Grace tapped to head national childhood development group

Tupelo early childhood advocate Dr. Cathy Grace is taking a year to help children around the country.
Grace, the founding director of the Mississippi State University Early Childhood Institute, will serve as the Early Childhood Development Policy Director for the Children’s Defense Fund. She’ll be based in Washington, D.C., but will travel around the country.
Grace has a long list of accomplishments in her 35 years as an educator, including founding the Lee County Family Resource Center. On Thursday, she said she was fortunate to have this opportunity to work on a national level.
“There’s been a lot of talk about the importance of early childhood education,” said Grace, who holds a doctorate in education. “Hopefully we can get some action.”
The Children’s Defense Fund lauded Grace as a seasoned and creative early childhood specialist who knows how to put policy into action.
In addition to her work at MSU, she was appointed to the Mississippi Early Childhood Advisory Council and has been part of Mississippi Building Blocks, a public-private partnership designed to improve the quality of early childhood care and education around Mississippi.
Grace, who lives in Tupelo, is taking an unpaid leave of absence from her MSU position, starting July 1. Esther Howard and Gail Lindsey will serve as interim co-directors in Grace’s absence.
“People won’t know I’m gone,” Grace said. “I have such a strong staff.”
Contact Michaela Gibson Morris at (662) 678-1598 or at


Michaela Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

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