Heather Graham has spent the past two decades working to ensure that all students are prepared and have the opportunity to excel in college and careers. She has been a leader in the non-profit and philanthropic sectors where she has initiated, launched, and managed portfolios of high-impact grants focused on supporting students to and through college. As a Principal with Education First, she currently leads teams that provide strategic planning, policy analysis, advocacy, research and project management support to national and regional foundations, state and federal policymakers, and non-profit organizations. Her recent projects include leading teams that advised the Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Lumina Foundation on the strategic direction of their education grantmaking and helping the NoVo Foundation’s network of 12 social and emotional learning grantees scale their programs.
Previously, Heather served as a Program Officer with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she oversaw portfolios that included education grantees in California, Texas and the Southeast. In that capacity she provided strategic planning, operations, and governance advice and support to grantees, and developed major funding coalitions with national, regional and community foundations to support college and career readiness in California, Texas, and North Carolina. Prior to joining the Gates Foundation, Heather served as a Vice President with Teach For America, a White House Fellow with the Domestic Policy Council, and a Program Associate with the Annie E. Casey Foundation where she managed a portfolio of investments in the areas of education and family economic success.
Heather spent a year in Chengdu, China as a Henry Luce Scholar, working with the Minister of Education. She began her career as a teacher in the South Bronx with Teach For America. Heather earned an M.A. in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and a B.A. with honors from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Heather lives in Durham, NC with her husband and their two children.