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Happy 207th Birthday, Graham Windham!

By March 15, 2013March 16th, 2022No Comments

It’s Graham Windham’s 207th birthday! We’ve come a long way since our founding on March 15, 1806, and we couldn’t have done it without friends like you. Since the beginning, our work has been driven by members of the community who have been committed to ensuring that every child we serve has a safe home, a loving family, and the resources to succeed in life.


Children with a donkey cart at The Graham School (from the Graham Windham archives)

How It All Began

On this day in 1806, a small group of women, led by Isabella Graham, her daughter Joanna Davie Bethune and Elizabeth Hamilton (widow of Alexander Hamilton) convened at the Tontine City Hotel on Lower Broadway to plan the founding of The Orphan Asylum Society. At the time, many orphans had to live in the City Alms House, and our founders made plans for a home for the children of widows who had passed away, and whose last wish was that their children would be taken care of. They elected a Board of Direction made up entirely of women (at a time when women did not even have the vote), and created a Constitution that stated, “Amongst the afflicted…none makes a stronger or more impressive appeal to humanity than the destitute orphan….The orphans [at the Asylum] shall be educated, fed, and clothed….”

In the intervening years much has changed, as our programs have grown and evolved to keep pace with the changing needs of children and families in our community. However, our founders’ legacy of commitment and perseverance in the service of others continues today, echoing through generations of board members, leaders, staff members, and supporters like you who continue to believe in the mission.

Learn more about our 207-year-long history


Looking to the Future

2013 promises to be a big year at Graham Windham. We have laid out a vision for the future, and have a new leader to guide us toward its realization. Here to introduce our new President & CEO, Jess Dannhauser (who has been with Graham Windham since 2009, and takes over the role of leader from Poul Jensen after his 2012 retirement) is Georgia Wall, who has been on our board for 23 years and has served as the Chairman of the Board for the past 10 years.

“As many of you already know, Jess Dannhauser became Graham Windham’s new President and Chief Executive Officer on January 1, 2013.

“Jess’s appointment to this leadership position marks a new and exciting chapter for Graham Windham. Jess’s commitment to Graham Windham’s mission to create life changing results for the children and families we serve is unwavering. His impressive, keen intellect, broad command of the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, personal ethics, service values and performance mindset are of the highest order. Jess also possesses a personal style that makes him a natural leader with an ability to mobilize and inspire a vast array of stakeholders, including his management team, staff members, Board members and volunteers, to address the challenges we face in a collaborative, honest and effective way. He continues to inspire a performance oriented culture at Graham Windham that is unique in the child welfare world and that is sure to take Graham Windham to the next level of excellence as a service provider.

“Jess came to Graham Windham after several years of impressive service at the Administration for Children’s Services where he served in a variety of challenging positions from Chief of Staff to the Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner in charge of the Office of Agency Program Assistance and, most recently, as Associate Commissioner for Performance Measurement, Monitoring and Improvement.

“Jess received his Bachelor’s Degree from Duke University and his Masters in Social Work at the University of California, Berkeley School of Social Welfare.

“Everyone in the Graham Windham organization is extremely grateful to have Jess at the helm of the organization and very committed to supporting him as he leads his stellar team to do the best job they possibly can to make life altering changes for each child we serve a reality for each one of them. Our children and their families deserve nothing less.”

-Georgia Wall, Chair of the Board


Please join us in welcoming Jess as he takes on the task of building on what our founders and predecessors have created through the love of children, and a ceaseless drive to protect and nurture them.

As we celebrate our 207th, we thank you for being a part of our work in this third century of service. Friends like you are the greatest gift we could ask for on our birthday!

207 thanks for all you do for our children and families!


-The Graham Windham Team


Related Links

Dannhauser Named President of Graham Windham (New York Nonprofit Press, November 30, 2011)

Pictures and video from our 2012 Holiday Party and Danceathon, where kids from our Harlem Beacon after-school program gave Jess a special award to welcome him as our new President & CEO

A Farewell from CEO Poul Jensen