Autumn Graves Named New Head of School at GPS

Thursday, December 5, 2013
Autumn Graves
Autumn Graves

The Board of Trustees of Girls Preparatory School has announced the appointment of Autumn Adkins Graves as its next Head of School, effective July 1, 2014.

The board’s unanimous decision "followed the enthusiastic and unanimous recommendation of the Search Committee," which was “captivated by her warmth, intelligence and passion for education,” according to Board Chair Nini Davenport. “The Board of Trustees searched for 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 locally, nationally, and globally while upholding our high level of academic standards. [In Autumn,] we found all of this, and more,” said Ms. Davenport in a letter to alumnae, parents, students, and friends of the School.

A nationally-recognized educator, Ms. Graves brings years of educational leadership to GPS. 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 Ms. Graves’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 and coach.

Named O Magazine’s Woman to Watch for the Decade in 2010, she was an NAIS Edward E. Ford Fellow for Emerging Leaders and the recipient of a Klingenstein Center Fellowship at Columbia University’s Teachers College.  

In accepting the GPS appointment, Ms. Graves said, “The first time I met with the search committee, I could feel GPS’s genuine commitment to preparing young girls to be strong, educated, independent, thoughtful women who are equipped to be civic and professional leaders in the 21st century. This commitment resonates with me personally and professionally, and I am excited to join a school community that truly believes in educating the whole girl and values the teaching of respect and responsibility through discovery and with excellence.”

Having grown up in Richmond, Virginia, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia and her master’s degree at Columbia University. Her husband, R. Vann Graves, is the executive vice president and global executive creative director of McCann Worldgroup, a leading global advertising and communications firm based in New York City. 

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