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Obituary: Dawn Moses

Moses, a mother, wife, friend and tenacious advocate for homeless children and families, died Wednesday, June 6. She was 46.

, of Arlington, June 6, 2012, age 46, following a long illness. Dawn was a loving mother, wife, friend and tenacious advocate for homeless children and families, fiercely committed to solving public policy issues around the interrelatedness of homelessness, poverty, trauma, and mental illness.

Born and raised in Princeton, New Jersey, Dawn remained in her hometown to attend Princeton University, where her father, Robert Jahn, is Professor of Aerospace Science and Dean, Emeritus. Her mother, the late Catherine Seibert Jahn, was an early childhood educator who taught at the University League Nursery School.

Dawn graduated from Princeton in 1988 with a degree in History and received a certificate in Women’s Studies, when she moved to Washington, DC, where she had spent summers while in college engaged in a range of public service oriented internships. She worked for two years at the National Institute of Mental Health, where she served as Special Assistant to the Director of the Office of Programs for the Homeless Mentally Ill.

In 1991, Dawn entered the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed a Master of Public Affairs degree, having written a thesis on the functionality and success of the Texas Medicaid system.

Upon completion of her graduate degree, Dawn returned to Washington and the National Institute of Mental Health, again taking up policy issues related to the homeless mentally ill. In 1994, she was summoned to the Office of the Vice President of the United States to work as a policy advisor to Mrs. Tipper Gore, who was and remains a staunch advocate for recognition of mental illness as a real and significant public health issue.

In 1995, Dawn moved with her husband to Massachusetts, where she began work with the non-profit organization the National Center on Family Homelessness (formerly the Better Homes Fund) a leading voice in the country for homeless children and families.  As Vice President of the National Center on Family Homelessness for approximately fifteen years, she worked to prevent and end this tragic problem and to ensure that no child in America would spend even one night on the streets. She developed practice guidelines for programs serving homeless families; she was one of the pioneers in helping programs provide trauma-informed care and services that met the needs of the children. In addition, Dawn understood the policy issues and knew how to move the dialogue forward, helping to create  "America's Youngest Outcasts: State Report Card on the Status of Homeless Children".

Dawn’s commitment to public service extended to the local level, as exemplified by her membership on the board of directors of the Arlington Education Foundation, which makes grants to fund educational initiatives within the Arlington Public School system.

Dawn was a great friend, colleague, and mentor to many.  She managed the delicate balance of work and life with grace, valuing above all family and friends while remaining fully committed to her call to public service. Dawn was the thoughtful and loving mother of two children, Georgia and Henry, and wife of eighteen years of James Moses. In addition to them, Dawn is survived by her father, Robert Jahn of Princeton and her siblings, Eric and Jill Jahn, also of Princeton, and Nina Gustin, of Greenwich, Connecticut.

A celebration of Dawn’s life will be held at in Arlington on July 14 at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the National Center on Family Homelessness.  For directions or to leave an online condolence please visit www.keefefuneralhome.com.

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