As president of the Ounce of Prevention Fund, Diana Mendley Rauner advocates for young children and families in poverty and runs highly regarded schools for children from birth to age five. At SESP Convocation on June 15, Rauner will speak to an audience of SESP graduates who have similar ambitions to improve people’s lives through policies and programs. Her work and words may inspire them as they set out for a new stage of their own lives.
Rauner has deep policy and programmatic expertise in the area of early childhood education. Ounce of Prevention is seen as a force in advancing early childhood education as a prominent issue on the national front. Before she became president last year, Rauner served as executive director and board member.
In those roles, Rauner oversaw the expansion of the Ounce's Early Head Start program and the advocacy work to preserve state funding for early childhood programs in Illinois. She has also started a number of training and research initiatives at the Ounce.
Before she joined the Ounce of Prevention Fund, Rauner was a senior research associate at Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago. There she worked with public agencies and private foundations to evaluate programs that support early childhood development. Rauner, who has a background in investment banking and private equity, previously worked for private equity investment firms in Chicago and San Francisco. She holds a PhD in developmental psychology from the University of Chicago, an MBA from Stanford University and a BA from Yale University.
The Ounce of Prevention Fund describes its work as giving 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, is regarded as a model for narrowing the academic achievement gap for low-income children, and Educare Schools have been established across the country. 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 related to the early childhood field.
One SESP connection is that SESP professor Lindsay Chase-Lansdale has collaborated with the Ounce of Prevention Fund in research to investigate ways to boost postsecondary education among young, low-income parents. The student planning committee for Convocation selected Rauner as the speaker.