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Chattanooga native Angela Hayes has been named the new Deputy Administrator for the Office of Early Learning (OEL). She will start her new position on Aug. 12. (Courtesy photo)

Chattanooga native Angela Hayes has been named the new director for the city's Office of Early Learning. She will replace Ariel Ford, who has led the office since its inception in 2017.

Ford's last day is Aug. 11, and Hayes will start the following day. Ford has taken a position as the state of North Carolina's director of the Division of Child Development and Early Education.

"Ariel [Ford] has created a clear path and a strong foundation to continue providing important resources for our families," Hayes said. "I'm thrilled for the opportunity to not only build on her work but create a lasting impact for Chattanooga residents."

In her new role, Hayes will be responsible for developing and executing building the capacity of high-quality early learning seats in Chattanooga and leveraging resources to support new and existing programs within Chattanooga, according to city staff.

Hayes has been with the city since 2014. Her new appointment does not require City Council approval.

Before working with the city, Hayes was appointed by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee as a federal probation officer with the Department of Justice.

Hayes said it was then she learned firsthand how early childhood experiences can shape someone's life.

"In that role, I was privy to background information of offenders, from birth to the time of conviction," Hayes said. "One factor that generally came up in their background was the early existence. And it was often very clear that they were deprived of positive early learning."

The mother of two also is involved as the city's Foster Grandparent Program's director. She provided oversight to the program's more than 100 senior citizen volunteers serving as tutors and mentors to early learners in educational settings in Hamilton, Bradley and McMinn counties in Tennessee.

The Office of Early Learning was formed under Mayor Andy Berke in 2017.

Contact Monique Brand at