Announcing Three New Appointments to the NCECF Board of Directors

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At the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF), our board members play an integral role in the success of the organization, providing strategic direction, solid governance, financial accountability and oversight, and offering support and guidance to staff. Our board members are a powerhouse of individuals in their own spheres of influence, including educators, college presidents, entrepreneurs, executive directors, medical experts, nonprofit and advocacy leaders, and attorneys, who have come together to serve as early childhood champions. 

With them, our team is more supported to bring to reality our vision that each North Carolina child has a strong foundation for life-long health, education, and well-being supported by a comprehensive, equitable birth-to-eight ecosystem.

Introducing Drs. Marian F. Earls, Devonya Govan-Hunt, & Shelley Y. White

As such, NCECF is pleased to announce the election of three members to the Board of Directors. Dr. Marian F. Earls, Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician of the Cone Health NICU Developmental Follow-up Clinic in Greensboro has returned, in addition to two new members – Dr. Devonya Govan-Hunt, President of the Black Child Development Institute of Charlotte and Dr. Shelley Y. White, President of Haywood Community College.  

“Our team is honored to welcome these brilliant women to our Board of Directors,” shared Muffy Grant, NCECF Executive Director. “Dr. Earls’ background knowledge of the organization, coupled with her expertise in social emotional health as a developmental pediatrician will be a valuable asset to the strategic planning process which we are embarking upon this year. Dr. Govan-Hunt joining us will enhance our eye for equity and keep us grounded in community approaches to early literacy.  Dr. White will help us bridge gaps to reach the far western part of the state, including maintaining the connection of our early childhood work to higher education goals since we believe community colleges are at the nexus of not only education but also economic development.”


Dr. Marian F. Earls is a board-certified pediatrician in both General and Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics and brings decades of experience to NCECF in the areas of child development and infant and child mental health. In addition to her work as a pediatrician, Earls has established her own consulting company and is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics for the UNC Medical School. Her career has focused on Medicaid policy; from 2012 to 2019, she was the Medical Director of Guilford Child Health, a large, non-profit pediatric practice serving families at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. Dr. Earls is a senior advisor to the EarlyWell Initiative that NCECF co-leads with NC Child, and a founding Board member who first joined NCECF in 2013. Our organization will not only benefit from Dr. Earls’ pediatric experience, but also her unique perspective on the organization’s work throughout the last decade. Dr. Earls received her A.B. in Biology from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, her Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University, and her M.D. from the University of Massachusetts.


Dr. Devonya Govan-Hunt serves as President of the Charlotte affiliate of the National Black Child Development Institute and is an education leader and child development specialist in Mecklenburg County. She is a devoted community advocate for building literacy efforts and her child development research practices are rooted in cultural competency, addressing systemic injustices such as the preschool to prison pipeline. 

Dr. Govan-Hunt has been working alongside NCECF on the collaborative team of the Care and Learning (CandL) Initiative. We are grateful for this opportunity to engage her expertise more closely in our work. She attended Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC for her undergraduate education and studied Child Development and Early Childhood Education and Teaching. She received her Master of Education from Bowling Green State University and her PhD in Early Childhood Education and Teaching from Walden University. 


Dr. Shelley Y. White joined Haywood Community College (HCC) as its seventh President in 2020. Since then she has boldly led and unified the College through significant challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to her noteworthy leadership skills, Dr. White brings to NCECF a strong connection to western NC communities and the region’s economy. Prior to becoming President at HCC, she served as Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development at A-B Tech in Asheville and she plays an active role in the community serving on the Board of several organizations including Haywood Regional Medical Center, the Economic Development Coalition of Haywood County, the Forest Restoration Alliance, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina and WNC Communities. 

Dr. White is passionate about community college education and proud to share that she is a graduate of Isothermal Community College in Spindale, NC. She obtained her PhD in Education with a concentration in Community College Leadership from Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC. 


The NC Early Childhood Foundation is driven by a bold – and achievable – vision: Each North Carolina child has a strong foundation for life-long health, education, and well-being supported by a comprehensive, equitable birth-to-eight ecosystem. We build understanding, lead collaboration, and advance policies to ensure each North Carolina child is on track for lifelong success by the end of third grade.