Meet the 2018 BOOST Conference Speakers & Presenters

(This page was updated on 4-17-18. Please continue to check back for additional speakers and presenters.) 

Rafael Acosta
Regional Director, LAUSD - Beyond the Bell, Los Angeles, CA

Rafael Acosta is the Regional Director for the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Beyond the Bell Middle School Unit. Since 2002, Rafa has served the Beyond the Bell Branch in a variety of roles and duties while also earning both his B.A. in History and Masters in Public Administration from California State University Northridge. As a proud product of the Los Angeles Unified School District, Rafa has experienced similar circumstances as the students in the Beyond the Bell Middle School Programs and continues to strive to ensure these students are provided with quality student-centered and meaningful learning opportunities during the out of school hours. Lastly, Rafa is the proud father of Alyssa and Samantha Acosta. 

Raul Alcantar
Program Manager, Oakland Leaf Foundation, Oakland, CA

By way of Los Angeles, Raúl J. Alcantar has spent the last decade growing, learning, and building in the Bay Area community. As a first-generation Xicana he moved to the Bay Area to pursue his undergraduate education at the University of California, Berkeley where he became involved in addressing issues of educational inequity, lack of resources faced by marginalized communities, the intersections of race, class, and sexuality, and the power of art. Raúl is passionate about developing innovative, culturally-informed, youth-centered programs to achieve meaningful community transformations. He takes a holistic approach when working with youth and their families that is rooted in love of self and community. With years of experience working in after-school settings and other social justice programs, he has developed techniques to inspire and engage adults to become positive student allies. He first joined Oakland Leaf in 2013 as the After-School Site Manager at Think College Now where he bridged the rich Fruitvale community and the campus to create un mundo donde muchos mundos puedan existir. In the Fall of 2014, Raúl was moved to implement his pedagogy and skills as the new Oakland Leaf After-School Site Manager at EnCompass Academy.

Emma Banay
Design2Learn Program Manager, ExpandED Schools, New York City, NY

Emma Banay, Design2Learn Program Manager, comes to ExpandED Schools with experience working directly with students and educators to create engaging, real-world science experiences. She taught elementary and middle school science for three years and provided one-on-one support to NYC schools as the Coordinator of Grow to Learn, the NYC citywide school gardens initiative. In that role, she worked to expand students’ access to engaging, real-world science experiences, prioritizing students disproportionately affected by limited green space, poverty, and poor public health outcomes. At present, Ms. Banay manages Design2Learn, a replicable science intervention that features a combination of 1) collaborative teaching; 2) curricular bridging; and 3) design-based learning delivered in out-of-school time aiming to increase underrepresented students’ interest, engagement, and achievement in STEM. In addition, she manages Early Risers, a practicum experience for men of color interested in teaching early childhood STEM. In both these roles, she works closely with school, community, and external partners to support students and educators underrepresented in STEM and/or the teaching profession. In particular, she manages partnerships and provides educator coaching, curricular- and program-level planning, and professional development experiences.

Linda Barton
Director, Wyoming Afterschool Alliance, Lander, WY

Linda Barton has been the Director of the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance (WYAA) since its inception in 2007. WYAA is part of the National Network of Statewide Afterschool Networks with the C.S. Mott Foundation, and a priority fund of the Wyoming Community Foundation. Previously, Barton was Director of the Lights On in Lander afterschool program from 2000-2014, utilizing 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) funding.

Barton is a native of Los Angeles, CA, and now lives and works in Lander, Wyoming. She has a B.A. in Psychology from California State University at Northridge, and an M.A. in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix. She currently is a school board trustee of the Fremont County School District #1 school board in Lander, WY since 2014, and previously served as a councilmember for the City of Lander from 2004-2012.

Joshua Blecha
SSEL Region Lead, R7 Fresno, Fresno County Superintendent of Schools, Fresno, CA

Born and raised in the Expanded Learning field, Josh started his career as a tutor in a small community in Fowler, CA in Fresno County. Ten years later, he now serves that same county as the Region Lead of Region 7, Fresno for the System of Support for Expanded Learning. Josh has made many pit stops in the many different expanded learning positions along the way but has never lost his "why" which is to serve young people in their quest to grow, to achieve, and to find their passion.

Tommy Brewer
General Manager, THINK Together, Santa Ana, CA

Tommy Brewer brings over 20 years experience in the expanded learning field including teaching; leading staff development for a large provider, General Manager for a major provider; participant on many state committees and initiatives.

Erin Browder
Education Consultant, Erin Browder, LLC, Los Angeles, CA

Erin Browder is a School Climate Specialist and Leadership Consultant. She specializes in leadership development, organizational/school transformation, emotional climate, and capacity building. Prior to becoming an independent consultant, she worked with Los Angeles Education Partnership (LAEP) as a Project Director with the Transform Schools Department. She has provided site-based support for school improvement efforts in comprehensive Los Angeles high schools since 2011. Prior to LAEP, she worked as a classroom teacher and teacher leader in elementary and middle public schools in East Harlem, NYC. She is a leader in training teachers and school personnel on trauma-informed practices, building the capacity of adult groups to support students’ academic and social well-being and develop positive classroom and school climates. She has a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and Spanish Literature and Language from University of Southern California. She holds an M.S. in Education from Hunter College, City University of New York and an M.A. in Education Administration from California State University, Dominguez Hills. She is currently studying Entrepreneurial Leadership in Educational Organizations at Johns Hopkins University, in the Ed.D. Program.

Phil Brown
Lead Trainer, High 5 Adventure Learning Center, Brattleboro, VT

Phil joined the High 5 team as a lead trainer in 2015. Originally from England, Phil first came to the US in 2008 working as an Outdoor Educator and Challenge Course Coordinator at the New York YMCA Camp. His work in the realms of summer camp, outdoor education, and physical education give him an invaluable perspective for working with High 5’s varied clientele. Bringing high energy and passion to the Adventure Education field, Phil has presented workshops at ACCT (Association for Challenge Course Technology), Northeast and International AEE (Association of Experiential Education), NEYCC (Northeast YMCA Camping Conference), MAHPERD, NHAHPERD, and at the High 5 Symposium.

Tiana Brown
Assistant Director, Norwalk Housing Authority (NHA) Learning Centers, Norwalk, CT

Tiana Brown is a graduate of Virginia State University and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. She has 11 years of professional experience as an educator and Therapeutic Support Facilitator with the Bridgeport Public School District. She currently serves as the Assistant Director of the Norwalk Housing Authority Learning Centers where she supervises and develops after-school programming and supplemental learning opportunities for at-risk students. Tiana is a passionate practitioner and has presented at several local and national after-school conferences.
*BOOST Breakfast Club Blogger 

Fred Buggs
Education Programs Consultant, California Department of Education, Sacramento, CA

Fred was born and raised in Beloit, Wisconsin. He is an Education Programs Consultant for the State of California, Department of Education, Expanded Learning Division. He earned a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy and Urban Studies from Beloit College and a Master's degree in Counseling from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Currently, Fred is finishing up a Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from Edgewood College. Prior to joining the Department, Fred was the Chief Professional Officer for the Stateline Boys & Girls Clubs from 2005 -2015, which consisted of 2 traditional clubs as well as 10 elementary school sites. He started his career in Expanded Learning with the Federal TRIO program, Upward Bound, which is a program for low-income, first-generation college-bound students to enroll in a college and/or university and earn a baccalaureate degree.

Monica Burns
EdTech & Curriculum Consultant, Class Tech Tips, LLC, Jersey City, NJ

Dr. Monica Burns is an EdTech and Curriculum consultant, author and former New York City public school teacher. She visits schools across the country to support PreK-20 teachers to make technology integration meaningful and sustainable. Monica’s website helps educators place tasks before apps by promoting deeper learning with technology.

Beth Chaton, EdD
Program Coordinator, After School Programs and Redwood EdVentures, Humboldt County Office of Education, Eureka, CA

Beth Chaton is the Program Coordinator for the Humboldt County Office of Education's After School Consortium, funded through the CDE Expanded Learning Division's ASES grant, started in 2007. The consortium consists of 20 school sites in 12 school districts across Humboldt County, many of them rural or frontier sites. Facilitating the Redwood Afterschool Network she brings together site coordinators for professional development, support, and resources. Dr. Chaton received the Expanded Learning Visionary Leadership Award in 2015, presented by State Superintendent of Schools, Tom Torlakson and the Expanded Learning Division Director, Michael Funk. In 2016 she was appointed by Governor Brown to the the Before and After School Advisory Committee. Building teams and building people has been the primary focus of Dr. Chaton's work, with an emphasis on Servant Leadership so as to support inspired and engaged learning.

Camrin Christensen
Director of Volunteer Recruitment and Outreach, CASA of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

Camrin Christensen joined CASA of Los Angeles as Director of Volunteer Recruitment and Outreach in January 2015. She is leading the organization's efforts to increase the number of CASA volunteers making a meaningful difference in the lives of children in the LA County foster care system. Camrin is also a Court Appointed Special Advocate herself. Prior to joining CASA, Camrin spent ten years overseas, working to promote civic engagement and eliminate corruption in the South Caucasus. Camrin has an MA in International Affairs from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a BA from Wellesley College. She was a Fulbright Scholar (Tbilisi, Georgia) and a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar (Irkutsk, Russia) and is multilingual in Russian and Georgian.

Erahm Christopher
Founder, Good Instinct, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Erahm Christopher is a filmmaker, speaker and author who bridges social divides using "relevential" films. Christopher has produced connections, healing and lasting behavior changes in the most dangerous and diverse schools across North America. He has created content and programming for the federal government, educational institutions, non-profits, pro athletes, incarcerated youth, health organizations and corporations across the US, Canada and Europe. He has reached over eight million people with his content and has personally presented to a one million people at speaking engagements around the globe.

Michelle Sadrena Clark
Project Co-Director of the Deeper Learning Hub, Center for Research on Equity and Innovation, High Tech High Graduate School of Education, San Diego, CA

Michelle Sadrena Clark is the Co-Director of the Deeper Learning Hub and the Share Your Learning Campaign based at the Center for Research on Equity and Innovation at High Tech High’s Graduate School of Education. She has fifteen years experience as a secondary school educator with notable expertise in project-based learning. Her students' projects have garnered regional and national attention for their ability to invite students to think critically and act empathetically. She is earning her Ed.D in Educational Leadership with an emphasis on social justice at the University of California, San Diego and California State University, San Marcos.

Adam Coughran
President, Safe Kids Inc., Newport Beach, CA

Adam Coughran is a police officer turned educator and entrepreneur. During his law enforcement career, Adam worked in various capacities including tactical teams and counter- terrorism. He soon began training in schools and discovered the need for safety training specifically for students. Adam in-turn co-founded Safe Kids Inc., and developed the H.E.R.O.™ Program. An acronym for Hide, Escape, Run, and Overcome, the program is designed to instill safe-thinking skills that enable children to survive violent incidents. It consists of age- appropriate curriculum, engaging activities, professional development and a series of drills and scenarios.

Matt D’Arrigo
Founder, A Reason To Survive (ARTS) and Director, Clare Rose Foundation, San Diego, CA

D’Arrigo is the Founder and former CEO of A Reason To Survive (ARTS), a nationally recognized Creative Youth Development organization in National City, CA, offering a wide range of multidisciplinary arts education classes, workforce development, creative community development, and social services to youth 11-22 years old. His work with ARTS has been the subject of the 2013 Academy Award-winning documentary-short “Inocente”, featured on the Today Show, was a case study in the New York Times bestselling book "Decisive" by Chip and Dan Heath, and profiled in Darius Graham’s book “Being the Difference: True Stories of Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things to Change the World”.

In 2017 D'Arrigo stepped down as CEO of ARTS to become an Advocate, Advisor, and Change-Agent in the Creative Youth Development space. He works with the Clare Rose Foundation leading their Creative Youth Development Initiative to advocate for, strengthen, and grow the CYD field locally, regionally, and nationally. He is also on the Leadership Team for Art=Opportunity at Centre Artes at Cal State San Marcos, co-producing an annual Youth Summit.

D'Arrigo is on the Arts Education Advisory Council for Americans for the Arts and sits on the Creative Youth Development Steering Committee for The National Guild for Community Arts Education

He currently lives in San Diego, CA with his wife, Hulya, and children Tessa and Andrew.

Clint Darr
Afterschool Educator, Missouri Afterschool Network, Columbia, MO

Clint works for the Missouri Afterschool Network providing coaching, training, and technical support, as well as laughter, to afterschool programs throughout Missouri. He is a highly qualified educator possessing extensive experience teaching in the classroom and in the afterschool environment. He holds a bachelor’s degree in management and a master’s degree in education. He is passionate about the importance of quality afterschool programming, with a particular interest in STEM and in laughter. Clint has presented at several state and national conferences and is a certified Laughter Yoga Instructor.

Jeff Davis
Executive Director, California AfterSchool Network, Sacramento, CA

Jeff Davis is the Executive Director for the California AfterSchool Network (CAN). Jeff has worked with CAN since its inception in 2006-07. Throughout his tenure with CAN, Jeff has had the opportunity to make many meaningful contributions to the expanded learning field. He has played an integral role in creating quality frameworks including the California Afterschool Program Quality Self-Assessment Tool and the Quality Standards for Expanded Learning in California. Mr. Davis organized diverse stakeholders to support older youth programs, advance after school nutrition and physical activity, address unique rural program needs, provide effective supports for English learners, and advance STEM learning in expanded learning programs. As a seasoned expanded learning stakeholder and the author of the State of the State of Expanded Learning in California, Jeff brings a great understanding for the expanded learning landscape. As a member of the Califorina Afterschool Advocacy Alliance, Jeff supports effective policies to increase expanded learning access and quality, including leveraging new opportunities made possible with new tax revenues generated by CA's Proposition 64. Jeff had the fortunate opportunity to begin his career in expanded learning as an Americorps volunteer in the CalServes expanded learning program.

Sheryl Davis
Executive Director, San Francisco Human Rights Commission, San Francisco, CA

Sheryl Davis has more than 20 years' experience working as an educator, developing afterschool and summer programs as well Main Presenter Bio as a community leader in San Francisco. She continues her work in service of youth and families as director of the SF Human Rights Commission.

Gabriela Delgado
Program Specialist, San Diego County Office of Education, San Diego, CA

Gabriela B. Delgado has worked in education and served youth for over 17 years. She provides professional development training to school staff and community agencies on topics including trauma-informed practices; facilitation of student support groups; restorative practices; student engagement; adolescent female development and empowerment; and crisis response.

Gabriela has a Master of Arts in Education/Counseling and Guidance with a PPS Credential from Point Loma Nazarene University and a Master of Public Administration from San Diego State University. Gabriela is also an Adjunct Instructor for Azusa Pacific University’s Department of School Counseling and Psychology.

Gabriela is passionate about her work. As a role model to youth, her authenticity is among one of her strongest assets. She is blessed to have had many women role models in her life (four of which are her mom and three older sisters). Gabriela believes ALL youth have amazing potential- it’s up to us to help them realize it.
*BOOST Ambassador

Dr. Nancy Dome
CEO, Epoch Education, El Verano, CA  

Dr. Nancy Dome has been supporting children to overcome institutional and systemic barriers and developing educators for over 20 years. Starting her career as a Child Care Worker, she has worked as a classroom teacher, teacher leader, college professor, and recently co-founded Epoch Education. Dr. Dome developed the RIR Protocol, which through the Epoch Conversations Starters provides concrete steps to practice interrupting dysfunctional systems and negative behavior through Compassionate Dialogue using the RIR Protocol. Dr. Dome and her team work around the country providing workshops, keynotes, and online courses utilizing myriad modalities to gently support stepping into discomfort on hard topics, and calling for deep personal reflection.

Patrick Duhon
Executive Director, The Opportunity Project, Tulsa, OK

Patrick Duhon has built citywide systems in several cities across the country, including directing the launch of citywide OST systems in Providence, RI and now in Tulsa, OK. As a community leader and consultant, he worked on projects developing programs and OST systems in several other cities, including New York, Seattle, Cleveland, Birmingham, and several others.

Frank Escobar
Director of Student Services, Visalia Unified School District, Visalia, CA

Frank currently serves as a Director of Student Services at Visalia Unified School District in Visalia,
 CA as well as working as a speaker, trainer, and consultant for the expanded learning and youth development fields.

A popular speaker and trainer at school assemblies, youth and after-school conferences, Frank has spoken to thousands of middle and high school youth and trained hundreds of educators and youth program workers across the country.

Frank brings years of experience, knowledge, and know-how, but most of all a passion for serving and working with the community and people who serve today's children and youth.

Jane Felling
Consultant, Box Cars and One-Eyed Jacks, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Jane is an international speaker and has been presenting math game workshops for over 25 years. She has been a featured speaker at the national ASCD and spoken at the national and regional NCTM's for over 20 years. She continues to teach in classrooms across North America as part of her consulting contracts.

John Felling
Consultant, Box Cars and One-Eyed Jacks, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

John is an international speaker in the area of using games as a teaching strategy and brings over 30 years of education to his presentations. He has been a featured speaker at the National ASCD conference on teaching Excellence as well as a frequent speaker at both regional and national NCTM's.

Eli Fox
Outreach Coordinator, Outward Bound California, San Francisco, CA

Outward Bound California's goal is to contribute to the 'character education movement' by improving how 'character is taught', how character outcomes are measured and by making expeditions accessible to students from all walks of life and circumstances. During the workshop participants will explore the five ways in which OBCA approaches character and leadership development.

Michael Funk
Director,  Expanded Learning Division (ASD), California Department of Education (CDE), Sacramento, CA

Michael Funk was appointed in January 2012 by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, and was charged with the development and implementation of a strategic plan building upon California's critical investment in Expanded Learning to create systems and programs that maximize outcomes for children, youth, families, school and communities. Prior to this role, Michael was the Founder and Executive Director of the Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center ( in San Francisco, established in 1996 and regarded as a national model for offering community and afterschool programming rooted in Youth Development. Michael grew up in Idaho where he earned his teaching credential. Following that, Michael became an ordained minister, whereas he worked to create social justice ministries to serve the urban and immigrant communities in North America.

Julia Gabor
Breakfast Club Blog Executive Chef, BOOST Collaborative, Los Angeles, CA

Julia is thrilled to join the BOOST Collaborative team in the capacity of the Executive Chef, managing the Breakfast Club Blog. Not only does she have the opportunity to read and collaborate with some of the most innovative out of school time leaders, mentors, and storytellers but she gets to share their talents with a national audience. She is even more excited to serve in this BOOST session with three leaders in the BOOST community! As Co-Founder of kid-grit, she has finally been able to share her passion for youth development with all education communities. Julia was awarded the Women Making a Difference by U.S. Representative and Califonia State Senator Lou Correa, and in 2013 Julia received the OSTI award from BOOST for her contribution to out-of-school time individuals by providing innovative approaches to support students, families, and communities.

Carlos Garcia
Regional Director, LAUSD - Beyond the Bell, Los Angeles, CA

Carlos began working with the Los Angeles Unified School District's Beyond the Bell Branch in 2002. During his tenure with Beyond the Bell, Carlos has focused on youth development in elementary and middle school-aged children and has worked with students in various capacities all across the greater Los Angeles area. Carlos is currently a Regional Director with Beyond the Bell and oversees 36 middle school comprehensive programs across Los Angeles. His passion for expanded learning has led him towards a path focusing on youth, program, and professional development. Carlos is continuously delivering trainings on the aforementioned topics at numerous conferences and workshops. Additionally, Carlos has developed youth programs to serve children’s leadership, academic, enrichment, and fitness interests. Through his work, Carlos strives to best equip the children he serves to make the best choices for themselves and their community.

Elvy Garcia
Program Coordinator, LAUSD - Beyond the Bell, Los Angeles, CA

Elvy Garcia has contributed to the Expanded Learning Field since 2007 with the Beyond the Bell Branch of the Los Angeles Unified School District. As Program Coordinator with Beyond the Bell’s Youth Development Program, Elvy designs and implements leadership development programming for elementary-aged students and staff throughout the City of Los Angeles. Elvy holds a B.A. in Sociology and an M.A. in Public Administration from California State University Northridge. Elvy strives to fulfill her set mission to lead, create, and advocate towards responsive Expanded Learning programs focusing on the needs of youth and the communities she serves.

Ted Gee
President, Live Music Tutor Inc., Austin, TX

President and Chief Executive Officer Ted Gee has served as an officer in the United States Army, and has held leadership roles such as Chief Operating Officer, President and as a leader in some high-profile fortune 500 companies including Harley Davidson, Corning, and Ingersoll Rand. He is multi lingual and has completed post graduate work at MIT Sloan and Chicago Booth. Ted is the author of the bestselling book "Hope Is Not A Strategy, simple solutions for doing business in the 21st century".

Steve Gering
Leadership Development Coach, Gering Consulting LLC, Kansas City, MO

Steve Gering, has worked as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal, district administrator, Deputy Superintendent, and consultant. In Kansas City, Kansas, Steve led the district reform effort, First Things First, cited by the Gates Foundation as "one of the most significant reforms in urban education today." In 2008, Steve was recruited by former Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan to lead Chicago's High School Transformation efforts. In 2011, Mr. Gering moved from consulting full-time to accepting the role of Chief Leadership Development Officer for Chicago Public Schools. Currently, Steve consults across the country to provide leadership development and coaching to district and school leaders with an emphasis on addressing issues of racial bias. Current and former clients include Hillsborough County, FL Public Schools, Omaha Public Schools, Holyoke, MA Public Schools, Waukegan, IL Public Schools, Kansas City Public Schools, and the Hawaii State Department of Education.

Merryl Goldberg
Professor, California State University San Marcos, San Marcos, CA

Merryl Goldberg is a Professor of Music at California State University San Marcos and Director of the ART=OPPORTUNITY campaign of Center ARTES, a university center dedicated to restoring arts to education. Her publications include Arts Integration: Teaching Subject Matter Through the Arts in Multicultural Settings 5th edition (2017) as well as other books, articles, chapters, editorials, and blogs. She has received numerous research and programmatic grants including Federal Department of Education Arts in Education Program, Fulbright-Hays Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, Stuart and Panta Rhea grants. Merryl’s undergraduate degree is from New England Conservatory of Music, and her doctorate is from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Prior to entering academia, she recorded numerous CDs and was on the road for 13 years playing the saxophone with the Klezmer Conservatory Band. Merryl’s hometown is Boston. Go Red Sox!

Mark Gonzales
Futurist, Author, Poet, Senior Technologist, The Department of the Future, Los Angeles, CA

Mark Gonzales is a father, futurist, and one of the most innovative storytellers of our time. His creative portfolio spans twenty countries and includes: 3 TED stages, HBO Def Poetry, Stanford University, and the United Nations. Yo Soy Muslim is his first venture into children's literature, a journey inspired by his daughter and the stories she'll grow up reading. Currently, Mark journeys between California and northern Africa with his family, seeding ways to excite the human imagination.

Jodi Grant
Executive Director, Afterschool Alliance, Washington, D.C.

Since 2005, Jodi Grant has been Executive Director of the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit public awareness and advocacy organization working to ensure that all children and youth have access to quality, affordable afterschool programs.

In America today, 11.3 million children take care of themselves after the school day ends, more than 10 million students are in afterschool programs but the parents of almost 20 million children say their kids would participate if a program were available. The Afterschool Alliance seeks to educate the public, the media and policy makers about the enormous potential of quality afterschool programs and how programs across the country are inspiring children and creating opportunities for them to succeed academically, socially and professionally. The Afterschool Alliance serves as a national voice for afterschool and provides resources and materials to more than 25,000 afterschool programs. It organizes national and local afterschool events, including the organization's signature event, Lights On Afterschool; conducts research on the need and support for afterschool; creates tools for afterschool practitioners; and connects afterschool leaders to national, state and local opinion leaders.
As Executive Director, Grant oversees all aspects of the Afterschool Alliance's work – setting its goals and strategies for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, working with the field to help programs tap into federal funding streams, and supervising research to help national, state and local afterschool advocates and providers support, create and expand quality afterschool programs.

Prior to joining the Afterschool Alliance, Grant served as Director of Work and Family Programs for the National Partnership for Women & Families. In that position, she worked to protect and expand the Family & Medical Leave Act and was a member of the team that successfully defended the law before the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to that, she worked on Capitol Hill as General Counsel to the Senate Budget Committee and as Staff Director for a Senate Committee. Her legislative accomplishments include expanded support for the child tax credit, the Child Health Insurance Program and class size reduction. She also served as liaison to the National Governors' Association, where she worked closely with Republican and Democratic governors.

Grant graduated from Yale University with honors and was elected senior class president. She received her law degree from Harvard University, where she was elected class president (first marshall). As a student, she volunteered at an afterschool program. She currently serves as a Trustee of the America's Promise Alliance, and on the Steering Committee of the Coalition for Community Schools. Grant, her husband and two children live in Bethesda, Maryland. She moonlights as a spin instructor at a local gym.

Annemarie M. Grassi, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO, Open Doors Academy, Cleveland, OH

Dr. Annemarie M. Grassi has served as the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Open Doors Academy (ODA) for the past 15 years. She is a dynamic and caring individual who works passionately and tirelessly to build this successful organization, which was once earmarked for closure. At 23-years-old, she started the non-profit ODA and grew it from 20 kids to over 500 kids annually.

Dr. Grassi holds a B.A. with Honors in Psychology from Ohio University, M.S.Ed. in Child and Adolescent Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, a Non Profit Management Certificate from Case Western Reserve University and a Ph.D. in Urban Education from Cleveland State University. Through growth of Open Doors Academy and service on a number of nonprofit boards, she brings a depth of experience in child and adolescent development, program development, metrics and outcomes, fundraising, and strategic planning.
*BOOST Breakfast Club Blogger 

Susie Grimm
Early Learning Manager, PBS SoCal, Costa Mesa, CA

Susie Grimm oversees the station's early learning initiatives, which includes projects like Ready To Learn, PBS KIDS, and STEM outreach. Susie leads PBS SoCal's technology and media for learning outreach work and has experience in leading innovative collaboratives for early learning media with a focus on parent engagement. Susie is responsible for building, sustaining, and expanding partnerships between PBS SoCal and the Southern California Community.

Susie has a Bachelor's degree in Applied Psychology with a focus in Education from UC, Santa Barbara. She holds a Master's in Public Policy and Administration from the California State University, Long Beach and she is currently a student in the Doctor of Education in Learning Technologies program at Pepperdine University.

 Bobbi Hamilton
CEO, Chi Universe, Santa Monica, CA

Bobbi Hamilton, C.Y.T. is a Yoga & Meditation Teacher, a UC Berkeley graduate, and a published Breast Cancer Researcher for U.C.S.F. Medical. She is also a Thought Leader and Producer of children's play-along entertainment, her work has appeared on PBS Kids reaching 20 million households, and 2 million kids in classrooms. Her new invention, the Chi Universe Yoga Mat & Program has been featured in Michelle Obama's Let's Move! LA campaign, the United Nations for HerStory, Four Seasons Resorts, LAUSD STAR After-School program, and public and private schools across the US and around the world.

Shawnee Thornton Hardy
Founder, Asanas for Autism and Special Needs, San Diego, CA

Shawnee is Certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT), Educational/Behavior Specialist and M.Ed. Shawnee has worked with children with special needs for over 17 years. She has specialized in working with children who have significant cognitive and language delays, sensory processing deficits, as well as severe behavior challenges. She has experienced first hand the benefits yoga and mindfulness can provide to health and overall well-being. Her goal is to bring the experience of yoga and mindfulness to all individuals no matter their differences or challenges. Shawnee has presented at conferences throughout the US and internationally on topics focused on yoga and mindfulness for children of diverse abilities. She wrote a published a book, Asanas for Autism and Special Needs – Yoga to Help Children with Their Emotions, Self-Regulation and Body Awareness and is the creator of the C.A.L.M.M Yoga Toolkit. She has a Yoga School through Yoga Alliance and travels throughout the US and internationally in order to train others in yoga and mindfulness approaches to support children and young adults with autism and special needs. Shawnee is dedicated to helping support youth in developing strategies to cope with stress in order to live happier, healthier more peaceful lives.
*BOOST Breakfast Club Blogger 

Daniel Hatcher
Director, Community Partnerships, Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Washington, D.C.

At the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Daniel is responsible for managing technical assistance services and resources for out-of-school time sites as they work to achieve national standards for healthy eating and physical activity. Daniel oversees community-based and out-of-school partnerships at the Alliance. Daniel also serves as the chair of the technical assistance working group of the Healthy Out-of-School Time Coalition, a national collective of youth-serving organizations advancing health and wellness. Daniel has a BA in International Relations and a Masters of Public Health, both from Western Kentucky University. Daniel regularly blogs on topics relevant to healthy afterschool at
*BOOST Breakfast Club Blogger 

Clarissa Hayes
Child Nutrition Policy Analyst, Food Research and Action Center, Washington, D.C.

Clarissa Hayes joined FRAC in February 2015 as a child nutrition policy analyst. She works with anti-hunger organizations as well as with local, state, and national governments to expand the use of afterschool and summer nutrition programs. Before joining FRAC, Clarissa was an anti-hunger program associate at Maryland Hunger Solutions and worked to increase participation in the child nutrition programs across the state. She has also completed two years of national community service through AmeriCorps NCCC and AmeriCorps VISTA.

Nicole Hockley
Managing Director, Sandy Hook Promise, Newtown, CT

Nicole Hockley, mother of Dylan Hockley, killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, is Managing Director of Sandy Hook Promise (SHP), a national gun violence prevention non-profit that delivers prevention programs to schools around the country, free of cost. Nicole joined SHP in January of 2013, just weeks after the tragedy. She has had to honor of giving multiple TEDx talks on gun safety and knowing the signs of someone who may be in crisis, or planning violence toward themselves or others, as well as dozens of speaking engagements and trainings at schools around the country. She works to ensure that no other parents will have to endure the pain of losing a child to preventable gun violence.

Erin Hogeboom
Community Development and Network Strategy Manager, National Girls Collaborative, Seattle, WA

As Community Development and Network Strategy Manager for the National Girls Collaborative (NGC), Erin Hogeboom increases cohesion across the NGC network and The Connectory, an online community, thereby expanding science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM) resources more equitably. Through managing partnerships, pilots, and on-going projects, facilitating strategic planning, implementation, and social media surrounding the NGC Leadership growth and sustainability, Erin reinforces the forward momentum of NGC and The Connectory.

Daren Howard
Director of Technical Assistance, Partnership for Children and Youth, Oakland, CA

Daren Howard joined the Partnership for Children & Youth in 2015. As the Director of Technical Assistance he is responsible for providing direct support to after school and summer programs across California through advocacy, training, coaching, and consulting. Daren has been a youth development professional since 2004. He has served students of all ages across California and in Mexico. Most recently, Daren worked with THINK Together in Southern California to provide high quality, academically oriented Afterschool, and Summer Programs. He also served as a Technical Assistance Peer Reviewer for the Los Angeles County Office of Education, and as a Community Advisory Board Member for several state and local health, academic, and enrichment initiatives.

Andre Ike
Program Specialist, Loma Linda University Health, Loma Linda, CA

For the last 3 years, Andre has served as the drug and alcohol education specialist for Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital’s Youth Alternative Solution Program. Over the past 16 years, Andre has worked with children and adolescents from a variety of positions, from supervising sites for before and after school child care to working with SED adolescents in a group home setting. Andre received his bachelor’s degree from the University of La Verne in psychology and a master’s degree in psychology with an emphasis in child and adolescent development from Capella University.

Brooke Jones
Vice President, Random Acts of Kindness, Denver, CO

Brooke wants to live in a world where people choose kindness over violence, compassion over cruelty, and action over indifference.

She is a certified professional life coach and a certified applied positive psychology practitioner. Brooke is the founder of Sisu Coaching and the Vice President of The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.

As Vice President of The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, she oversees an education program reaching almost 60 countries worldwide impacting millions of students, teachers, and families. In addition to the education program, Brooke manages the website, social media, and strategic partnership efforts. Utilizing social media to build engagement, the RAK Facebook page engages over one million fans.

Brooke's roots are in the arts. She received her degree in art history in 1998 after living in Paris, studying art and architecture and developing the rare talent of sustaining on baguettes, wine, and chocolate. She has worked in the fine art industry and municipal government for most of her career before landing in non-profit management and life coaching.

When she's not coaching clients, delivering emotional intelligence training to corporate clients, training educators on the "Kindness in the Classroom" curriculum or posting inspiring stories on Facebook, you can find her curled up with a good book, working on one of her many crafts, or playing games with her husband and eleven-year-old daughter. You may even find her sneaking around performing quiet random acts of kindness.

Brenna Johnston-Kosher
Programs Director, arc Adventure, Torrance, CA

Brenna Johnston-Kosher (yes, like the pickle) is the Director of arc Adventure in Torrance, CA, where she specializes in hands- on leadership training and professional development in outdoor spaces for teenagers, university students, and professional groups alike. Brenna has been in the field of outdoor and experiential education for over a decade, with a background in challenge courses, teambuilding, and adventure retreats. Brenna hails from El Paso, Texas where she developed a love of desert thunderstorms and spicy food, and received her bachelor’s in Political Science and History from UCLA, where she discovered her passion for outdoor education as part of the UCLA Outdoor Leadership Training Program.

Francis L. Kaya
CEO, Source Code Technology (SCT) USA, Essex Junction, VT

Professor Francis L. Kaya is an Author and International Researcher & Specialist on Emotional intelligence (EQ) and the interpretation of dreams, signs & symbols in more than 43 countries throughout the world. As a Chairman and CEO of multiple international foundations, his example of devotion and humanitarianism as a Philanthropist has become a source of inspiration for millions of people on the planet. His capacity to understand and explain the functioning of EQ through symbolic language is an extraordinary source of knowledge. An excellent Lecturer, Professor Kaya helps us discover in depth the importance of our autonomy of consciousness.

Jodie Knowles
Founder, Luminous Minds Project, Seattle, WA 

Jodie Knowles is a performing artist with over 20 years of experience whom critics have called “intuitively brilliant.” As an alumni of an arts-based high school program who went on to study theatre arts at Freehold Theatre Studio Lab in Seattle, Jodie has performed in numerous award-winning independent films, theatrical productions, and festivals, in schools, prisons and institutions as a highly sought after female voice in and around the Seattle area and throughout the West Coast.

She has written and performs her solo show called ‘Learning Curve: Confessions of a Special Ed Kid’ about her experience as a Special Ed student in public school in the south. Jodie hopes that by writing her story she has created an artful conversation starter, bringing awareness to the serious psychological effects of bullying and student shaming - and attention to all that our society loses when we segregate creative minds from typical learners in our public schools.

After many years of research and overcoming the statistics that are predicted for those living with LD/ADHD, Jodie now works as a Coach and Advocate for youth and adults labeled with Learning Disabilities and ADHD. She works with and alongside educators, students, and artists to think, work and live more creatively. She has coached at the University of Washington as an Educational Consultant, and as a guest speaker at Seattle Pacific University on the Art of Entrepreneurship.

Jodie's additional training includes certification as a Strategic Intervention Coach through the Robbins Madanes Training.

In 2014, Jodie researched and consulted with psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, teachers, artists, advocates, coaches, and students to create a program of recovery to help youth and adults with Learning Disabilities and ADHD. Jodie created Luminous Minds Project to provide coaching, education, workshops, community meetings, outreach and advocacy to help recover creative minds labeled LD/ADHD that have been injured by the educational and judicial systems. She is on a mission to connect and build a community for those who are often isolated and marginalized, slipping through the cracks. Luminous Minds Project is giving light to those who have been in the dark for too long.

Selena Levy
Program Manager, California School-Age Consortium, Berkeley, CA

Selena Levy joined the CalSAC team in 2014 and now serves as the Program Manager. Selena graduated from Willamette University and has been a direct service provider with City Year Los Angeles in East LA supporting student academic success in the classroom and with Playworks in elementary schools in Inglewood. Selena also worked in San Francisco providing job readiness training and direct work experience with older youth. Selena was recognized as a 2018 Afterschool Next Generation leader by the National Afterschool Association.

Mike Liston
Founder, DrumBus, the Mobile Music Room, Salt Lake City, UT

Mike Liston founded DrumBus, the Mobile Music Room, where he engages a diversity of youth in group-rhythm, transcending traditional barriers, and allowing them to connect and build community. He has used evidence-based approaches in working with many at-risk populations, including in the juvenile justice system, rehab centers, and high-trauma populations. For over 10 years, Mike has facilitated workshops with tens of thousands of children in multiple states. You'll enjoy his easy-going facilitation style and have a fantastic time drumming with your friends on the DrumBus. 

Stephanie Lo
TED-Ed Director of Programs, TED Conferences, New York City, NY

Stephanie Lo is the director of programs for TED-Ed, TED’s youth and education initiative. TED-Ed’s mission is to spark and celebrate the voices of students and teachers around the world by sharing curiosity-inspiring content and engaging students through its award-winning platform and programs.

Before joining TED in 2011, Stephanie was the director of growth and development at Relay Graduate School of Education, the first accredited graduate school of education to emerge in New York in more than 80 years. At Relay, Stephanie oversaw the organization’s initial strategic and operational planning to fulfill ambitious plans to scale to ten campuses throughout the United States within ten years.

Stephanie has worked in education and technology in China, Los Angeles, Boston, and New York. She received her EdM at Harvard University in education, policy and management, and earned her BA in international development and minored in education and public policy at University California, Los Angeles.

Fausto Lopez
Senior TA Consultant, American Institutes for Research, Chicago, IL

Fausto A. Lopez is a bilingual technical assistance consultant working on school climate; social and emotional learning; and afterschool and expanded learning initiatives at AIR. He provides technical assistance, training, and professional development to diverse audiences in the education and out-of-school time sectors. Lopez works with educational and out-of-school time systems to design resources and tools that support programs in the development, implementation, and applied evaluation of program offerings. Lopez specializes in U.S. Department of Education, Elementary and Secondary Education Act initiatives, now ESSA, including 21st CCLC, GEAR UP, and Upward Bound. He is a nationally recognized presenter on youth development and related education topics. He facilitates national, regional, and statewide educational workshops that bring the most up-to-date research to the field in exciting and relatable formats (e.g., Beyond the Bell Toolkit). Lopez holds a master’s degree in education psychology-youth development from the University of Illinois at Chicago. 
*BOOST Breakfast Club Blogger 

Mark Lovett
Organizer, TEDxSanDiego, San Diego, CA

Having survived three decades in corporate America, recovering c-level executive Mark Lovett is now immersed in the world of storytelling, from organizing TEDx events in San Diego, on the U.S. / Mexico border, and in prison, to professional speaker coaching and conducting storytelling workshops.

Leslie Lowes
Informal Education Specialist, NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA

Leslie Lowes has almost 20 years of leadership positions for NASA education projects, working with regional, state, and national afterschool organizations to infuse fun and real-world STEM activities into afterschool. She firmly believes in the power of personal discovery in afterschool – Leslie oversees a NASA afterschool time curriculum project, and provides STEM professional development for OST leaders to build their interest and capacity for bringing NASA STEM to their programs.

Michelle Lustig, Ed.D, MSW, PPS
Director of Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program & Homeless Education Services, San Diego County Office of Education, San Diego, CA

Michelle Lustig, Ed.D, MSW, PPS is the Director of Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program and Homeless Education with the San Diego County Office of Education as well as the President and CEO of Foster Horizons, Inc. a consulting firm focused on improving the educational outcomes of students in foster care through cross-system collaboration and trauma-informed practices within school systems. She has over 30 years of experience in public and private child welfare, research and education. Dr. Lustig has served as a part-time professor at the USC School of Social Work and the Cal State University, San Marcos School of Education. She has worked for The Child and Adolescent Services Research Center, San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency, Child Welfare Services and Casey Family Programs. She has created several nationally recognized programs that support and increase school stability, and academic outcomes for students in foster care. Under her leadership, a model interagency database was developed that allows secure access to health and education data for children under the jurisdiction of juvenile court in San Diego County. Dr. Lustig believes that educational attainment is the gateway to a successful life and works to ensure that every student she serves has the opportunity to fulfill their academic potential. 

Manijeh Mahmoodzadeh
Director of Impact and Evaluation, Big Citizen HUB, Los Angeles, CA

Manijeh Mahmoodzadeh is a doctoral student in Developmental Psychology and Program Evaluation at Claremont Graduate University. Her work focuses on positive youth development and issues of social justice, emphasizing the role of community programs in empowering youth. She has worked as an applied researcher and evaluator for a variety of youth programs and serves as the Director of Impact and Evaluation for Big Citizen HUB, a youth civic engagement program. Manijeh considers her experience as a youth work practitioner integral to her perspective as an evaluator.

Chad Mann
Community Development Manager, Marathon Kids, Austin, TX

Growing up with a love for the outdoors, sports and coaching youth, the importance of being physically active, and instilling that belief in youth, has become one of the driving forces of Chad's life. After graduating from the University of Idaho (Go Vandals!) with a degree in International Studies, he pursued a career in community development through sports-based initiatives, eventually joining the Marathon Kids team in 2013. As the Community Development Manager for Out-of-School Time programs, Chad works with all of our out-of-school time partners, ensuring easy access to our world-class program and promoting the message that afterschool programming truly works!

Bruno Marchesi
Director of Strategic Expansion, U.S. Soccer Foundation, Washington, D.C.

Bruno Marchesi has been appointed Director of Strategic Expansion of the U.S Soccer Foundation with the goal to enhance, assist and grow the sport of soccer in the United States. Bruno was named one of the Top 16 Most Influential, in Health and Wellness by the National Afterschool Association (NAA) in 2017. He has more than 20 years of afterschool and summer learning experience at all levels including frontline staff, Site Coordinator and Program Manager of afterschool programs. Bruno's passion and drive come from his own core values of humility, integrity, and service.
*BOOST Breakfast Club Blogger 

Fong Marcolongo
Educational and Leadership Consultant, Be the Change Consulting, Oakland, CA

Fong is a classroom coach, facilitator, and trainer for Be the Change consulting. Fong has worked in the field of youth development for the past 10 years. Fong's expertise resides in program design, staff development, youth development, and cultivating strategic partnerships to strengthen afterschool programs. Prior to joining Be the Change, Fong directed several after school programs for the Community Youth Center of San Francisco.

Fong has a contagious passion for her work and supports coaching clients to design thoughtful afterschool programs. She also has an insatiable appetite for books and is currently working on a children's book inspired by the everyday adventures of her toddler. Fong holds a degree in Global Affairs.

Robin Mattaini
Director, Customer Experience, Eleyo, St. Paul, MN

Robin is the Director, Customer Experience at Eleyo and has helped a variety of School District after-school programs around the Country implement online registration and billing within the Eleyo system. Through implementing these various programs, each with their individual needs based on their communities, she has gained valuable insight and knowledge about how district programs are efficiently managing enrollments as well as family accounts through technology.

Cindy McCann
Executive Director, Every Monday Matters, Burbank, CA

Cindy McCann is the Executive Director of Every Monday Matters (EMM), a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people understand why and how much they matter and empowering them to improve their lives, the lives of others, and the world. Cindy has led the charge on 1+ MILLION students discovering how much they matter through EMM's no-cost, You Matter K-12 Social and Emotional Learning curriculum and club program. Cindy has worked as a dedicated professional for over 20 years in and with organizations that specialize in youth and young adult program design and implementation, staff development, culture-building and change management.

Steve McCormick
Director of Education & Outreach, La Jolla Playhouse, La Jolla, CA 

Steve McCormick has been the Director of Education & Outreach at La Jolla Playhouse since 2006 developing programs and partnerships that serve over 35,000 patrons annually both at the Playhouse and at schools throughout San Diego County. During his time at the Playhouse, he has commissioned and produced over a dozen world-premiere productions for youth from high profile playwrights including BD Wong, Barry Kornhauser, Will Power, Karen Zacarìas, Juan Felipe Herrera (former Poet Laureate of the United States) and Ernie Nolan with a piece that was selected for participation in the 2012 New Visions/New Voices program at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and on Arts Education Strategic Planning Committees for both the Chula Vista Elementary and San Diego Unified School Districts and he is the current Co-Vice Chair of the San Diego Unified Visual and Performing Arts Advisory Board. Steve is an active member of Art Education Resource Organization (AERO) San Diego where he has a seat on the Governance Committee and serves as the Chair of the Standards and Accountability Committee. He received his MFA in Theatre for Youth from Arizona State University in 2001 and currently serves on the national board of TYA/USA. Steve has been a guest lecturer at California State San Marcos and the University of California San Diego Extension. Steve has also worked as an educator, dramaturg and/or performer for First Stage Children’s Theater, Utah Shakespearean Festival, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Nashville Children’s Theatre, Childsplay and is a company member of Native Voices at the Autry. He can also be heard playing various aquatic life in multiple video games for the SpongeBob Squarepants TV series.

Tom McFadden
Program Director, Villages Expanded Learning Programs, Monrovia Unified School District, Monrovia, CA

Tom McFadden is a Teacher on Special Assignment who has worked in Expanded Learning for over 5 years. He oversees a very successful expanded learning program at Monrovia USD and is currently a member of the LA County Grantee Advisory Group and a Co-Facilitator of the Community of Practice #3.

Emily Moberly
Founder/CEO, Traveling Stories, San Diego, CA

Emily Moberly is the Founder and CEO of Traveling Stories, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids fall in love with reading by the 4th grade. Since 2010 Emily and her team have established seven international libraries and six StoryTent literacy programs in Southern California. More than 6,400 children improve their reading skills through the Traveling Stories programs each year. In 2016, the National Book Foundation recognized Traveling Stories as an “Innovations in Reading Prize” Honoree for its StoryTent program model.

For her work with Traveling Stories, Emily was named one of the “Top 10 Female Entrepreneurs to Watch in San Diego” by Forbes Magazine; Microsoft featured her in their Do More campaign; 10 News and LEAD San Diego awarded her a Leadership Award and in 2015, and San Diego Magazine named her a finalist for the San Diego Woman of the Year award in 2015 and 2017. In addition, the San Diego Business Journal named her a finalist for the Women Who Mean Business Awards in 2012 and 2015.

Traveling Stories has been featured by Microsoft, the National Head Start Association, Forbes, Huffington Post, Mashable, Medium, 10News, NBC7, Fox5, the San Diego Union Tribune, the San Diego Reader, SDSU, USD, and John Brown University among others.

Christian Moore
Founder, Why Try Organization, Provo, UT

Christian Moore is an internationally renowned speaker, social worker, and author of The Resilience Breakthrough. The WhyTry Program that he authored is used in 18,000 institutions worldwide, and has proven to effectively teach the social and emotional skills needed to thrive in school and life.

JerLene Mosley
Senior Education Consultant, Gallup, Omaha, NE

Senior Education Consultant JerLene Mosley works with schools and districts throughout the U.S. to improve performance through selection, engagement, coaching and development. With 30 years of experience at Gallup, Mosley is an expert in teacher, principal, and staff selection, as well as teacher and student engagement.

Mosely has presented seminars on strengths-based development for more than 100 of Gallup's K-12 education clients. She develops curriculum and presents in-person and online seminars on teacher and principal selection, strengths-based leadership for educators and administrators, and strengths-based approaches to student development.

Mosely earned her bachelor's degree in music education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Metria Munyan
Youth Engagement Project Coordinator, Public Health Institute Center for Wellness and Nutrition, Sacramento, CA

Metria Munyan first joined the Public Health Institute in 2006 supporting a broad variety of nutrition education and obesity prevention strategies and initiatives that reach low-resource Californians through Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) interventions. Metria’s passion for increasing youth opportunity and supporting youth voices in community change approaches complements the Center’s Youth Engagement efforts, and she continues to support Youth-Led Participatory Action Research (YPAR) projects as well as new approaches and innovations. Previously Metria supported youth leadership strategies such as YPAR through the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Youth Engagement Initiative. Provided countless training statewide and, at its peak, provided technical assistance to up to 52 youth projects throughout California. Additionally, she contributed to the creation and dissemination of a statewide beverage education campaign known as the Rethink Your Drink Campaign. Metria also brings extensive event coordination expertise to CWN from in-person and web-based training series, to youth-facilitated trainings for groups with more than 100 young people, and multi-day professional statewide conferences with more than 800 attendees.

Brother Ali Newman
Lyricist | Storyteller | Healer, Newark, CA

Brother Ali is a highly respected Hip Hop artist, speaker, and community organizer from Minneapolis, MN. His decade-long resume includes six critically acclaimed albums, mentorships with Iconic Hip Hop legends Chuck D and Rakim, and performances on late night talk shows with Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon. He's been the subject of Al-Jazeera and NPR pieces and was a keynote speaker at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum. He's landed coveted press features such as Rolling Stone's 40th anniversary "Artist to Watch" and Source Magazine's "Hip Hop Quotables."

Brother Ali has won the hearts and minds of Hip Hop fans worldwide with his intimate songwriting, captivating live performances, and outspoken stance on issues of Justice and Human Dignity. In 2007, Ali was flagged by The US Department of Homeland Security for his controversial critique of America's human rights violations in his song/video "Uncle Sam Goddamn." In the summer of 2012, Ali was arrested in an act of civil disobedience as an organizer of Minnesota's Occupy Homes movement to defend Twin Cities homeowners from unjust foreclosures.

Brother Ali is currently working on his first literary offering, tackling the topics that are discussed in his speaking engagements and workshops.

Christina Oliver
Chief Program Officer, Classroom Inc., New York, NY

Christina brings over 15 years of program design and curriculum creation experience with a focus on engaging youth in high poverty communities with fun reading experiences, and building 21st century skills essential for college and career success. At non-profit, Classroom, Inc. she leads the professional learning and partnership work with schools and community partners ensuring the highest quality learning experiences for educators and youth using Read to Lead workplace learning experiences.

Jesse Oliveros
Program Coordinator, Beyond the Bell, LAUSD, Los Angeles, CA

Jesse Oliveros has been working for the Beyond the Bell Branch Before and After School Program for 18 years. Having initially started as a line staff, he has had the opportunity to connect with participants and staff on various levels. He is currently the Program Coordinator at the Beyond the Bell high school unit. This role allows him the opportunity to exercise his passion to serving the youth in his community.

He is currently spearheading the quality and compliance observation team which is responsible for conducting daily onsite coaching and development site observations for high school program CBO’s. With a proven ability to build relationships, lead teams, and develop programs has helped him be successful in this role. Furthermore, Jesse feels that as a leader within the field, it is his responsibility with to continue to grow and develop his skills. It is though this that leaders can develop the ability to create change within the field.

Zak Parpia
Director of Fiscal Partnerships, California School-Age Consortium, Berkeley, CA

Zakir Parpia joined the CalSAC team in 2010 and has served in various roles and is now serving as Director of Fiscal Partnerships. Zak has an extensive background in sports-based youth development and physical activity-focused afterschool programming. Prior to CalSAC, Zak worked at Coaching Corps, where he coordinated the expansion of the Coaching Corps Program. Zak graduated from the University of San Francisco in 2005 with his Bachelors of Arts in Sociology and minors in Business and Gender/Sexualities.

Dr. Michelle R. Perrenoud
Los Angeles County Office of Education Expanded Learning Technical Assistance Unit, Downey, CA

Dr. Michelle R. Perrenoud is recognized as an educational leader and is particularly renowned for her work in the fields of expanded learning, education and youth development. She has extensive experience with research and program design for older youth programs serving middle and high school students. Michelle is a published author and frequent conference speaker. She serves on various committees focused on statewide leadership and policy development to advance programmatic and instructional capacity at local levels while further addressing the learning needs of youth and building the leadership capacity of practitioners to deliver quality expanded learning experiences.

Erika Petrelli
Senior Director of Leadership Development, The Leadership Program, New York, NY

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika’s been in the field of training for decades, and with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through trainings, coaching, and writing. The legacy Erika strives to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. She blogs weekly, and wrote an interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy. 
*BOOST Breakfast Club Blogger 

Shawn Petty
Director of Training, Westat, San Antonio, TX

Shawn C. Petty is the Training & Development Director for Westat. In this role, he oversees the development of training products, coordinates the efforts of consultants, and provides technical assistance for the Texas ACE Program. Shawn entered the out-of-school-time industry after a decade of experience in the corporate world with the Walt Disney and Target Corporations. Shawn has been a Regional Coordinator for Harris County Department of Education as well as a Texas ACE Project Director. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from BYU-Hawaii and a Masters of Political Management from George Washington University. Mr. Petty is a White-Riley-Peterson Fellow, a National Afterschool Matters Fellow, & a national STEM expert with a PMP certification.

Janae Phillips
Director of Leadership and Education, Harry Potter Alliance, Cranston, RI

Janae Phillips is a community organizer and writer from Southern Arizona. She is the Director of Leadership and Engagement at the Harry Potter Alliance (before you ask: Hufflepuff), and her work in engagement design is transforming the way people think about leadership development. She spends a lot of time thinking about how she can impress SUE the T.rex. You can find her most everywhere @janaeisms. 

Vincent Pompei, Ph.D.
Director, Youth Well-Being Project, Human Rights Campaign, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Vincent Pompei is the Director of the Youth Well-Being Project at the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest civil rights organization dedicated to LGBTQ equality. Previously, he was the Project Director for the Center for Excellence in School Counseling and Leadership, served as President for the California Association of School Counselors and was a National Cadre Trainer for the National Education Association. He also worked as a middle school teacher and high school counselor for ten years. In addition, Pompei authored the LGBTQ section of the American School Counselor Association’s National Model, testified at a congressional hearing on school safety in Washington D.C. and was one of four public educators invited to the White House for their first anti-bullying summit. Recently, he was named one of the Advocate Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 and selected by the National Education Association as a Classroom Superhero. In 2015, Pompei earned a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from San Diego State University.

Jessenia Reyes
Manager of Educational Equity, Advancement Project, Los Angeles, CA

Jessenia Reyes currently serves as the Manager for Educational Equity at Advancement Project California where she will help lead K-12 statewide policy around local control and continuous improvement, teacher pipeline, school finance and alignment with the Early Care and Education with K-12 education systems. She is a first generation student who was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley where she attended local public schools and received her B.A. in Child and Adolescent Development at California State University, Northridge. While earning her B.A., Jessenia worked full time for an after school program that focused on underperforming middle schools in low-income areas; subsequently, she developed a passion to work with at risk youth, and undocumented families within working class communities. As an advocate for education, she has participated in multiple education platforms to help support families and students. Due to her experience on the ground with multiple CBO’s and school systems, she believes that any form of education is the key to help unleash the power families and students to overcome environmental and personal challenges. Jessenia received her MSW at University of Southern California, with a concentration on Community Organization, Planning and Administration with a certificate in Nonprofit Management and Policy.

Richard Reyes
Executive Director, PLUS ME Project, Los Angeles, CA

Richard Reyes is the founder and executive director of the PLUS ME project, a youth development nonprofit based in Los Angeles that inspires students through sharing personal narratives. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Occidental College in Critical Theory/Social Justice and his Master of Arts degree from California State University, Los Angeles in Educational Foundations. Richard has shared his personal narrative with over 75,000 students throughout Southern California and has supported thousands of others with discovering their own narratives.

Rick Rood
Speaker/Coach, AfterSchool Answers, Livermore, CA

Rick began presenting his synthesized ideas at the California School-Age Consortium's State Conference in 1999 in a staff motivation-and-retention workshop entitled "Burned Out or On Fire?". Since then, Rick has been presenting workshops and keynote addresses for a variety of statewide Educational organizations.

Rick is the author of the book "Games Teachers Play Before the Bell Rings".

Aleah Rosario
Director of Programs, California School-Age Consortium, Berkeley, CA

Aleah Rosario joined the CalSAC team in 2013 and now serves as the Director of Programs. Prior to CalSAC, Aleah was a Senior Consultant with Consult 4 Kids and worked at Riverbank Unified School District's afterschool programs addressing the academic needs of Riverbank's unique, rural population. Aleah received her undergraduate degree in Political Science from CSU Stanislaus. She was also recognized as an Afterschool Next Generation leader by the National Afterschool Association and is a Wright Riley Peterson Policy Fellow. Aleah is also a Cerified CalSAC Trainer and fellow of the Leadership Development Institute.

Ed Samperio
Regional Director, Beyond the Bell, LAUSD, Gardena, CA

Ed Samperio has been a Director for the LAUSD Beyond the Bell program since 2001. He began as a front line staff member in 1987 at his local elementary school. Having grown up as an after-school participant he knows the positive influence that we as extended day learning staff have on the youth we serve.

Stu Semigran
President & Co-Founder, EduCare Foundation, Van Nuys, CA

Stu Semigran, the co-founder and president of EduCare Foundation, has more than 30 years developing and facilitating programs in educational settings worldwide. EduCare currently provides expanded learning programs for over 50 high schools and middle schools in southern California. He is the author of "Making the Best of Me: A Handbook for Student Excellence and Self-Esteem". Stu currently serves on Beyond the Bell’s Take Action Campaign Steering Committee & the CDE’s Expanded Learning Division’s SEL Planning Team. In 2012, Stu was recognized as a David Chow Humanitarian Award Foundation recipient for his service to youth.

Khariyyah Shabazz
Assistant Programmatic Director, Higher Ground, Oakland, CA

Khariyyah has worked in youth development for the past 10 years. Six of those years have been spent facilitating after school programs in East Oakland. Within those programs, Khariyyah has conducted successful STEM summer camps and created the peer leadership workforce development department. Currently, she works employing middle and high school students to work within after school programs. She is also responsible for training site managers within schools and developing organizational partnerships.

Kristi Sheen
Out-of-School Time Coordinator, Santee School District, Santee, CA

Kristi has been fortunate to spend well over 25 years in a career that she loves, working with children and youth in out-of-school time programs. She has also spent over 18 years sharing her experience with other professionals. Kristi is a long time Certified CalSAC Trainer.

Sandy Slade
President/CEO, Skillastics, Corona, CA

For over 22 years, Sandy Spin Slade was considered one of the best basketball handlers in the world, performing for thousands at NBA half-times, schools, and special events around the globe.

Additionally, she revolutionized the educational market by introducing Skillastics®, oversize board games that allow all children to have a positive experience being physically active. Since 2002, Skillastics has been enjoyed by over 10 million students in over 25,000 education settings nationwide. Sandy is also known for being one of the premier session speakers/presenters at Physical Education & After School Conferences throughout the country, inspiring thousands to enjoy all the benefits physical activity provides.

In January 2017, her high school alma mater named their gymnasium, Sandy Spin Slade Gymnasium in her honor. 

Amy M. Smith, Ph.D.
Director of Educational Programs, Career Training Concepts, Inc., Lincoln, NE

Amy Smith is Director of Educational Programs at Career Training Concepts, Inc., where she applies her passion for children’s social and emotional well-being on projects aimed to stop bullying and promote respect in schools.  She earned a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Research from The University of Memphis.  As a researcher at the Center for Research in Educational Policy in Memphis, Dr. Smith was responsible for research projects aimed at discovering instructional methods to improve student achievement. 

Prior to joining the Center for Research, Dr. Smith taught in inclusive school environments with a Masters level Tennessee teaching license.  She instructed college courses on child development for teachers, consulted with schools in the West Tennessee area, developed and delivered numerous workshops for teachers and administrators, accomplished several publications, and studied innovative education in Italy.  Dr. Smith currently serves on the Board of Directors for a charter school in Utah.

Kara Allen Soldati, MSW, Ed.D
President + CEO, United Friends of the Children, Los Angeles, CA

For the past fifteen years, Dr. Kara Allen Soldati has been leading and developing organizations that ensure adequate access to critical services for children, families, and communities in under-resourced areas. Kara's "micro heart" ensures that foster youth remain central to her personal and family life while her "macro brain" stays focused on disrupting and dismantling systems that don't center and solve for the most marginalized.

Kara graduated from Purdue University in Indiana before driving west to begin her career as a Special Education teacher in Oakland, CA. Her time as a teacher made her quickly realize that she wanted to work on systems change visioning and implementation, setting out to do this in both the US and abroad. Since her time in the classroom over fifteen years ago, Kara has led high-performing organizations in both the public and private sectors in Boston, Kampala (Uganda), Port-au-Prince (Haiti) and throughout Northern and Southern California. Kara received her Masters of Social Work from the University of Southern California and completed her Doctorate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice at Loyola Marymount University.

Kara lives in Northeast Los Angeles with her partner and their 4-year-old daughter. In her free time, she teaches graduate level courses at Pacific Oaks, amasses books she'll someday read, and plays basketball in LA's rec league.

Sharona Sommer
Director of Family Services, College Internship Program, Pittsfield, MA

Sharona Sommer, Certified Professional Coach, is Director of Family Services at the College Internship Program. Sharona Sommer has over 20 years in the Special Education field and is the founder of Sharona Coaching and Consulting. Sharona is lead trainer and a content contributor for CIP’s Autism and Learning Differences Active Learning Teaching Toolkit.

Kristin Stayer
Consultant, Anderson, IN

Kristin Stayer is a community developer, creative placemaker, and consultant. Currently serving as a consultant, Kristin works with organizations to design programs and curriculum. She has previously served as Executive Director of the Park Place Community Center, Blog Manager for BOOST Collaborative, and Associate City Director for the Center for Student Missions in Philadelphia. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Anderson University, a Master of Urban Studies and Community Development from Eastern University, and is in the process of completing her Certificate of Creative Placemaking through the New Hampshire Institute of Art.

Bryan Stevenson
Founder & Executive Director, Equal Justice Initiative, Montgomery, AL 

Bryan Stevenson is the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. Mr. Stevenson is a widely acclaimed public interest lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated and the condemned. Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill and aiding children prosecuted as adults. Mr. Stevenson has successfully argued several cases in the United States Supreme Court and recently won a historic ruling that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger are unconstitutional. Mr. Stevenson and his staff have won reversals, relief or release for over 115 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row. Mr. Stevenson has initiated major new anti-poverty and anti-discrimination efforts that challenge the legacy of racial inequality in America, including major projects to educate communities about slavery, lynching and racial segregation. Mr. Stevenson is also a Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law.

Mr. Stevenson’s work fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system has won him numerous awards including the prestigious MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Prize, the National Medal of Liberty from the American Civil Liberties Union after he was nominated by United States Supreme Court Justice John Stevens, the Public Interest Lawyer of the Year by the National Association of Public Interest Lawyers, and the Olaf Palme Prize in Stockholm, Sweden for international human rights. The American Bar Association has honored Mr. Stevenson with its John Minor Public Service and Professionalism Award. In 2002, he received the Alabama State Bar Commissioners Award. In 2003, the SALT Human Rights Award was presented to Mr. Stevenson by the Society of American Law Teachers. In 2004, he received the Award for Courageous Advocacy from the American College of Trial Lawyers and also the Lawyer for the People Award from the National Lawyers Guild. In 2006 New York University presented Mr. Stevenson with its Distinguished Teaching Award. Mr. Stevenson won the Gruber Foundation International Justice Prize and has been awarded the NAACP William Robert Ming Advocacy Award, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association Lifetime Achievement Award, the Ford Foundation Visionaries Award and the Roosevelt Institute Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom from Fear Award. In 2012, Mr. Stevenson received the American Psychiatric Association Human Rights Award, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Fred L. Shuttlesworth Award, and the Smithsonian Magazine American Ingenuity Award in Social Progress. Mr. Stevenson was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Science in 2014 and most recently won the Lannan Foundation Prize for Human and Civil Rights.

Mr. Stevenson has received 26 honorary degrees including degrees from Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University and Washington University. He is the recent author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Just Mercy, which was named by Time Magazine as one of the 10 Best Books of Nonfiction for 2014 and has been awarded several honors including a 2015 NAACP Image Award.

Brandon T. Taylor, D.M
Assistant Professor, Fresno State Department of Recreation Administration, Fresno, CA

Dr. Taylor completed his doctoral degree in organizational management and leadership after spending more than 14 years working in the community recreation setting within the Central Valley of California. His professional experience includes municipal recreation programming and planning for youth and adults, community special-events, and outcome driven out-of-school time programming. Dr. Taylor currently serves as the Coordinator of Community Recreation and Youth Services emphasis. Brandon Taylor has served as a Certified CalSAC Trainer since 2016.

Cassandra Terry
Associate Director, Richmond Village Beacon, Richmond District Neighborhood Center, San Francisco, CA

Born and raised in San Francisco, Cassandra "Cass" Terry has been an advocate and leader in out-of-school time for over 12 years. She earned her teaching credential at University of Portland, but decided afterschool was the place for her. Cass has served as a Certified CalSAC Trainer since 2016.

Dan Thoene
CEO, Judo Math, San Diego, CA

Dan is the CEO of Judo Math Inc. He's been teaching educators how to implement math in a more engaging way for the past 8 years, reaching 5 different countries around the world. He's also spent 15 years in the classroom teaching math at High Tech High in San Diego. Before teaching, Dan spent 12 years as a Sports Broadcaster, earning an Emmy Award in 2001.

Sonia Toledo
President, Dignity of Children, Inc., New York, NY

Sonia M. Toledo began in 2008 with the vision of creating programs that would support children and youth holistically. She has over 25 years of experience working in the after-school field building quality programming for students in elementary through high school during their off time. Sonia has worked for Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA, Children’s Aid Society, Child Care Inc., and served as President of the After-School Works NY. When she founded Dignity of Children, Inc. she decided that the best approach for child and youth development was to educate adults to help them create environments for children that would make them feel emotionally safe while allowing them to develop their self-worth. Dignity of Children, Inc., a Minority and Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) vendor, has served child care programs across the five boroughs and surrounding counties leaving each client satisfied and returning for more of Sonia’s intoxicating attitude towards child and youth development. With trainings fit for anyone working with school-aged children, and workshops that encourage programs to include the entire family in helping their child develop, Dignity of Children, Inc. has become a leader in child and youth development in New York City.

David Tuero
Sr. Director, Out-of-School Programs, LAUSD - Beyond the Bell, Los Angeles, CA

David Tuero has worked with before and after school programs for over 25 years. He is currently the Senior Director for Beyond the Bell Branch’s Ready-Set-Go Before School Program, which services 100 sites.

Leo Vanwarmerdam
Partner, Fulcrum Adventures, Los Angeles, CA

Leo Vanwarmerdam has been exploring experiential education and Leadership development for the past 20 years. He was the director of program development for 10 years before becoming a partner at Fulcrum Adventures in Santa Monica, CA. Leo has worked with thousands of students and staff of all ages and backgrounds over the past two decades and is known for his contagious energy. He has a game/activity for every group size and style and loves teaching the facilitative opportunities for growth from those games not just playing them. For the past 4 years Leo has also spent a quarter of his year on location working for the show SURVIVOR.

Kristi Vincent
Read Naturally Coach, Read Naturally, El Segundo, CA

Kristi Vincent is currently a national presenter in reading, technology and curriculum and has a masters degree in education. During her 12 years as an educator, she worked with struggling readers and ELL students at the middle/elementary school level in Colorado and California. Kristi has also been an instructional coach and helped to implement the Read Naturally program at her Reading First school as well as train the staff. She has used Read Naturally for years and has experienced firsthand how motivating and successful Read Naturally's strategies are with students.

Jess Wadleigh
Education Specialist, Skillastics, Corona, CA

Jess Wadleigh has always been an active participant in health and fitness. Through her athletic participation in college she achieved a National Championship in eld hockey and was granted Academic All-American status for three consecutive years. In 2004, she graduated from Rowan University (NJ) with a Cum Laude Bachelor of Arts in Health and Exercise Science and a New Jersey Single Subject Physical Education teaching credential.

Jess started teaching physical education to grades K through 8 in the year 2005. She focused on building self-esteem, physical fitness and core values in all of her students. In the 2009- 2010 school year, Jess was honored with the Teacher of the Year Award. During this same year, Jess obtained her California Single Subject Physical Education Teaching Credential making her credentialed in two states. During this year, she also took on the role as the school's Athletic Director.

For nine summers, Jess was an assistant director for a multi-sports camp at South End Racquet and Health Club. There she was responsible for assisting children, ages 5-13, develop various athletic, sportsmanship, teamwork and leadership skills.
Currently, Jess is the National Accounts Manager for Skillastics. She enjoys doing workshops throughout the country that promote the development of fitness and sports-specific c skills for children of all ages. She finds much satisfaction in watching people develop into individuals that value and understand the importance of lifelong fitness.

Mike Walsh
President, California School Boards Association (CSBA), Sacramento, CA

Elected to serve on the Board of Trustees for the Butte County Office of Education in June of 2010, Mike Walsh shortly thereafter was appointed to CSBA’s Delegate Assembly.  In December of 2011 he was elected to serve on the CSBA Board of Directors as the Director-at-Large, County.  During his time at CSBA, Mike has served on numerous committees, including chair of the Annual Education Conference Planning Committee, and Chair of the Legislative Committee.

In 1992, Mike was hired as a Drop-out Prevention Services Coordinator for the Butte County Office of Education (BCOE). In this role, he identified high-risk students and created plans to help address their specific needs and goals. In 2005 Walsh co-founded Beacon Results, an organizational growth and leadership development firm that works primarily with school districts and non-profits to help them develop and align their strategic plans. Mike has also worked with the Region 2 Technical Assistance Lead to create systems training front-line and managerial staff to ensure high quality ASES and 21st Century programs.

In addition to his service to school boards across the state, Mike also serves on three major committees of the National School Boards Association and has written and published multiple articles focused on equity and improving outcomes for underserved student groups. Walsh’s current volunteer activities include working one day each semester at LPHS teaching history students how particular personality traits can be a predictor of behaviors in leaders. Mike holds a BA and MA in Organizational Management with a specialization in Leadership from Ashford University.

Liz Weir
National Learning and Development Manager, Camp Australia, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Liz Weir is very committed to continuing to provide contemporary learning and development approaches, policies and practices which will support the development of Educators working with children and youth. Having recently completed a Master of Education, specializing in Educational Leadership and Well-being in Inclusive Schooling she is very passionate about supporting children's well being. As the National Learning and Development Manager with Camp Australia her role involves: Being an executive team member of Camp Australia Senior Leadership Team contributing to the companies strategic plan and business goals. Leading and Managing of the Training and Development Team (Inclusion of a Global Team). As well as the creation of a Nationally and Internationally researched and written Training and Development Framework including VSHAPE for Active Supervision in Australia.

Gwynette Williams
Director of Programs, Collective for Youth, Omaha, NE

Gwyn Williams holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and is enrolled in Psychology Master's Program. Mrs. Williams is the Program Director at Collective for Youth, a non-profit agency located in Doulas County, Nebraska. Mrs. Williams joined Collective for Youth in 2012, and is responsible for data collection, administrative program development and management of program site directors and staff. Prior to joining the Collective, she designed, implemented, and coordinated a middle school program for four years as a Site Director.

Mrs. Williams has participated in numerous community, school and agency presentations on the topic of after school programming, STEAM, SEL, and school linkages. Mrs. Williams has created STEAM and SEL initiatives in Nebraska School Districts.

Damita “Penny” Willis
Training and Program Development, Lions Club International, Oak Brook, IL

Penny Willis is a Training and Program Development Specialist for the internationally recognized Lions Quest K-12 Social and Emotional Learning Programs. Lions Quest is a program of Lions Clubs International, the world’s largest volunteer service organization.

For the past two decades, Penny has trained educational leadership, practitioners about innovative ways to design, develop and implement family, school and community interventions.

Through her work at Lions Clubs International Penny strives to support the social and emotional well-being and development of young people by developing SEL resources and training materials for school-based and Out-of-School Time initiatives, training educators, principals and school district leaders, and providing school and district wide implementation support. Current projects include developing research-based tools to foster social and emotional teaching practices including curriculum, classroom observation and professional learning strategies.

Rachel Willis
Research Project Manager, Kansas Enrichment Network, Lawrence, KS

Rachel Willis is a Research Project Manager for the Kansas Enrichment Network with KU-CPPR. Rachel is primarily focused on network building through creating and providing technical support for Kansas 21st Century Community Learning Centers as well as coordinating the Network’s policy efforts. She travels across the state conducting site observations. She also hosts conferences and roundtables, organizes webinars and conference calls, and presents on a variety of topics related to out-of-school time. Rachel Willis was selected to the White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellowship Class of 2014-15 and now serves as an afterschool Fellow focusing on advocacy work for the field. She also coordinators the Kansas Regional Afterschool Ambassador program and the Day at the Capitol. In addition to providing technical assistance and policy management, Rachel specializes in distribution of communications (newsletters, social media, etc.), event planning, and grant writing. Before joining the Kansas Enrichment Network, she served as the Executive Director of Kids Voting USA. In this position, Rachel led committees that created new curriculum and matrixes, organized fundraising events and supervised employees. Rachel graduated with her Masters of Public Administration from The University of Kansas in May, 2015.

Ty Woods
Executive Director, Artportunity Knocks, Atlanta, GA

Ty Woods has been in the youth development and STEAM education profession for over 15 years. She is a dynamic speaker recognized nationally and has delivered workshops on the topics of: nonprofit development, startups, program development, and achieving your goals. She has worked for agencies such as: The Jenesse Center, Family Resource, Boys and Girls Club, City of Covina, and the Cobb County School District and assisted with Arts curriculum development at each agency. Her experience has led her to receive recognition from local government officials and national agencies for her work in leadership, nonprofit development and Arts/Music Education and Child advocacy. Her education spans over a decade which includes an Associates in Early Childhood Education, a Bachelors degree in Business Management from Life University where she graduated valedictorian, and an MBA from Coles College of Business. She also has over 20 years of Performing Arts Experience leading in plays such as Dream Girls, Kingdom Come, and Phantom of the Opera. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, writing scripts and songs, mentoring youth (especially girls), serving in her church, and going to the movies.

Christine Woolford
Professional Development & Quality Manager, Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL), Dorchester, MA

Christine began her career as a classroom teacher and soon realized that there was a need for more that she simply could not provide to her students and families during the traditional school day. She transitioned out of the classroom and perused a master's degree in Educational Policy and Leadership from the University of Michigan. She has since worked for a number of impressive non-profit organizations such as The Education Trust, Citizen Schools, and community-based organizations. In these roles, Christine has lead, implemented and executed out-of-school time programs for children and families from disadvantaged communities. Her experiences in professional development, curriculum design, program coordination and development, and teaching have left an imprint in rural and urban communities up and down the east coast and in the mid-west.

In her current role, Christine develops and facilitates professional development for youth development professionals and educational leaders and monitors program quality at Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL).

When she is not working, Christine enjoys serving her community as a Junior League member and Girl Scout troop leader and spending time with her fiancé and their lively pets.

Nikki Yamashiro
Director of Research, Afterschool Alliance, Washington, D.C.

Nikki Yamashiro is the Director of Research. She works with the Vice President of Policy and Research to coordinate and implement annual research activities, design surveys on pressing issues in the afterschool field and analyze research findings, communicating the need for and great successes of afterschool programs to policy makers, afterschool providers, advocates, and the public.


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