Autumn Graves

Head of School
Girls Preparatory School
Autumn Graves Headshot

Autumn Adkins Graves has established herself as a leader within the education sector for almost 25 years. Known as a change agent focused on student experience and outcomes that balance the institution’s resource management and productivity, Graves has managed large-scale program and curricular metamorphoses.

With a rhetoric and history degree from the University of Virginia, a master’s degree in private school leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University (NY), and a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania, Graves has held significant leadership roles at Mercersburg Academy (PA), Breck School (MN), Sidwell Friends (D.C.), Friends Seminary (NY), and Girard College (PA). Currently she serves as the head of Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Upon finishing her dissertation, which explored community engagement programs within private colleges, Graves recommitted herself to the development of curricular and co-curricular programs that demonstrate the public purpose of private education. Additionally, Graves moved into a second area of research interest: the preparation of girls for an innovative economy and public service.

Equally important to her work in schools is her commitment to community. A Leadership Philadelphia alumna, Graves was an active member of the Junior League for more than a decade and served on the World Class Education and Talent Development Strategy Team for World Class Greater Philadelphia. She has leveraged her nonprofit management and education experiences to serve as a trustee for several organizations, including the Philadelphia Film Office, an economic development nonprofit; the Public Health Management Corporation; the Library Company of Philadelphia; and the Shipley School in Bryn Mawr.

As a community member of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and advocate for education, women, and children, Graves serves on the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Chancellor’s Advisory Roundtable and as a trustee for the Tennessee Association of Independent Schools, Creative Discovery Museum, The Head’s Network, and Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga.

Graves is married to R. Vann Graves, chief creative officer for J. Walter Thompson-Atlanta. She and her husband have a son and daughter.