ABOUT US

BOOST Ambassadors

Our BOOST global street team of advocates and champions.

Elena Arias roundElena Arias, High School Program Manager (she/her/hers)2022 BOOSTer Since badge
After-School All-Stars, Los Angeles, CA

Elena Arias brings over 15 years of experience in the expanded learning field. As a High School Program Manager she has lead a team of individuals who provide a dynamic and supportive program for the youth in the communities of Los Angeles. Elena's passion is to work collaboratively with youth, staff and stakeholders to provide quality services that focus on developing youth and providing them real life experiences. Elena considers herself an everyday learner with a passion to give back.

Rachel Bryant roundRachel Bryant, JAG Regional Manager (she/her/hers)2021 BOOSTer Since badge
Brightpoint JAG, Fort Wayne, IN

As the JAG (Job’s for Americas Graduates) Regional Program Manager for Brightpoint, Rachel oversees 14 programs that provide real-world skills to high school Juniors and Seniors, helping them transition to work, post-secondary, or military after graduation. She is a member of the Leadership Academy with Great Kids make Great Communities, helping Allen County become more trauma-informed. Rachel is also a voting member of the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet Youth Committee.
 
2021 BOOSTer Since badge
Elizabeth Carter roundElizabeth Carter, Director of Strategic Program Initiatives and Special Events (she/her/hers)
After-School All-Stars, Los Angeles, CA
 
Elizabeth creates curriculum and develops professional development for our 4 National Initiatives and Literacy: Sports As A Hook (SAAH) focuses on sports and healthy living, We Are Ready (WAR) focuses on high school readiness and college preparedness, Career Exploration Opportunities (CEO) focuses on teaching students real-life skills as well as exposing them to professionals in the field with CEO Relay Races, Life. Service. Action (LSA) focuses on service-learning and community involvement, and Literacy focuses on reading, reading comprehension, and spelling. She is also in charge of all our organization-wide events as well as continuous quality programming and evaluation. Elizabeth creates and heads committees that assist in the planning process of every event. She works with Claremont Graduate School to timeline our partner surveys and observations and also trains staff in CQI and the observation process.
 
Karina Nicole Castro roundKarina Castro, Operations Director (she/her/hers)2022 BOOSTer Since badge
YMCA of Greater Providence, Providence, RI
 
Karina Castro is the current Operations Director of the Providence Youth Services branch, for the Ymca of Greater Providence in Rhode Island. She moved from Puerto Rico in 2017 after experiencing a catastrophic hurricane. It is here where she found her passion for community support and youth development. Her journey with the Y started in 2019 when she started as a School-Aged Leader and quickly, after 2 years she transitioned to her current role due to her passion for advocacy for the youth.
 
Ana Danielson roundAna Danielson, Program Coordinator (she/her/hers)2021 BOOSTer Since badge
Mono County Office of Education, Mammoth Lakes, CA
 
Ana is responsible for English Language Development training, CAASP & ELPAAC training, and she coordinates Safe Kids Mono partners working closely with First 5 Mono and many other governmental agencies, law enforcement, non-profits, health care providers, and community organizations. Ana coordinates all student activities for the county including spelling bee, science fairs, mock trial, Math Counts, and is currently working to establish a mentor program specifically addressing SEL with the goal to expand student after school programs and participation in student events. Ana is the County TUPE coordinator and works closely with Public Health and Probation to provide education to administrators, teachers, staff, students, parents, and school boards. She teaches adult education Spanish for community members, including many teachers looking to improve their communications with students and families. Ana has many other responsibilities with Mono County and also work with Expanded Learning in Region 8 through the Ventura County Office of Education providing TA to over 270 after school program.
 

Gabriela Delgado roundGabriela Delgado, Senior Manager (she/her/hers)2012 BOOSTer Since badge
San Diego County Office of Education, San Diego, CA

Gabriela has served in education for over 22 years. She currently serves as a Senior Manager for the San Diego County Office of Education. She is well versed in trauma-informed practices; group facilitation; restorative practices; student engagement; and grant development/management. Gabriela has an MA in Education/Counseling from Point Loma Nazarene University and a Master of Public Administration with from San Diego State University. She is the co-host of the 2 Counselors & a Mic podcast, which features stories of everyday people changing the world. She enjoys traveling with her husband and playing catch with their dog, Chiquita.

Susie Estrada roundSusie Estrada, Program Delivery Specialist (she/her/hers)2022 BOOSTer Since badge
Camp Fire National, West Valley, UT

Susie Estrada currently lives in Salt Lake City, UT and works as Camp Fire Nationals Program Delivery Specialist. Previously, Susie has worked as a Program Director, Coordinator, and Preschool Teacher. Susie first moved to Utah in 2014 from the San Fernando Valley in California. Susie graduated from California State University of Northridge with a Bachelors and then went on to receive two masters from the University of Utah in Public Administration and Education, Culture, and Society.

Nathan HoustonNathan Houston, CEO #iAmImpact2018 BOOSTer Since badge

IAMIMPACT, Sacramento, CA

Nathan is the Founder of #iAmImpact as well as the Director of Youth Development in charge of training and Program Engagement for Mentor CA. Nathan loves facilitating workshops to help individuals become better and believes in the power of connectedness. Top Strengths are Connectedness/Context/Strategic/Ideation Adaptability.

Nathan holds over 18 years of experience with Expanded Learning Programs that serve diverse communities in Sacramento and California. Nathan possesses over 5 years of experience as previous Director of Professional Development at the Center for Fathers and Families. In addition, he worked on numerous committees with the California AftersSchool Network and California Department of Education Expanded Learning Division to increase the quality of youth programs. He has conducted trainings and multiple workshops and seminars that have focused on teaching Expanded Learning Program Quality Standards, Social Emotional Learning (SEL), and the After-School Education & Safety (ASES) grant compliance to various organizations throughout California. Nathan now aims to help build the capacity of Mentoring programs throughout the state of California. 

“As a former participant of a mentoring program, I recognize the profound impact that mentoring has in the lives of youth and their families. It is my personal mission to bring positivity and optimism to all of my workspaces. As much as it's about me, it's not about me"
– Nathan Houston

Gayle Hui roundGayle Hui, Supervisor of Student Services 2018 BOOSTer Since badge(he/him/his)
Arvin Union School District, Arvin, CA

Gayle Hui is currently working as a Grade 7 Teacher for the Arvin Union School District. Currently, in his 28th year in education, he has worked as an instructional aide, a classroom teacher, after school coordinator, and a Vice Principal. His personal mission is to use Expanded Learning as a means to closing the achievement gap. He enjoys observing young people having personal breakthroughs in their youth development. Gayle credits his professional relationships as one of his successes in networking and lifelong learning.

Claudine JamesClaudine James, NBCT Teacher and Community Liaison (she/her/hers)2020 BOOSTer Since badge
Malvern Middle School, Malvern, AR

Over her 13-year teaching career, 8th grade ELA teacher, Claudine James, has won numerous awards as well as being National Board and ESL certified. But recently her success has been on a different level. At the end of 2020, Ms. James, known on TikTok as @iamthatEnglishteacher, started posting grammar lessons on TikTok in order to reach virtual students who weren’t watching her YouTube tutorials. However, her students weren’t the only ones watching her videos. She has now amassed 3.7 million followers from 84 countries and was chosen as ARKTESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) Teacher of the Year. Her grammar videos and stories motivate and inspire current/future teachers. Now her classroom expands around the world, plus she’s helping to remind other educators how much they are needed in the education profession. A blog written by College Board, “Five TikTok Famous Teachers Everyone Should Follow”, lists Ms. James as number one. In addition to being the district’s community liaison, Ms. James serves on several advisory boards, the board of directors for the local library, and is a BOOST Ambassador and the 2023 BOOST Conference OSTI Award recipient. 

Brad Lupien roundBrad Lupien, CEO & President (he/him/his)2011 BOOSTer Since badge
arc, Los Angeles, CA

Brad Lupien holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from the University of Vermont and a Master's in Teaching from Simmons College in Boston, MA. Brad left teaching special education in Boston Public Schools in 2001 to start Good Sports Plus, which incorporated later as arc. www.arc-experience.com. As CEO & President at arc, Brad oversees 95 after school sites in 24 school districts, 62 summer camps, www.arcadventures.com, and arc-University.  Additionally, Brad serves as a board member for Just In Time for Foster Youth (JIT) and Temple Solel.  Past board service includes; CORE Educational Services, Education Synergy Alliance, Interfaith Family, Leadership North County, Vistage Worldwide, Learning In After School & Summer (LIAS) and the Take Action Campaign.

Eric Rowles roundEric Rowles, CEO (he/him/his)2019 BOOSTer Since badge
Leading To Change, Huntersville, NC

Eric Rowles is a nationally recognized trainer, speaker, and consultant who has worked with over 200,000 youth, adults, administrators, professionals, and policymakers within the past 20 years. His presentations are legendary - by combining the energy and innovation of a master trainer, while at the same time reaching each of us through his stories, research, and on-the-ground strategies. One part inspirational speaker and published author, one part DJ, and two parts community organizer and parent of 2 daughters, Eric runs a customized consulting and facilitation practice that, through a network of over 20 dynamic and diversely talented trainers, works with for-profit and non-profit organizations to achieve progressive and dynamic change. Additionally, Eric is the founder and current Director of the North Carolina Youth Giving Network – a statewide association of over 1100 youth philanthropists that have granted over $400,000 to North Carolina communities since 2005.

Eric’s previous experience includes his work as Senior Director of Training with the Youth Leadership Institute where he designed a national training institute that provided over 1,000 days of training in five years to community organizations and coalitions throughout the country. Prior to his work with YLI, Eric was the Director of Leadership Development at Rutgers University (NJ), managed his own touring educational theater organization, Leadership Through Motivation Productions, was the Director of International Youth Summer Abroad programs, and spent five years as a substance abuse prevention coordinator in Southern California.

Additionally, Eric through his double bachelors and Master of Science degrees in Ethnic Studies and Educational Leadership, he has served as a faculty member at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte as well as Rutgers University (NJ) and has over a decade of innovative and cutting edge classroom instruction and facilitation experience. Eric has also been a volunteer trainer and partner for a wide range of social change agencies and organizations including the National Conference on Community and Justice, College Leadership Diversity Conference, and Teaching Tolerance Curriculum Instruction.

In addition to his training experience, Eric has also been a professional DJ and worked with artists throughout the entertainment industry, including Gwen Stefani, Billy Joel, Notorious B.I.G., Cypress Hill, Tribe Called Quest, The Fugees, Boyz II Men, Third Eye Blind, The Roots, George Clinton & Parliament, Henry Rollins, Radiohead, Smashmouth, Weezer, Edward James Olmos, Sinbad, George Lopez, Margaret Cho, and Maya Angelou.

Sheneika Simmons roundSheneika Simmons, Principal Consultant (she/her/hers)2022 BOOSTer Since badge
Simmons Leadership Services, Wake Forest, NC

Sheneika Simmons is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Simmons Leadership Services. Sheneika earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology from Ferrum College and a Masters of Science in Educational Studies from Johns Hopkins University. She is an awardee of the 2022 National Afterschool Association's Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders. She is a former educator and currently works to support and shape a more equitable afterschool and educational landscape.

Sonia Toledo round

Dr. Sonia Toledo, President & CEO (she/her/hers)2019 BOOSTer Since badge
Dignity of Children, New York, NY

She is the founder & CEO of Dignity of Children, a training and development organization that promotes 21st-century learning. She holds a Ph.D. in education (with the focus on global training & development) and has more than 25 years of experience working in the after-school field. Dr. Toledo is a creator of iDEAS Empowered by Youth, an innovative teacher training program that prepares educators to teach young people social entrepreneurship.

Leomary Toribio roundLeomary Toribio, 21st Century Site Director (she/her/hers)2022 BOOSTer Since badge
YMCA of Greater Providence, Providence, RI

Leomary Toribio is the 21st Century Site Director of Providence Youth Services YMCA. She has been working in child care for 5 years. One of her passions is youth voice and emotional expression. Expressing emotions through art is very important to her because she grew up not knowing how to express herself until she started doing music and painting. She found a different way of therapy that she hopes to pass along to our youth today. She plans to open up her own art therapy program one day!


Interested in becoming an ambassador?

We are offering the opportunity to become a BOOST Ambassador. Our Ambassadors serve as a street team of advocates who spread the word about BOOST Conferences, online trainings, PD opportunities, and other initiatives in the field. Becoming a BOOST Ambassador will challenge and inspire you to build capacity in the after school, expanded learning, and in and out-of-school time fields. You are acting not only as a representative of your organization, but also on behalf of BOOST Collaborative.

Join the interest list here.

Ambassador Interest promo

We are committed to diversity and to equal opportunity and do not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, age, height, weight, physical or mental ability (including HIV status), veteran status, military obligations, or marital status. At BOOST and in all BOOST related activities and events, we affirm the sexual orientation and gender identity of each individual and aim to create LGBTQ-inclusive and affirming environments and learning opportunities. This policy applies to hiring, internal, promotions, training opportunities, advancement opportunities, and terminations. This policy also applies to all employees, Leadership Team members, volunteers, clients, and contractors that present/speak/exhibit at or sponsor BOOST related activities and events.

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Dr. Katherine Bihr is the Vice President and Executive Director of the Tiger Woods Learning Center. Her responsibilities include providing direction to the personnel, programs and operations of the Tiger Woods Learning Center.

 

Prior to joining TWLC, she was the Principal of Vista View Middle School in Fountain Valley, CA. While there the school received recognition as a California Distinguished School, and Katherine was recognized for her leadership by the Council for Special Education. Additionally, Katherine served on the Superintendent’s Cabinet in the Ocean View School District providing guidance in the areas of physical education and the visual/performing arts.

 

Dr. Bihr serves on the board of directors for the El Viento Foundation which provides education and enrichment opportunities for at-risk students from grades 4-12; and Project Tomorrow which supports the innovative uses of science, math and technology resources in K-12 schools and communities. In addition, Katherine sits on the Department of Education Leadership Council for the University of California, Irvine and California State University, Fullerton. Dr. Bihr has presented twice at the United States Department of Education and was an invited panelist in an International Education Forum at the United States Department of Education in November of 2008, focused on Fostering Global Responsibility and Leadership.

 

Her undergraduate degree in kinesiology was completed at Long Beach State University and she holds a Masters of Educational Administration from Azusa Pacific University.  Katherine received a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern California, Rossier School of Education.

 

The Tiger Woods Learning Center provides career exploration and college preparation programs to high potential, low opportunity youth and families. During the school day, elementary students and their classroom teachers embark on a one-week indepth study of science. While students become marine biologists and forensic scientists, classroom teachers are provided instruction in developing and delivering hands-on science lessons and the effective use of technology in the classroom. After school junior high and high school students participate in hands-on career exploration activities that help bridge the gap between school and the real world. Outreach programming is also available for families to help them navigate the college application and financial aid processes – helping parent and child understand that going to college is not only affordable, but attainable. In 2008 the Tiger Woods Learning Center was recognized at the state level by the Association of California School Administrators as a Partner in Educational Excellence for its unique programs offered to young people ages 9-18.

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