For immediate release
Aug. 27, 2012

Media contact:
Dan Kaufman

Kris Perry Named New Executive Director of the First Five Years Fund
Nation’s leading early childhood advocacy organization selects one of California’s top child advocates

Washington, Aug. 27, 2012 – The First Five Years Fund (FFYF) today announced the appointment of Kris Perry as its new executive director. Perry, a nationally recognized early childhood advocate, has been instrumental in driving effective early learning policy at local, state and national levels. As executive director, Perry will oversee policy and communication efforts nationwide for the First Five Years Fund, one of the country’s leading organizations focused on improving federal policy regarding quality birth to 5 education programs for at-risk children.

Perry previously served as executive director of First 5 California, a statewide organization that mobilizes education, health, parent support, child care and other critical resources into coordinated services that improve the education, health and developmental outcomes for California’s youngest children. Over the last seven years, Perry effectively helped shape one of the nation’s largest and most complex early childhood systems, bringing stakeholders together with a shared vision for ensuring that all children grow up healthy and ready to succeed in school and in life. She also built First 5 California into one of the country’s most well-known and respected early childhood advocacy organizations.

“I am honored to be joining FFYF and look forward to expanding awareness of the economic and social benefits of high-quality early learning for children and our entire society,” said Perry. “FFYF has worked tirelessly to reach policymakers, the business and philanthropic communities, educators and parents to help them understand that education starts at birth and the success of our country’s youngest children is vital to the economic future of our nation, especially during times of hardship. As executive director, I will use the best research and FFYF’s diverse network of partners to demonstrate the economic imperative of investing in our nation’s greatest resource–our children.”

The organization she will head, FFYF, was created by a collaboration of key early childhood funders in partnership with the Ounce of Prevention Fund. The funders include some of the country’s leading education foundations, including the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Irving Harris Foundation, George Kaiser Family Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, an anonymous foundation, and the Pritzker Children’s Initiative.

“Kris Perry has long been one of the country’s most dynamic, visionary and dedicated voices in the effort to put early childhood education at the top of our nation’s policy agenda,” said Diana Mendley Rauner, president of the Ounce of Prevention Fund and a member of FFYF’s executive policy council. “Her bold leadership of the First Five Years Fund will surely create a lasting impact and brighter futures for young children and families nationwide.”

FFYF’s philanthropic partners praised the selection of Perry to lead the organization. “The first five years of life are the first five years of learning,” said Susan A. Buffett, chair of the Buffett Early Childhood Fund. “The First Five Years Fund is working to make sure more and more people get that message, and embrace that message when shaping early childhood policies that produce better education, health and economic outcomes for all. And I can’t think of anyone better prepared and better suited than Kris Perry to lead this important initiative at this time.”

Similarly, “First Five Years Fund’s nationwide efforts have inspired policymakers, foundations and business leaders to make young children and their families top priorities, especially those most vulnerable,” said Sterling Speirn, president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which partners with communities to ensure all children have access to high-quality early childhood experiences. “Kris is a passionate, accomplished leader who has an impressive track record of mobilizing communities in support of early learning, and we are delighted that she will serve the First Five Years Fund as its next executive director.”

Perry joins FFYF having demonstrated extensive strategic advocacy experience at the intersection of policy and social services. She led First 5 California through its strategy planning processes and focused on funding evidence-based programs that achieved results for children, teachers and parents. Perry also oversaw First 5 California’s highly successful Power of Preschool program that made quality preschool available to children birth to age 5, as well as the Kit for New Parents program, which provides all first-time California parents with free parenting information kits available in six languages. In addition, Perry served as the co-chair of the State Early Learning Advisory Council and played a pivotal role in bringing the Educare model of high-quality early childhood centers to California.

Prior to joining First 5 California, Perry was executive director of First 5 San Mateo County. Her deep commitment to at-risk children and families is rooted in her experiences as a social worker at the Alameda County Social Services Agency, where she worked for more than 12 years as a child abuse investigator, family preservation case manager and program manager.

Perry holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a master’s in social work from San Francisco State University. She is a licensed clinical social worker and holds a postgraduate certificate as a service integration specialist.