Valisa Smith headshot

Valisa Smith

Executive Director, Washington State Office

Valisa Smith leads Start Early’s (formerly known as the Ounce) program, policy and professional learning work across Washington state.

Previously, Valisa was the principal at VMS Consulting, LLC, supporting the design, development and implementation of complex early learning initiatives. There, she was a lead designer of Washington state’s Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant, and she supported the Department of Early Learning to implement the $60 million grant to create high-quality early learning systems in the state.

Additionally, Valisa served as a lead senior program officer in education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Her work included designing and supporting strategies in early learning, Pacific Northwest, family homelessness and public access to technology.

Valisa received her bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Oregon and her master’s degree at McGill University in Montreal. She has worked and studied in North America, Africa and Asia and currently resides in Seattle with her husband and two children.