Penny Smith is a Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPTD®), IDI®(Intercultural Development Instrument) Qualified Administrator, and co-creator of “Decolonizing Data and Language” workshop. She leads the Policy and Leadership Department at Erikson Institute as the director of learning and impact and is focused on developing capacity-building learning models that activate a base of committed Illinois leaders who can protect and increase investments in early childhood; contribute to building back the early childhood system; and amplify awareness of the importance of early childhood locally, statewide and nationally. Using her skillset and nonprofit experience of more than 20 years, she has built programs from the ground up. Stand-out programs such as the Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows and the Executive Fellows have cultivated a pipeline of diverse leaders who examine racial equity issues and change policy to increase access to the programs and services all children and families need. She also builds partnerships with organizations, both local and across the U.S., seeking consultation on workshops designed with a racial equity lens and based in adult-learning theory. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering from the University of Cincinnati and a Master of Science degree in training and development from the University of St. Francis.