Autumn Adkins Graves was sworn in as the new Head of School at Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga Thursday morning.

In Graves' remarks Thursday, she said "My name is Autumn Joy Adkins Graves and I am the 7th Head of School. I proudly proclaim that I will lead like a girl!"

"My dad was raised to believe men and women are intellectual equals."

Graves most recently served as president of Girard College, an independent boarding school for students grades 1-12 in Philadelphia. She also previously served as upper school dean of students at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. She is currently a doctoral candidate in higher education management at the University of Pennsylvania.  While Graves's chief responsibilities throughout her career have been in school administration, she has also taught United States History and Health and Wellness and has served as a student advisor and coach.

She grew up in Richmond, Va., and completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia. She holds a master's degree from Columbia University and is currently a doctoral candidate in higher education management at the University of Pennsylvania.

Her husband, R. Vann Graves, serves as executive vice president and global executive creative director of McCann Worldgroup, a leading global advertising and communications firm headquartered in New York City.

Named O Magazine's Woman to Watch for the Decade in 2010, she was an NAIS Edward E. Ford Fellow for Emerging Leaders and the recipient of a Klingenstein Center Fellowship at Columbia University's Teachers College.  

In accepting the GPS appointment, Graves said, "The first time I met with the search committee, I could feel GPS's genuine commitment to preparing young girls to be strong, educated, independent, thoughtful women who are equipped to be civic and professional leaders in the 21st century. This commitment resonates with me personally and professionally, and I am excited to join a school community that truly believes in educating the whole girl and values the teaching of respect and responsibility through discovery and with excellence."


Graves is the successor to Dr. Sue Groesbeck who has served as interim Head of School since the recent retirement of Randy Tucker. Tucker died in an automobile accident not long after his retirement.