Autumn Graves Named Next Head of School
December 5, 2013
Dear GPS Family,
On behalf of the Board of Trustees of Girls Preparatory School, it is our great pleasure to announce the appointment of Autumn Adkins Graves as our next Head of School, effective July 1, 2014. The Board’s unanimous decision followed the enthusiastic and unanimous recommendation of the Search Committee. We were captivated by Autumn’s warmth, intelligence, and passion for education and are overwhelmingly confident that she is the right person to lead GPS successfully into the future.
During our search for a new Head of School, the Board of Trustees focused on finding a leader who connects with people in a personal and engaging way; who has a passion for our mission of educating girls; who shares our values; and who has innovative ideas for the future while respecting our honored past and traditions. We looked for a person who would build a strong sense of community on campus and champion GPS both locally, nationally, and globally while upholding our high level of academic standards. We found all of this, and more, in Autumn.
Autumn is a nationally-recognized educator and brings years of educational leadership to GPS. She is a graduate of Collegiate School in Richmond, Virginia, and the University of Virginia and holds a masters degree from Columbia University. Currently a doctoral candidate in higher education management at the University of Pennsylvania, she has served as the Upper School Dean of Students at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C.; as Assistant Principal at Friends Seminary in New York City; and most recently as President of Girard College, an independent boarding school for students grades one through twelve in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While Autumn’s chief responsibilities throughout her career have been in school administration, she has also taught United States History and Health and Wellness and has served as a student advisor.
Autumn’s community involvement is extensive and impressive as are her numerous honors and awards. Named O Magazine’s Woman to Watch for the Decade in 2010, Autumn was an NAIS Edward E. Ford Fellow for Emerging Leaders and the recipient of a Klingenstein Center Fellowship. In 2011, she was identified in a “40 Under 40” feature in the Philadelphia Business Journal. She is married to R. Vann Graves, a native of Richmond, Virginia. An advertising executive, Vann serves as Executive Vice President and Global Executive Creative Director for McCann Worldgroup.
This announcement concludes a thorough and extensive search process which began over a year ago and engaged the entire GPS community: our dedicated faculty, staff, alumnae, parents, Trustees, students, and other friends of the School. With the leadership of Lizzer Bright Graham ’77 and the Search Committee, as well as guidance from our search firm, Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates, we were able to develop a rich and talented slate of candidates who were very interested in and impressed by all that GPS has to offer. I would like to thank everyone who took part in the search, especially the members of the Search Committee, who logged countless hours reading résumés, vetting candidates, making reference calls, and participating in multi-day visits with each of our finalists.
I look forward to joining you in welcoming Autumn and Vann to the GPS community. They will make several visits to Chattanooga in the coming months to get to know us better before officially moving in July. We look forward to the future under Autumn’s leadership as we continue the important work of educating girls.
Nini Davenport ’77
Chair, Board of Trustees
A video message from Autumn Graves