EdD, Administrative and Policy Studies, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa.
MSW, Mental Health, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
BA, double major, Psychology and Sociology, The University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, Whitewater, Wis.


  • Programs that exist in the intermediary space between school, family and community
  • Programs that target children and families transitioning into kindergarten while reducing chronic absence
  • Community needs assessments, evaluations, training and technical assistance, foster quality program improvement, policy changes


  • Smythe-Leistico, K., Page, L.C., “Ready … set … text! Reducing absenteeism through parent-school two-way text messaging,” book chapter in M. Gottfried, E. Hutt (eds.), “Absent from school: Understanding and addressing student absenteeism,” Harvard Education Press, 2019
  • Smythe-Leistico, K., Page, L.C., “Connect-Text: Leveraging text-message communication to mitigate chronic absenteeism and improve parental engagement in the earliest years of schooling,” Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 2018
  • Smythe-Leistico, K.J., et al., “Blending theory with practice: Implementing kindergarten transition using the Interactive Systems Framework,” American Journal of Community Psychology, 2012
  • Smythe-Leistico, K., Laski, E., “Ready Freddy: Kindergarten club,” University of Pittsburgh Publishing, 2014
  • Smythe-Leistico, K., Fustich, K., “Ready Freddy goes to school,” Minuteman Press, 2010
  • Contributor, University of Pittsburgh School of Education Race and Early Childhood Collaborative, “Positive Racial Identity Development in Early Education: Understanding PRIDE in Pittsburgh,” 2016

Awards & Recognition

  • United Way “Be There” Attendance Champion, 2015
  • Pittsburgh Magazine/PUMP 40 under 40, 2013
  • Harvard Emerging Leader FINE Profile, 2012
  • Dr. Edward Moseley Hispanic/Latino Advocate of the Year, Tuscaloosa, Ala., 2006

“I hold that it is critical for faculty to provide a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment that fosters the ability to debate difficult topics. This endeavor begins with recognizing the distinctive backgrounds and identities of every student and considering counter narratives to myopic renderings of history.” — Kenneth Smythe-Leistico

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