Meet Our Team

NCFL is made up of a caring, professional team working together to see families and communities thrive through relevant, equitable education. We’re wholly committed to workplace diversity as an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Click on individual staff names to learn more or access contact information.



Community Impact

Education Strategy & Innovation

Executive Team

Finance & IT

Operations and Strategy

Research & Policy

Senior Team

Felicia C. Smith, Ed. D.
President & CEO

A lifelong educator and national thought leader for teaching and learning, Dr. Felicia C. Smith brings decades of valuable experience to advance NCFL’s mission of working to eradicate poverty through education solutions for families.


Smith has led the organization in casting a bold new vision that helps to create equitable communities where children and families may thrive. NCFL is forging new partnerships in the field to accelerate family learning systems of support as a revolutionary idea for multigenerational learning and impact. This means children and parenting adults or caregivers will have greater access and opportunities to programmatic support for enhancing educational attainment and economic prosperity.


Smith’s career in education spans more than two decades where she has served in a variety of leadership roles in P-12, higher education, nonprofit, and philanthropy. Her unique vantage point of a learner’s educational trajectory, from preschool to adulthood, is a result of her experience in leading across multiple education systems. Prior to joining NCFL, Smith was the senior director of Global Delivery at the National Geographic Society, where she oversaw the domestic and global education strategy implementation and programming focused on transforming the classroom experience for millions of students and educators.  Before this, Smith served as assistant superintendent of Teaching and Learning in the 27th largest urban district (Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville, Kentucky); as a senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; as associate commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Education; and teacher leader. She began her career as a classroom teacher in the elementary grades and has taught as a preservice lecturer at the University of Kentucky.


Smith is driven by her commitment to equity and excellence for every learner. She has been a fierce advocate for teacher leadership programs, competency-based education, college and career readiness, policy transformation, and professional learning. Her non-traditional pathway to leadership has helped her maintain a focus on improving learning outcomes by ensuring effective classroom practices spread and scale across systems. She has advocated for transforming teacher preparation and in-service practices to promote the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for educators to effectively implement innovative practices addressing the needs of learners.


Smith has been recognized as an Aspen-Pahara education fellow and serves as a member of several national and local boards. Smith serves as Vice Chair of the Southern Regional Education Board, and in 2022, was appointed by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear to chair the state’s Early Childhood Advisory Council. At the forefront of centering equity in education through inclusive programming, in 2021 she was selected to participate in The Equity Lab’s prestigious year-long Nexus Fellowship.


Smith holds an Ed.D. in Education Leadership and Administration from the University of Kentucky, an M.A. in elementary education with an emphasis on K-12 literacy, and a B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Louisville.

Whitney Fields
Director, Family Leadership

As the Director of Family Leadership, Whitney supports a team around NCFL’s family leadership work. Such work includes programs like Activate! Local and Activate! National, and other co-design and coalition-building work aimed at family-based leadership opportunities. Prior to joining NCFL, she worked at United Way of Central Indiana in a variety of 2Gen-type roles and most recently served as 2Gen Partnerships and Engagement Director. In that role, she led a wide array of learning-based opportunities relating to the 2Gen model, served as a support to their grantee pool of 34 community-based organizations, and started a pilot parent advisory council. Prior to United Way, she worked at a national Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) engaging with the community around health equity and quality of life-related work. Whitney’s passion for authentic community engagement stems from her time in AmeriCorps as a VISTA member and her community organizing background in food justice-based work, as well as asset-based community development models. Additionally, as an offspring of a long line of educators, she is passionate about the upward mobility equal educational access and attainment can provide.


She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Sciences from the University of Kentucky and a Master of Public Affairs degree from Indiana University.


While she’s been based in the Indianapolis area for 8+ years, Whitney is a Kentucky girl by heart with roots in Eastern and Central Kentucky and plans to relocate back to the Lexington area soon. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, staying active, being outside, seeing live music, collecting and listening to records, being creative, and reading.

Tony Peyton
Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff

Before returning to NCFL, Tony Peyton served as the Program Director at the C.E. and S. Foundation, a private family foundation focused on education grantmaking, where he led the development and execution of a grantmaking strategy focused on important issues such as early childhood education, K-12, Out-of School Time, postsecondary education, family stability, and family engagement. He previously served on Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s senior staff as the Director of Public Policy, a role in which he created, developed, and managed the city’s Cradle to Career initiative. He also served as the primary liaison for the mayor with local, state, and national education institutions and organizations. Earlier in his career, Tony was the Senior Director of Policy and Government Relations at the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL), where he was responsible for federal and state policy, lobbying, and advocacy activities. Tony serves on the Board of Directors of the National Civic League and the University of Louisville’s Early Learning Campus and Early Childhood Research Center. He was also a founding member of the Board of Advisors of the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy at Penn State University.


In 2020, Tony was one of ten people in the country chosen for the inaugural cohort of the National League of Cities (NLC)’s Early Childhood Municipal Fellowship sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Bezos Family Foundation, and Pritzker Children’s Initiative. Tony attended Paducah Community College, received his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Louisville, and completed the Certificate Program in Legislative Studies at Georgetown University’s Government Affairs Institute.