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Notable Alumni

Elissa Good Smith, Ph.D.

Graduation Year:
Ph.D. in Leadership and Policy
Lyndonville Central School Elementary Principal (grades PreK - 6)


Through my work at Niagara University, I was able to focus my research interests on rural education, program analysis and education policy. The cohort model encouraged collaboration with people who had varied backgrounds and experiences, and this interdisciplinary collegiality positively impacted both my education at NU and my current leadership style. I was able to serve a semester as a research assistant, which heightened my ability to balance multiple projects, while also completing both qualitative and quantitative research. While completing my degree, I served as a 7-12 Spanish teacher, AVID (college preparation) coordinator, and taught college-level communication courses.

Since completing my Ph.D., I have accepted a position as the PreK-6 Principal at Lyndonville Central School. I also serve as a New York Educator Voice Policy Fellow through America Achieves. Through this fellowship, I have been working to educate legislators about topics that impact public schools and to influence and change education policy at the state level, including lobbying efforts in person at the Capitol through individual meetings with legislators. I have had op-eds and policy reviews published, and I have co-authored bills that garnered bipartisan sponsorship in the New York Senate and New York Assembly (regarding teacher assistant credit toward maintaining NYSED certification). Thanks to the background of the Ph.D. program in leadership and policy at Niagara University, I am diligently working on policy analysis and policy change on a regular basis. 

"Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can." - John Wesley