National Autism Researcher and Education Policy Expert Join NCECF Board

Raleigh—Dr. Geraldine Dawson, Director of the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development and Heather Graham, Principal at Education First have been appointed to the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF). NCECF’s vision is that each North Carolina child has a strong foundation for lifelong success and reading proficiency, supported by the nation’s best birth-to-eight system.

Time Magazine named Dr. Dawson’s research on autism one of the Top 10 Medical Breakthroughs of 2012. Dr. Dawson’s early intervention model with toddlers with autism resulted in improved cognitive, language, and social functioning and normalization of brain activity, as measured by EEG. Her scientific research has been recognized by the National Institutes of Health as a Top Advance in Autism Research six times. Prior to returning to North Carolina, Dr. Dawson first Chief Science Officer for Autism Speaks and was the Founding Director of the University of Washington Autism Center where she directed three consecutive interdisciplinary NIH Autism Center of Excellence research awards on genetics, neuroimaging, early diagnosis, and treatment.

Ms. Graham has spent the past two decades working to ensure that all students are prepared and have the opportunity Hgraham headshotto excel in college and careers. As a Principal with Education First, she leads teams that provide strategic planning, policy analysis, advocacy and research support to national and regional foundations, state and federal policymakers, and non-profit organizations. Previously, she served as a Program Officer with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a Vice President with Teach For America, a White House Fellow with the Domestic Policy Council, Program Associate with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and a Henry Luce Scholar in China. She began her career as a teacher in the New York City.

“NCECF is fortunate to have these two powerhouses joining the board,” said Dr. Olson Huff, NCECF Board Chair. “Their expertise will help guide the organization as it launches its next phase of work to convene state leaders to define North Carolina’s measures of success beginning at birth that put children on a pathway to grade-level reading success by third grade.”