Cathy Gilford Atkins (BS 1979 Early Childhood Education) has devoted her life to putting into practice the principles of early childhood development, working first as a classroom teacher and, after earning a master’s degree in education from National Louis University, Chicago, serving as an early childhood consultant and adjunct faculty at several Chicago area colleges. She is a recognized expert in child development theory and early childhood education, with expertise in curriculum development, parent education and staff development. Her experiences encompass more than three decades of wide-ranging and in-depth applications including classroom teaching, teacher training, consulting and co-directing a large early childhood program. Cathy has been trainer, coach and mentor to college students, first-year teachers and veteran staff. She has helped first time and experienced parents gain confidence in their parenting skills. Cathy and husband Dr. Edward M. Atkins (BA 1975 Political Science; MD 1980) have resided in the Chicago area for more than 30 years. They are the proud parents of two children, Lisa and David. Recognizing the importance of teacher retention in Human Ecology’s Preschool, Cathy and Ed are the first to establish a teacher excellence fund to support professional development and opportunities for mentoring student interns.