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Celebrating a Longtime Supporter of Start Early, Lula M. Ford

In honor of Start Early’s 40th birthday, we celebrate Board Member Lula M. Ford and her contributions to the early childhood field and our organization’s impact over the years.

March 9, 2023
  • Start Early Stories
  • Blog

For more than a decade, Lula M. Ford has served on Start Early’s Board of Directors, contributing to the organization’s growth and impact on families with young children across the country. While Ford joined the Start Early leadership team in 2009, her impact on and experience in the field of early education spans decades, particularly playing a monumental role in expanding opportunities for children and families throughout Chicagoland.

Celebrating 40 Years of Changemaking

Start Early is 40! Early childhood education and care has changed dramatically in America over the past four decades, and Start Early has always been at the forefront of that change.

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Lula M. Ford, Start Early Board MemberFord was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, before relocating to Chicago in the late 1960s. From there, after completing two master’s degrees from Northeastern University and the University of Illinois, she began her career in education. She started as a teacher at Horner Elementary School, and eventually became the Principal of Beethoven Elementary School in the early 1990s.

It was around that time that Ford started to take notice of the work being done in early education by Start Early (known as The Ounce of Prevention Fund at that time).

“I met with [Start Early founder] Irving Harris at that time, so when they decided to start Educare Chicago, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I’ve really been connected with this organization for over 20 years,” Ford shared.

Ford said that it’s been amazing to be a part of an organization that invests in children and their futures.

“We at Start Early believe in quality services,” Ford said. “That has always been my focus, providing quality services for children and families, and I am so proud of Start Early. It’s been amazing to see how we’ve spread nationally, and that’s been very rewarding for me, to see that we are interested in the education of children who are under-served.”

It’s been amazing to see how we’ve spread nationally, and that’s been very rewarding for me, to see that we are interested in the education of children who are under-served.

Lula M. Ford, Start Early Board Member
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As for the next 40 years, Ford knows there’s more work to be done to ensure equitable opportunities for our youngest learners.

“Let’s continue to be a diverse staff, that is so important,” Ford said when asked about her vision for Start Early in the next four decades. “We’re on the right track, and we have an outstanding leader in Diana Rauner, and I can’t wait to see what we do.”

Help Start Early Celebrate 40 Years of Impact

Birthdays are a time for reflection, hope and looking to the future—join us in giving a gift that gives back this year to celebrate our birthday and your own, or a loved one’s.

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