Director of Early Childhood Initiatives – North Chicago

Gail Nelson is the Director of Early Childhood Initiatives for the Steans Family Foundation, North Chicago team.  She works with Early Childhood providers and leaders to ensure high quality options for families in North Chicago.  Previous to her work at SFF, she served in the Illinois Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD) as the Quality Recognition and Improvement System Policy Director.  Prior to that, and for over two decades, Gail served as Executive Director of the Carole Robertson Center for Learning, leading the agency through growth and development from a single site to three, and through its transition to a multi-cultural, nationally-accredited organization.

Gail attended the University of Illinois at Chicago, graduating with a B.A. in Political Science and earned her M.A. with a concentration in Community Development and Organization from the University of Chicago. Gail considers her career a very happy accident, as she never studied early childhood education (she meant to go to law school J).  She is happy she didn’t, and is grateful for the wisdom and expertise of all the parents and children, colleagues and mentors, advocates and rabble-rousers — from the west side and throughout the state — who provided her with such excellent on-the-job training.  She lives with her husband and enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren.