Diana Mendley Rauner Elected New President of Ounce of Prevention FundHarriet Meyer Takes on New Role after 20 Years of Leading National Early Childhood Organization
September 8, 2010
CHICAGO – Diana Mendley Rauner, PhD, was elected president of the Ounce of Prevention Fund today, and will lead the renowned early childhood advocacy organization in that position effective Jan. 1, 2011.
Rauner succeeds Harriet Meyer, who has served as president of the Ounce for 20 years. During her tenure, Meyer established the Ounce as a national leader in advocating for and providing early childhood education.
"Harriet Meyer has been instrumental in making early childhood education a part of the national dialogue and establishing the Ounce of Prevention Fund as a policy and program expert," said Dick Rothkopf, chairman of the board of directors. "We are thrilled that Diana Rauner will be carrying on the work that Harriet has so ably begun. Diana has already established herself as an effective and innovative leader, and we are looking forward to her tenure as President."
Currently Executive Director of the Ounce, Rauner served as a board member for five years before joining the staff as its chief executive in 2007. Rauner has overseen the expansion of the Ounce's Early Head Start program and the advocacy work that maintained Illinois' funding for early childhood programs during the worst economic crisis in the state's history. Rauner also was instrumental in launching several new training and research initiatives. She served as co-chair of the Campaign for Early Learning, which has raised millions of dollars for the Ounce's endowment, program expansion and the construction of the Educare Family and Training Center, due to open later this year on Chicago's South Side.
"This transition marks a new chapter for the Ounce, one that will build on the strong foundation set by Harriet Meyer," Rauner said. "I am committed to ensuring that the Ounce continues to lead the effort to improve the lives of children and families in poverty through high-quality early childhood programs."
After she steps down as president, Meyer will head Strategic Initiatives at the Ounce. In her new role, she will continue her work on the national expansion of Educare schools for young children in poverty and on consultation work with state advocacy groups to improve early childhood programs and policies across the country.
"I'm honored to have been at the helm of an organization that made tremendous strides in getting policymakers to recognize the benefits, to children and to society, of investing in the early years," Meyer said.
Meyer was a protégé of Irving Harris, a business leader and founder of the Ounce, and joined the organization in 1991. She served on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Advisory Committee that created the Early Head Start program.
During her tenure, Meyer helped fight for and secure the passage of Preschool For All, which made Illinois the first state in the country to offer high-quality, voluntary preschool for all 3- and 4-year-old children, while also providing services for at-risk infants and toddlers. Meyer co-chairs the Illinois Early Learning Council, the first coordinating council for young children to be housed in an Illinois governor's office.
"We are immensely grateful for Harriet's 20 years of tireless work for the Ounce and the positive impact she's had on the lives of thousands of children and their families," Rothkopf said. "We are very pleased that Harriet will continue her good work in a new, more strategic position at the Ounce."
The Ounce of Prevention Fund works to gives children in poverty the best chance for success in school and in life by advocating for and providing the highest quality care and education from birth to age five. Educare, the Ounce's birth-to-five school on Chicago's South Side, has become a national model for narrowing the academic achievement gap for low-income children. In the last 10 years, another 11 Educare Schools have been established across the country, in partnership with the Buffett Early Childhood Fund. The Ounce also advocates for programs and policies that benefit young children and families; provides training to early childhood professionals in Illinois; and engages in rigorous research and evaluation projects that contribute to best practices throughout the early childhood field.