Chris Whitmire is the director of early childhood education for Lewis Cass Intermediate School District in southwest Michigan. She leads a staff of 25 with educational programs for young children in the county who experience various barriers to learning. Whitmire has a master's degree in early childhood/elementary education and is a licensed building administrator, PreK-12. She has worked in the field of education for over 25 years, continually building her skills as an educator, a family advocate and a visionary leader. She founded a NAEYC-accredited school for young children in northern Indiana, the Early Learning Center, the first in the area to feature a Nature Explore-certified outdoor classroom. In the 1970s, Whitmire attended Grand Rapids Zoo School, a project-based, environmental school, where she experienced the convergence of nature and education in a public setting designed to challenge existing paradigms of thinking and learning. She views the Zoo School as one catalyst for her lifelong passions: young children, equitable learning and nature. Whitmire is also one of the eight conveners for the newly launched ROW Initiative featured in Exchange.