Zakiya Smith Ellis


Zakiya Ellis

Zakiya Smith Ellis is a principal at EducationCounsel, a mission-based consulting firm, where she helps clients navigate the current education policy climate to develop solutions that improve equity and outcomes for students. Before joining EducationCounsel, Ellis held the role of chief policy adviser to Governor Phil Murphy (D-NJ) and previously served as New Jersey’s secretary of higher education. Twice named one of Forbes’ top 30 under 30 in education earlier in her career, Ellis has led policy development and program implementation at the White House, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Lumina Foundation.

Ellis holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and secondary education from Vanderbilt University (TN), a master’s degree in education policy and management from Harvard University (MA), and a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania. She currently chairs the board of the Institute for College Access and Success and serves as a Senate-appointed member of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity.