J. Malcolm Smith Named an Aspen Index Senior Impact Fellow

Aspen Index Senior Impact Fellow J Malcolm Smith
Kalamazoo College Vice President for Student
Development and Dean of Students J. Malcolm Smith

Kalamazoo College Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students J. Malcolm Smith has been named as one of the Aspen Institute’s inaugural Aspen Index Impact Fellows.  

The Aspen Index Impact Fellowship brings together more than 90 community stakeholders in a movement to advance the future of youth leadership development. Fellows include college presidents, senior leaders, educators and youth from across the United States. 

Impact Fellows—representing a diverse mosaic of sectors, geographies, and areas of expertise—will advance an urgent agenda focused on the research, interventions, and strategies necessary to accelerate the access to, and quality of, youth leadership programs nationally. The goal of this initiative is to lift youth exposure to high-quality leadership programs above 50 percent over the next five years. 

“At few times has the need for a generation of values-driven, community-oriented youth leaders been more apparent. We can no longer take leadership development for granted,” shared Aspen Index Founder Dr. John Dugan in a press release. “We must provide opportunities for youth to cultivate their talent to address growing political, social, and scientific issues—not in some distant future, but today.” 

Smith has served as K’s vice president for student development and dean of students since 2021. Prior to joining K, he served at Salve Regina beginning in 2013 as dean of students and associate vice president before being named vice president in 2019. He has worked at a variety of institutions, including John Carroll University, Ohio University and University of Illinois at Chicago and holds extensive experience in multiple student development areas. In 2006, Smith received the Annuit Coeptis Award for Emerging Professionals from the American College Personnel Association. He holds a B.A. in elementary education and a M.Ed. in college student personnel, both from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.  

“It is an honor and a privilege to serve as an Aspen Institute Fellow,” Smith said. “The work is important and will have an impact on leadership development nationally. I’m proud to represent Kalamazoo College in this endeavor.” 

The Aspen Institute noted that fewer than 32% of youth under the age of 25 in the United States are exposed to any form of leadership development. Even fewer are exposed to programs with the necessary quality to make a meaningful difference in participants’ lives. Both of these realities exist despite evidence that youth leadership development is a critical factor for educational persistence, workforce readiness, and civic engagement. 

Impact Fellows will aid in the development, optimization, and beta-testing of the Aspen Institute Leadership Development Index (Aspen Index), a digital tool that will be used to measure core leadership capacities to accelerate personal and professional growth. They will also co-create the supporting learning architecture to ensure its success. This work dove-tails with major reports to be released on the future of youth leadership research and practice. Together, the Aspen Institute is working with Impact Fellows to create a movement of greater access to and quality of youth leadership programs. 

For more information about the Aspen Institute Leadership Development Index, visit the institute’s website.