Partnership Staff 2018-12-04T15:47:25+00:00

Jason Smith, Partnership Executive Director

Jason is passionate about improving social mobility and equity through student success and workforce participation. He has been working in the philanthropic, health and education sectors for 20 years. Jason is currently serving as the partnership executive director for Bridging Richmond. Prior to becoming the executive director, Jason served as the manager for evidence based decision making for Bridging Richmond. Jason has also served as a community health liaison for a nonprofit health system, chief administrative officer for a state-wide Baptist nonprofit and a community center director in the East End of the city of Richmond.

Jason is currently part of the inaugural Lumina Federal Policy Corps and the second Higher Learning Advocacy Champion cohort. He was also part of the Virginia delegation to the Lumina Foundation state policy retreat in 2018. Jason advocates for policy solutions to help all students reach their potential by creating pathways to success that are clearer, more affordable and supported by wrap-around services. Jason is frequently an invited presenter or consultant on continuous improvement, collective impact and improving equity in education. Recent engagements have included Lumina Foundation, StriveTogether, National Science Foundation, National Alliance for Partners in Equity, 50K Coalition, National College Access Network and Forsyth Promise. Locally, he chairs the Capital Region Collaborative education action area and serves on the Advisory Committee for NextUp, an out-of-school time intermediary.

Jason earned a PhD from VCU in Organizational Leadership and Learning, where he combined coursework in public and nonprofit administration and organizational learning. His dissertation on the role of cognition and emotion in organizational change received the 2010 Outstanding Dissertation Award from the School of Education. Jason holds an MDiv from the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, a BS in Biology and BA in Religious Studies from VCU. Jason also completed executive and continuing professional education on measurement, design, and analysis methods at Harvard, Results Based Leadership from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and regional leadership development through Leadership Metro Richmond.

Stephanie Odera, Partnership Associate Director

Stephanie Odera is the Associate Director for the Bridging Richmond partnership. In this role, she will plan, prioritize, and coordinate the activities of the Operations Leadership Team and support for the related Collaborative Action Networks. Stephanie will also be responsible for project management, policy and practice change leadership, outreach, and communications and resource development as well as lead the Lumina Foundation grant work associated with the Richmond Talent Hub designation.

Stephanie earned a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from VCU as well as a Bachelor and Master degrees in Social Work. As a social work practitioner she has over 10 years of experience in the field of social work which include working as a school social worker in Richmond City Public Schools and as a CPS Specialist II for the Virginia Department of Social Services. Immediately prior to joining the partnership, Stephanie served as an assistant professor in teaching at VCU School of Social Work where her teaching and research interests included educational equity, the promotion of racial and economic justice, and social work in educational settings.

In addition to her professional interests, Stephanie enjoys karaoke, pretending to be a master chef, and volunteering with the March of Dimes at Henrico Doctors Hospital.

Alex Rooke, Action Network Coordinator

Alex Rooke joined the Bridging Richmond staff on July 10, 2014, preceded by volunteering her time with Bridging Richmond for several projects.  As the action network coordinator, Alex incubates new action networks, coordinates improvement teams, facilitates connections between existing networks, and fosters peer peer accountability across organizations and sectors.

Alex brings to the team first-hand experience with Richmond students; she worked at Higher Achievement as a center aide and math and science teacher, in addition to mentoring students throughout the school year.  While in these roles she collaborated with community partners, school staff, parents and students to promote meaningful learning experiences for students.

Alex currently volunteers at Side By Side (formerly ROSMY), walking alongside LGBTQ youth on their life journey as a youth group facilitator. Alex holds a Bachelor of Arts in Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies with minors in math and secondary education from the University of Richmond.