on activities centered in New York City, organizing numerous internship programs, student advocacy trips, policy conferences and briefings.

In addition, Smith has served on and led a number of committees for professional and national university associations. She currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Community Impact, an organization she chaired for three years. Community Impact is the University’s largest student volunteer organization, providing services and programs to more than 8,000 lower-income children, adults and families in Harlem, Washington Heights and Morningside Heights. Community Impact provides food, clothing, shelter, education, job training and companionship for residents in the communities surrounding Columbia.

“Ellen’s efforts on behalf of the University have benefited students, faculty and staff, as well as our community,” said Maxine Griffith, executive vice president of Government and Community Affairs. “She has forged working partnerships among student groups, civic organizations and government officials, helping us all find common ground for enhancing the University’s public service mission. We deeply appreciate Ellen’s years of service to Columbia.” 

Immediately prior to joining Columbia’s government affairs office, Smith worked for a decade in Washington, D.C., where she was assistant director of government relations at the American Psychiatric Association (1986–90), a consultant (1980–81) and a staff analyst in the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment’s health program (1984–86). From 1981–84, she was the director of financial aid and planning at Georgetown Medical School. Prior to 1980, Smith was as an administrator at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, an educational psychologist at Kennedy Memorial Hospital and a research associate at the Harvard Center for Community Health and Medical Care. A native of New Haven, Conn., she earned her B.A. from Simmons College, a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.