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Wendy B. Smith, Ph.D., LCSW

Wendy Smith, Ph.D., LCSW, is associate dean for curriculum planning and assessment and clinical associate professor at the USC School of Social Work. In her role as associate dean, Dr. Smith leads the reaccreditation process, including assessment of student learning outcomes. She has taught classes in child and adolescent development, theory and practice with children and families, and social work practice with transition age youth. She was appointed a faculty fellow at the university’s Center for Excellence in Teaching, and has expertise in mentoring in classroom and virtual instruction.

Dr. Smith, a licensed clinical social worker, maintained a private psychotherapy practice for thirty-five years, treating adolescents, adults, and couples.  She is the author of Youth Leaving Foster Care: A Developmental, Relationship-Based Approach to Practice (Oxford University Press, 2011), which integrates multidisciplinary research to provide a new approach to working with youth who have been in the foster care system. Smith’s bio-psycho-social perspective can guide programs, policies and services that will help youth to transition successfully into adult lives. Her relationship-based approach emphasizes understanding attachment experiences and disruptions, as well as the impact of unresolved trauma and loss.

Dr. Smith is a commissioner and currently vice chair of the Los Angeles County Commission for Children and Families. She is a founding member of the board of the National Foster Youth Institute, and serves on the foundation board of Venice Family Clinic, where she chaired the behavioral health and child development committee for eight years. She is a volunteer advocate with Human Rights Watch, working on juvenile justice issues and serving on the advisory committee of its Children’s Rights Division.

Dr. Smith earned her B.A. in English Literature, Phi Beta Kappa, at the University of California, Berkeley, and her MSW and Ph.D. at UCLA.  She received the USC Mellon Culture of Mentoring Award; the George D. Nickel Award for Outstanding Services to Social Welfare from the California Social Welfare Archives; and the Brass Ring Award and Nancy M. Daly Founders’ Award from United Friends of the Children, a foster youth serving organization.

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