SANTA FE ― Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Wednesday that Elizabeth Groginsky will be the first secretary of the new Early Childhood Education and Care Department.
Groginsky comes to New Mexico from Washington, D.C., where she has been assistant superintendent of early learning for the District of Columbia since 2014. In that role, she administered a $160 million annual budget that funded programs to ensure equal access to quality services for the District’s most vulnerable children and their families.
The District of Columbia was first in the nation in 2009 to pursue universal pre-K and today has the highest U.S. participation rate, with 85 percent of all 4-year-olds and 75 percent of 3-year-olds.
“As we interviewed terrific candidates, Elizabeth clearly stood out as an innovator with experience leading a large organization with goals similar to ours,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “She was unequaled in both experience and passion and has a demonstrated record of getting results. I am confident she will deliver on putting our youngest on the path to success.”
Creating the Early Childhood Education and Care Department was one of the highest-profile outcomes of the 2019 legislative session. The new Cabinet-level department will bring programs for children from prenatal to age 5 all under one roof to maximize resources and develop a comprehensive plan for early childhood education.
“I am honored to serve Gov. Lujan Grisham, a visionary leader who is committed to collaboration and coordination, equity and quality for all New Mexican families and young children,” Groginsky said. “I am passionate about building comprehensive early childhood systems that improve outcomes for young children and engage families as key decision-makers. I have always loved New Mexico, and I am thrilled to serve as its first-ever secretary of the Early Childhood Education and Care Department.”
Groginsky has more than two decades of executive leadership experience administering public and private human service organizations at the national, state and local levels.
Among other things, she directed early childhood education for United Way Worldwide, where she helped expand the number of communities collecting and using population-based early childhood data; and she was the first executive director of the Early Childhood Data Collaborative, a national coalition to improve state policies and practices in the development and use of early childhood data systems.
Groginsky earned a master’s degree in social sciences from the University of Colorado at Denver and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland.
Her experience with Head Start programs is extensive: She began as a family services coordinator, later administered a county program and then directed the Head Start Collaboration Office for Colorado. She is currently overseeing one of only eight state Early Head Start Child Care Partnership grants.
“Elizabeth’s track record in raising quality speaks to her longtime commitment to children and her experience working in partnership with diverse communities,” said Carla D. Thompson Payton, vice president for program strategy at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.