February 8, 2017

Introducing our new Executive Director, Donna Jacobson

by McCormick Center


A dedicated and enthusiastic nonprofit professional, Donna has served for more than 20 years in the fields of child welfare and early learning. As a leader, she is extremely passionate about empowering staff, providing opportunities for growth, team building, and creating an atmosphere of support, trust, and mutual respect. She has a strong talent for establishing and strengthening systems, increasing staff and organizational performance, and managing day-to-day operations without losing sight of the “big picture.”

Donna’s values embody our vision for our Executive Director—an innovative, forward-thinking individual who provides vision and leadership for the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership at National Louis University. In her new role, which began January 9, Donna oversees the operations of the McCormick Center, including financial management, grant writing, fund development, and building public and board relations; identifies and recruits new talent as needed; oversees staff development activities to enhance organizational performance; nourishes existing partnerships and develops new opportunities; and maps a course of action to achieve the McCormick Center’s vision. Donna will work closely with Teri Talan, Michael W. Louis Chair and Senior Policy Advisor, to passionately and articulately espouse the mission of the McCormick Center and lead the way in driving and responding to external trends, issues, and forces that shape early childhood leadership.

Donna’s advocacy for children and social change began as a social worker in Illinois, working with at-risk children and families. She continued her career in California, at one of California’s oldest child welfare organization, where she emerged as a top strategic thinker and leader, with a clear voice and the ability to unite teams and surpass goals. In 2013, Donna was promoted to the top leadership position and became responsible for all aspects of the agency, including: program and revenue development, management of a $65M endowment, and oversight of operations in eight statewide offices, 125+ staff, and an operating budget of over $60M.

As President, Donna immediately infused social work ethics and values into early learning and education services while promoting best practices in programs and operations. She focused on expanding services to at-risk communities and strengthened the agency’s commitment to quality assurance and staff development. Within two years, under her careful guidance and leadership, two new offices opened and the agency budget increased over 10%. Ms. Jacobson’s most cherished accomplishments include creating a Best Practices and Outcomes Department and opening a Family Resource Center in East Oakland.

Please join us in welcoming and congratulating Donna. She can be reached at djacobson6@nl.edu.

About the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership at National Louis University:

At the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership, we empower individuals to build the leadership and management skills they need to create and sustain exemplary programs for young children. Through professional development, evaluation, research, and public awareness, we promote best practice in program administration. By working with states, professional organizations, and directly with early childhood practitioners, we raise the bar on program quality. Because, when it comes to early childhood education, leadership really does matter.

Founded in 1985, the McCormick Center builds on National Louis University’s 128-year history of accomplishments in the field of early childhood education. From its founding as a vital force in the kindergarten movement of the 1880’s, NLU has remained rooted in educational progressivism and dedicated to advocacy for children and social change. The McCormick Center is committed to these same ideals.