Derrick L. Smith

Position title: Senior Director of External Relations, Partnerships & Development


Derrick Smith portrait

Derrick Smith has served as Senior Director of External Relations, Partnerships & Development for the Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement since 2021. As an executive team member, works with internal and external stakeholders at the local, state, and national levels to forge strategic alliances, lead engagement, further corporate relations and nonprofit partnerships, develop sponsorship strategies, and build donor relations.

Prior to joining the DDEEA in 2021, Smith was director of development at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, where he managed the fundraising, strategic planning, donor relations, and stewardship of major gifts for the program. Before joining UW–Madison, he led strategic planning and special projects at Catholic Charities, and scientific sales and marketing for Thermo Fisher Scientific. He has served as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Urban League of Greater Madison. He is also one of the chapter founders of the 100 Black Men of Madison, and past president of the Madison Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. He serves on the Agrace Hospice and Madison Symphony Orchestra Boards.

An Army brat, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and raised in Long Beach, California. He developed an early commitment to education as he saw his community produce young people who didn’t see college as a possibility. He went to the U.S. Air Force Academy and pursued his life-long interest in science.