Meet Dr. Virginia Watson Adams, Christopher Chung, Dr. Paul Lanier, and Cecelia Thompson
The North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF) is excited to welcome four new members to our board of directors. These new members represent diverse backgrounds and fields — from nursing to nonprofit and social work to government — but all share the same passion for building a comprehensive and equitable care and education system, from prenatal through third grade.
With their partnership, NCECF will continue working to ensure each North Carolina child has a strong foundation for life-long health, education, and well-being.
Virginia W. Adams, PhD, RN, FAAN
Dr. Virginia Watson Adams has devoted her career to public service. A Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, Dr. Adams was Dean and Professor at the UNC Wilmington School of Nursing, Inaugural Director of Diversity and Global Initiatives at the National League for Nursing, and served for 13 years in the United States Air Force and US Army Reserve Nurse Corps where she was honorably discharged at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Christopher Chung brings more than 25 years of experience in state-level economic development to the NCECF board. Chung is CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC), where he has helped North Carolina win corporate expansion projects that resulted in nearly 170,000 new jobs and $55 billion in investment.
Before his tenure at EDPNC, he worked at the Missouri Partnership and the Ohio Department of Development. Since 2022, Chung has worked on economic development at the federal level as a member of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the United States Investment Advisory Council.
Paul Lanier, MSW, PhD
Dr. Paul Lanier is a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill’s renowned School of Social Work, where his research focuses on developing, evaluating, and scaling up evidence-based prevention programs and policies in child welfare, mental health, and early childhood systems. At UNC, he serves in two roles that highlight his passion for children and families: as the Associate Director of the Jordan Institute for Families and as Director of Behavioral Health Services and Systems Research at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research.
Dr. Lanier received his doctoral degree from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and was a fellow with the national Doris Duke Fellowship for the Promotion of Child Well-Being.
Cecelia Thompson serves as Executive Director of Action Greensboro, a nonprofit that brings together eight charitable foundations to leverage social and philanthropic impact. Thompson’s work focuses on talent and workforce development, K-20 education, urban livability, advocacy campaigns, and city marketing efforts — all an important part of the ecosystem NCECF is working to build for North Carolina’s children.
In addition to her role at Action Greensboro, Thompson serves on the boards of the Guilford Education Alliance, the Greensboro ABC Commission, and is a gubernatorial appointee to the North Carolina Humanities Council.
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 and equitable care and education system, from prenatal through third grade. 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.