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Rickell Howard Smith

Source: Rickell Howard Smith / Rickell Howard Smith

Rickell Howard Smith the Executive Director at The Center for Social Justice

Rickell Howard Smith is a civil rights attorney and policy advocate specializing in criminal and juvenile justice policy reform.  

She began her legal career as a Legal Aid attorney representing indigent clients in eviction, housing discrimination, and subsidized housing matters.  Rickell went on to become the Director for the Human Rights in Prison Litigation project at the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, where she litigated civil rights cases on behalf of incarcerated citizens in Ohio.  She further developed her expertise as Director of Litigation and Policy at Children’s Law Center, where she spearheaded policy initiatives aimed at improving the lives of young people involved with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.  In addition to her legal experience, Rickell also served as Senior Director of Community Strategies at Greater Cincinnati Foundation, where she managed the funder’s grantmaking strategy and championed a variety of racial equity initiatives.  ​ While dedicating her career to advancing social justice, Rickell built a successful track record of impactful civil rights litigation aimed at systemic change, policy reform, and cross-sector advocacy.  Her experience taught her that policy reforms must center the voices and solutions developed by communities directly impacted by injustice.   


Currently, Rickell serves on the Board of Trustees of Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio.  Prior board experience includes Lighthouse Community School Board and Central Community Health Board.  Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Rickell holds a B.B.A from Howard University and J.D. from Temple University School of Law. ​