Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Allen smith is the son, nephew, grandson and godson of Denver Public Schools trailblazers, including the first African American Superintendent, Dr. Evie Dennis.
Allen earned his Master’s in Arts and Education from the University of Denver, and went on to obtain four Principal certifications and two Superintendent certifications from University of Denver, School Leaders of Colorado SUPES Academy and Harvard University. By 2003,
Allen founded Skyland Community High School—the only high school intentionally focused on at-risk students in Denver. In 2006, Skyland graduated its first senior class with 100% graduation AND 100% of the students having earned acceptance into college. Five of those students received the prestigious Daniel’s Fund scholarship more than any other school in the state of Colorado. He served as principal at Skyland for three years, until he was recruited to Denver Public Schools. Allen served as the Principal at Barrett Elementary School in DPS for two and a half years, reducing discipline, increasing enrollment and student achievement, before being named as the Principal of Martin Luther King, Jr. Early College, a secondary school serving grades, six through 12, once referred to as “America’s Worst School by Dateline.” Under Allen’s leadership, MLK became the 4th highest rated school in Denver Public Schools and received two “Distinguished School Awards” designated by the Colorado Department of Education. Additionally, MLK saw a graduation rate of 92%. Allen was named principal of the year in 2008, received the Stellar Education Award, Game Changer in Public Education by A+ Denver and was named “Twenty Top African-American Leaders in Colorado.” It was his success as a charter, elementary, middle and high school Principal that earned his next promotion as the Executive Director of the Denver Summit Schools—a network of turnaround and transformation schools that compromised of the district’s perpetually failing schools—a network comprised of 50% Latino, 30% African American and 20% Caucasian students. This turnaround school network has been named by numerous education journals and scholars as the largest, and most successful school turnaround effort in the country.
In 2013, Allen left Denver for Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District to become the West Learning Community Superintendent. In just one year, these schools achieved the highest growth in CMS. Unfortunately, Allen’s departure from Charlotte was bittersweet when he was approached to lead the Superintendent’s transition team as Deputy and Chief of Schools, for the Oakland Unified School District. In this capacity Allen oversees 86 schools and principals, 12 Network Superintendent’s, 25 central employees and thousands of school-based staff across the District. Allen’s most notable accomplishments include the transformation of 5 low performing schools, a new school rating system, Quality School Development in Equity, innovative principal supervisor development, Linked Learning and Pathways, a revamped athletic program, five million dollar grant from INTEL, US Department of Education work with African-American males-closing the achievement gap and bargaining the first new contract with teachers in 16 years.
In 2016, Allen returned to Denver to lead the Culture Equity and Leadership Team in Denver Public Schools, focusing on irradiating institutionalize racism for African-American students and employees. This effort has produced a set of 11 recommendations, accepted by the Board of Education, and will be implemented over the next 3-5 years.
Allen is a married to Yana Smith, who currently serves as Vice President, People Development for Teach For America. He is a father of three daughters, and a son, whom he adopted at age 14. He is an ordained Minister, volunteer in his community and member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He lives his life based on the African Proverb, “You have no more worth than a penniless man, unless you give back on the shoulders by which you stand.”