Elisha Smith Arrillaga


Smith Arrillaga

Vice President, Research

Center for Effective Philanthropy


Elisha Smith Arrillaga, Ph.D., Vice President, Research, manages Center for Effective Philanthropy’s Research team, leading the creation, development, analysis, and release of various research projects and initiatives relevant to the philanthropic sector’s most pressing issues.

Before joining CEP in 2023, Elisha was a faculty fellow and professor of practice in philanthropy and education policy at the University of Texas, and she was the founder and CEO of Student Success Solutions, an education consulting firm that partners with philanthropies, nonprofits, and government to analyze, design, and execute equity-focused student success strategies. She previously held the role of managing director of the Dana Center at the University of Texas and executive director of Education Trust West. Earlier in her career, Elisha served as director in the Career Ladders Project at the Foundation for California Community Colleges, the first fellow at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and a director at Mathematica Policy Research.

Elisha has additionally served on a range of state and national advisory groups including Google’s Equitable Artificial Intelligence Research Roundtable, the advisory board of the American Mathematics Education Study, and the national advisory board at Just Equations, where she is also a research fellow. She has spoken widely at conferences such as South by Southwest, has published articles and op-eds on educational inequities, and has been interviewed by various media outlets, including CNN.

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