Kara Waddell

Kara Waddell brings a unique executive skillset and range of experience to leading a nonprofit of scale. She’s dedicated to the cause of early learning and passionate about developing the best possible educational system in Tarrant County. She plays a key role in improving programs; advising state, municipal, and school leaders about early education; developing educators, and encouraging policies that have a positive impact on children and families.

Under her leadership, Child Care Associates is becoming a national leader for early learning and child development. Two of three children receiving child care subsidies in Tarrant County are now in quality-rated child care programs, and classrooms are externally assessed to reach research-based thresholds for quality. In addition, Kara negotiated to ensure Head Start teachers in Pre-K classroomsreceived compensation parity with public school teachers. She also served as the founding Chair of the Early Learning Alliance.

Kara came to CCA and Fort Worth in 2014, bringing a rich and diverse experience in nonprofit and public management. She was a state executive, led Oregon’s child care and early learning system, and served on Oregon’s Early Learning Council.

Proficient in Mandarin Chinese, Kara lived in China for 12 years, where she served families in extreme poverty as the Country Director for a large, U.S. NGO focused on outcomes for children.

Kara holds a Master in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where she was also a Fellow in Philanthropy at Harvard’s Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organization. She graduated cum laude with a BA in developmental psychology from Duke University.