Grace Reef is the President of the Early Learning Policy Group, LLC, a Washington D.C. based government relations group. A veteran political and policy strategist, Grace has more than 25 years of experience working on federal and state policy related to families with children. With 16 years of experience working in the United States Senate, Grace has led all aspects of bill progression.
As a senior policy advisor for Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-ME), Grace handled a broad legislative portfolio ranging from human resources, family and children’s policy, to economic development. She analyzed, drafted, and negotiated legislation, prepared materials for hearings, markups, floor action, and conference committee for income maintenance issues before the Senate Finance Committee and highway issues before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Adept at outreach and bill progression strategy with advocacy groups, Senate and House leadership, committee and personal staff, Grace understands the intricacies of finding common ground to move legislation forward.
While working for Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, Grace played a key role in passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act, the National Affordable Housing Act, Extended Unemployment Compensation legislation and the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act.
As a senior policy advisor to Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), Grace was responsible for issues related to families with children. Key during Grace’s tenure with Senator Daschle was her work with Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and John Breaux (D-LA) to draft a welfare reform bill to unite a fractured Democratic caucus. When the measure was defeated on the Senate floor, Grace negotiated with HHS, OMB, and the White House Domestic Policy Council to pursue inclusion of components of the measure in a bipartisan compromise ultimately enacted in 1996 as part of welfare reform.
Under the leadership of Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Grace was Minority Staff Director of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Children and Families. In this capacity, Grace analyzed, drafted, and negotiated legislation, garnered consensus positions among Senate HELP Committee members, and spearheaded grassroots support for the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) reauthorization, Head Start reauthorization, and child care reauthorization.
Between 2006 and 2013, Grace was the Chief of Policy & Evaluation at the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA), currently doing business as Child Care Aware® of America. As the point person for Child Care Aware® of America’s policy and research, Grace oversaw the development of seven national reports on state child care licensing, the price of child care in the states, and drafted numerous white papers and fact sheets. She served as a key resource to Congressional staff, managed the content for the organization’s national policy symposium (including “Day on the Hill” and "Parents at Symposium"), led onsite state advocacy trainings, fueled state grassroots advocacy capacity and strategy, provided rapid response and policy technical assistance at the state and federal level, developed a broad social networking and on-line advocacy strategy, and drafted a weekly policy blog.
The Early Learning Policy Group focuses on strengthening the quality of child care and early learning at the federal, state, and local levels through policy analysis, strategic thinking and partnership building, effective communication and advocacy approaches, and pursuing alternative financing strategies and best business practices to support early childhood initiatives.