Early Childhood Education program starts year with new leader

Smiling woman with shoulder-length hair

Dr. Kathy Lawton, an experienced educator with both professional and personal connections to central Ohio’s disability and early intervention communities, has begun her new role as Director of Early Childhood Education at the Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

“I was really excited for the opportunity to make an impact at the county level,” Lawton said when asked about why she sought the job with FCBDD. “I am a huge advocate of early intervention.”

Before joining FCBDD, Lawton previously served as the Director of Early Childhood Education at the Ohio State University Nisonger Center, Assistant Professor of Special Education with OSU, Special Education Coordinator across all Upper Arlington school buildings, and, most recently, the Director of Burbank Early Childhood School (BECS) at Upper Arlington City Schools. She launched its first inclusive preschool model and significantly expanded the city’s peer modeling program for young learners.

On a personal level, Lawton’s family helped to found the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio (DSACO) to advocate for her brother and so many other families in the region. She remains active across Ohio on multiple statewide boards devoted to inclusion and early intervention.

Lawton received her PhD in Education from UCLA after earning multiple degrees at Vanderbilt University in Special Education, Child Development, and Psychology as an Ingram Scholar.

“Kathy brings positive energy, confidence, curiosity, and a ‘big picture’ approach to her new role,” FCBDD Superintendent/CEO Dot Yeager said. 

She replaces Rebecca Love, who retired at the end of 2023 after more than 50 years with the agency and three decades directing the Early Childhood Education program. “I know that I’m leaving things in very good hands,” Love said.

Lawton began working alongside Love this past fall. Lawton said she is impressed by the “many talented and dedicated staff at ECE” and has been “particularly touched by the difference that the ECE program makes for so many young lives and families across our community.”