Diana Rauner


Start Early

Diana Mendley Rauner, Ph. D., learned early from her parents the importance of participating in the community. As a young adult, Diana spent time volunteering at a settlement house in New York to help teach ex-offenders to read. After witnessing the education inequities in our country first-hand, she realized this was an issue she wanted to focus on long term. Today, Diana serves as president of Start Early, a nonprofit public-private partnership that advances quality early learning and care for families with children, before birth through their earliest years, to help close the opportunity gap.

Start Early develops direct center-based and home-based programs and services to children and families, provides professional development tools and trainings, and champions effective public policies and funding. Start Early is also the home of the Office of Head Start’s National Center for Parent, Family and Community Engagement and the parent organization of the First Five Years Fund, an advocacy and communications effort focused on Washington, DC. In partnership with the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, Start Early has built the Educare Learning Network, starting with one school on the south side of Chicago to a national network of 25 schools sharing and scaling best practices.

Prior to joining Start Early, Diana was a Senior Research Associate at Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago and an associate at private equity firms in San Francisco and Chicago. Diana holds a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of Chicago, an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a B.A. from Yale University. She and her husband, former Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, are blessed with six children and one grandchild.