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Work experience

Jul 2009Jun 2012


Girard College
  • Served as chief executive officer for 165-year-old, 100% scholarship, 1-12 boarding school for 500 children who come from families struggling with poverty
  • Directed 190 staff and a $21.5 million operating budget
  • Motivated and guided an eight-person senior leadership team in moving curricular, co-curricular, fundraising and facilities management into the 21st century
  • Provided visionary leadership for academic and residential program growth
  • Reported to three governance boards and managed the relationship with three collective bargaining units
  • Worked collaboratively with the Girard College Alumni Association (a separate non-profit) and the Girard Estate (a quasi-government agency) in the management of the school’s resources and fundraising


  • Navigated complex staff restructuring that included challenging layoffs due to investment income shortfalls and uninformed enrollment management plans
  • Led restructuring of Board of Managers bylaws and committee purpose and constitution
  • Built fundraising infrastructure and staffing to implement a program that led to over $850,000 in grant support, the largest amount raised from a single special event ($523,000) and an increase in individual leadership gifts of $1,000 and more for the annual fund
  • Raised personal and professional accountability expectations for staff
  • Oversaw the redesign of communications strategy that included a new logo, website, and social media campaign and raised profile in Philadelphia region’s philanthropic and business communities
  • Revitalized Department Chair position to be one of curricular development and teacher leadership
  • Supported the overhaul of Security, Laundry, Technology, College Counseling and Government Grant departments along with driving transformation of science, language and history curricula
  • Initiated and co-facilitated robust strategic planning process with two boards that utilized an outside strategy firm to create viable solutions to school’s financial problems and program inadequacies
  • Co-designed first union contract negotiation strategy to include changes to work rules that were integrated into compensation and program quality
  • Birthed Fit Campus initiative that involved a revolution in the food services program, the opening of the Girard College Community Garden, creation of Fit Clubs and partnering with Farm to Families
  • Addressed the communication and volunteer needs of parents with the creation of the Family Association
  • Developed the Community Partnership office to coordinate with the more than 200 companies, individuals, social service agencies, volunteers, and other organizations that enhance student curricular and co-curricular experiences
  • Created the concept of a Young Alumni Support Program and secured funding to implement and hire director
  • Instituted E3: Extended Educational Experience, an afterschool activities and evening academic support program that complements academics and teaches life skills
  • Engaged staff and community groups in a manner that has increased Girard’s diversity applicant acceptance rate to 36% of incoming students, compared to 5-10% over the past 10 years
  • Provided guidance in the selection, implementation and conversion process for a new student information system
Jul 2003Jun 2009

Assistant Principal

Friends Seminary
  • Assisted the principal in the overall operation of a 670-student, K-12 school served by 175 faculty and staff
  • Provided direct leadership and supervision of Extended Programs, Community Service Program, Diversity Team, Technology Department, Support Services, Nurse’s Office and Athletic Department
  • Managed program and personnel budgets totaling more than $2.3 million annually
  • Oversaw the spending of 15 endowed funds; provided information on use to Development Office
  • Co-led School Committee’s Strategic Planning Committee; served as staff liaison to School Committee and its Personnel and Finance Committees, and served on Lift Every Voice Capital Campaign Committee
  • Worked closely with PTA leadership to design opportunities and programs that communicate and further the school’s mission
  • Coordinated various facets of faculty/staff hiring, evaluation and development
  • Assessed, facilitated and coordinated most internal/external communications and documents, including monthly e-newsletter, school website, Faculty/Staff Handbook and calendars
  • Designed and executed emergency plan and drills
  • Taught grade 11 United States History (2006-2008) and grade 6 Health and Wellness (2003-2006, 2008-2009)
  • Served as Director of Technology (2004-2005), Director of Diversity (2007-2009), and Library-Media Department Chair (2004) during staffing transitions


  • Created original evaluation processes for senior administration and support staff to promote professional development and accountability
  • Assessed and reconfigured purpose, job descriptions and personnel of Technology Department, Diversity Team, Community Service Office and Support Services Office
  • Co-led NYSAIS self-study and accreditation process, which culminated in March 2007 visit
  • Co-clerked Diversity Working Group’s year-long diversity assessment. Committee was comprised of School Committee members, faculty, parents and administrators. Chief author of 100-page final report
  • Led search committees for Director of Finance and Operations, US/MS Counselor, Director of Library Services, Director of Technology and Director of Community Service and participated on Athletic Director and Director of Development Search Committees
Jun 2000Jun 2003

Upper School Dean

Sidwell Friends School
  • Shaped student behavior and upheld community standards for 460 students in grades 9-12, collaborating regularly with administrators, faculty, students and parents to resolve a myriad of emotional, academic and behavioral issues
  • Assisted divisional principal with short- and long-term management and leadership initiatives that involved faculty, students, and parents
  • Coordinated the division’s Professional Development Program and maintained $38,000 annual budget
  • Served as commencement coordinator; grade 11 United States History teacher; Freshman Studies teacher; advisor for 13 students; and member of Admissions Committee and search committees for Upper School Principal and Director of Finance


  • Developed, implemented and maintained first divisional emergency action plan; effectively addressed, with senior administration, 9/11, anthrax scare and sniper attacks
  • Redesigned and implemented two-year Faculty/Staff Induction Program
  • Advised student staff that produced an award-winning yearbook; significantly enhanced meaningful student ownership and professionalism of the publication; managed $50,000 budget including advertisement sales

Upper School Counselor and Community Service Coordinator

Breck School
  • Counseled students struggling with various academic, emotional and physical issues; communicated with parents, teachers, staff and outside clinicians about student needs and situations for 370 students in grades 9-12
  • Chaired Internalizing Values-Global Issues Committee for ISACS self-study; taught grade 11 United States History; advised 12 students; assisted in general leadership of Upper School


  • Created, launched and established community service program for students and faculty members to serve 24 different Minneapolis organizations on a weekly basis; formed and maintained relationships with all sites and organized complex transportation plan
  • Developed and implemented a student leadership program to carry out the service program’s philosophy and teach leadership and management skills; empowered student leaders to create a service-learning curriculum for students and faculty

Director of Special Programs

Mercersburg Academy
  • Programmed social, cultural, community service and academic activities for 380 residential students
  • Maintained budgets in excess of $36,000, including endowed funds
  • Served as dorm parent, girls varsity assistant soccer coach, United States History teacher, advisor and member of Board of Trustees’ Residential Planning Steering Group


  • Led faculty and student committees to organize first Community Day and Diversity Day
  • Increased student involvement in social activities by 40%; created leadership group to plan and promote student-directed programs


Aug 2012Present


University of Pennsylvania
Aug 1999May 2000


Teachers College, Columbia University
Aug 1990May 1994


The University of Virginia


Travel, Entertaining, Cooking


A graduate of Columbia University’s masters program with specialized training in Private School Leadership, Autumn Graves has brought substantial and innovative changes to each of the academic institutes that she has served. Graves’ skill with operational process changes has dramatically improved efficiency for many of her employers, while her focus on nutrition and civic engagement has enhanced the quality of life for the student body under her administrations.In addition to her visionary skills as an administrator, Autumn Graves wields a noted talent for fundraising. In her most recent position as the Principal of Girard College in Philadelphia, Graves raised $523,000 with just one event, the largest sum ever acquired by the school in a single fundraiser. She also implemented substantial changes to Girard’s donation protocol, consequently securing $850,000 in grant funding.In addition to financial acumen, Autumn Graves has brought a firm commitment to philanthropy to each of her administrative positions. At Girard, she launched a Community Partnerships Office to encourage student volunteerism. During a prior position with the Breck School of Minneapolis, she established a community service program that paired staff and students with more than 20 local organizations. She instituted similar changes at Pennsylvania’s Mercersburg Academy, where she coordinated the school’s inaugural Community and Diversity Days. Autumn Graves’ leadership programs at Mercersburg increased student social involvement by 40%.Autumn Graves’ repertoire of professional achievements has attracted recognition from a variety of sources. She has earned such prestigious awards as the Albert G. Oliver Partner of the Year and the 2010 Powershift Award for Educational Leadership. More recently, her performance has garnered Autumn Graves a place on such lists as Philadelphia Magazine’s “Women of Influence,” O Magazine’s “Women to Watch for the Decade,” and Philadelphia Business Journal’s “40 under 40.” Autumn Graves has also been selected for fellowships sponsored by the Klingenstein Center and the National Association of Independent Schools.