Cheryl Polk is a psychologist specializing in early childhood development and works to increase the accessibility of community resources to underserved populations. She has a long record of success in translating scholarly research about the first five years of life into programs that address the continuum of young children's needs. In November 2013, she became president of the HighScope Educational Research Foundation. Previously, as executive director of the Lisa and John Pritzker Family Fund, Polk parlayed her dual expertise in early childhood development and philanthropy to guide the creation of groundbreaking intervention programs for children exposed to community and interpersonal trauma.
Polk's understanding of the African-American experience has translated to a commitment to children of all cultural backgrounds. As executive director of the Mimi and Peter Haas Fund, she led the creation of an initiative to raise the standard of services for young Palestinian and Bedouin children by training early childhood providers to help promote father involvement and enhance the mother-child relationship.
Polk has also served as president of the board of directors of Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families, and she completed an eight-year appointment to the San Francisco Children and Families Commission, a statewide initiative designed to increase access and raise the quality of services for young children in California.
She holds a PhD in psychology from Alliant International University-San Francisco and has received many awards, including the National Leadership Fellowship from the Kellogg Foundation and was a Salzburg Fellow for early childhood development. She is licensed to practice psychology in California and Michigan.