April 26, 2024

Lisa Downey assumes the role of Executive Director of the McCormick Institute for Early Childhood

by McCormick Center Staff

The McCormick Center will soon be housed in the McCormick Institute for Early Childhood as the Center for Early Childhood Leadership. The Institute, which will launch in late Fall 2024, will expand access, equity, and innovation within the early childhood education (ECE) sector. With this important work and transition already underway, Lisa Downey, Ed.D., has assumed the role of Executive Director of the McCormick Institute for Early Childhood.

Though new to this role, Dr. Downey is a familiar face at National Louis University (NLU) and in the ECE field. She most recently served as the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Educator Preparation at NLU, where she grew the program from just under 200 students to over 1500 and secured over 13 million dollars in grant funding. The program is designed to support teacher candidates from underrepresented communities and the incumbent Early Childhood workforce.

Since starting at NLU in 2011, she has also held the roles/ranks of field coach, adjunct professor, Assistant Professor, and Associate Professor. Dr. Downey has spent over 30 years working in the field of education in roles such as Early Childhood Teacher, Child Care Center Director, Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) Resource Developer, Training Coordinator, and Director of Provider Services at Illinois Action for Children, where she oversaw a multi-million-dollar program across eight sites in Cook County.

In her admittedly limited free time, Dr. Downey said she enjoys puzzling and reading romance and historical fiction novels. Her home is a bustling one: she lives with her wife, two German Shepherd mutts, three cats, and two teenagers. The dogs are siblings, the cats are siblings, and her children are not only siblings but paternal twins.

Dr. Downey reminisced that, when they were growing up, her children often asked her if she knew the people she would converse with in public. She’d have to say “No, I’m just making friends,” because that’s what she does; Dr. Downey knows everyone has a story to tell, so she is open and loves meeting new people. She said she is a very relationship-based leader.

“Lisa is the type of leader who is committed to developing and supporting those around her,” said McCormick Center Managing Director Kimberlee Hendricks. “I’m really excited about all that we will learn and the ways that we will be able to contribute with her at the helm.”