Meet the 2019 BOOST Conference Speakers & Presenters
Rafael Acosta is a Regional Director with 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 high quality, student-centered and meaningful learning opportunities during the out of school hours. Rafa is also a volunteer basketball coach for LA City Parks and John F. Kennedy High School in Granada Hills, CA. Lastly, Rafa is the proud father of Alyssa and Samantha Acosta who he hopes one day benefit from BTB programming in their future.
Kara Allen Soldati, MSW, Ed.D
Dr. Kara Allen Soldati serves as the outgoing President & CEO of United Friends of the Children, a nonprofit that supports young people in foster care and alumni of care on their journey to self-sufficiency. She has more than 10 years of executive management and strategic development experience in both the public and private sectors in addition to her time as a teacher and social worker. Prior to her current role, Kara served as Executive Director of CoachArt, where she now serves on the Board of Directors and as a member of the Executive Committee. Kara also serves on the Board of Directors of Black & Brown Futures, an organization utilizing technology as a public servant to equity, and on the Board of Directors of Wayfarer Foundation.
Kara received her undergraduate degree from Purdue University and earned a Masters of Social Work from the University of Southern California. She completed her Doctorate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice at Loyola Marymount University and researched labeling and trauma through narrative therapy and critical race theory.
Kara also teaches graduate-level courses ranging from nonprofit finance and business development to integration of theories of human development with a variety of social issues, forces, and dynamics and speaks and trains on a variety of topics including change leadership, women in the workforce, partnership development, EQ, and social impact work. She guests on nonprofit, equity, and parenthood podcasts, bikes around Los Angeles in search of great donuts with her daughter, and plays basketball in LA’s recreational league.
Nicole Amri is the Program Director for SAY Sí, a national-award-winning creative youth development program in San Antonio, Texas. Amri currently serves on local and national committees such as city-wide collective impact initiatives: SA2020 and Excel Beyond the Bell SA and national groups: the Artists for Racial Equity [ARE] Network and National Advisory Committee to the Creative Youth Development National Partnership. As a multidisciplinary artist, her creative work predominantly explores human rights issues with a focus on interpersonal relationships and societal conditions. Amri received a BFA in Painting and a BA in Communication: Public Relations from University of Texas at San Antonio. She is also 2006 SAY Sí alumna.
Rachelle Archer, M.A.
Rachelle Archer (M.A.) is the Social Emotional Learning Coach/Expressive Arts Specialist at the Monarch School, a one of a kind K-12 school for youth impacted by homelessness in San Diego. As a founding member of the Monarch School Project, the non-profit arm of this unique public-private partnership, Rachelle has devoted over 20 years to building and facilitating youth development programs. She pioneered the school’s mentor program, the arts enrichment wheel, the after-school program, and the in-school expressive arts therapy program. Her efforts have contributed to the school’s internationally recognized model for education for youth impacted by trauma and homelessness. As Monarch School’s SEL Coach, Rachelle provides training, mentoring and professional development to all direct service staff, community volunteers and mentors, aligning the team with Monarch’s core values, philosophies and approaches, and social-emotional learning targets. Her training in Expressive Arts Therapy, Education & Coaching imbues everything she does with rich uses of metaphor, creative expression, embodiment, experiential learning, and play. Her passion for ensuring that vulnerable and underrepresented youth populations undergo transformative educational experiences in all learning spaces has inspired her to launch Artful Leadership, a consulting business that inspires, equips and empowers leaders to effectively transform youth lives. She’s the devoted mother of a magnificent 11-year-old goofball and a tough tuxedo cat named Pedro. She loves to cook while singing and dancing to old skool soul music and has been known to bring a smile to faces with her new hobby-playing the ukulele.
Iyari was born and raised in San Diego where she grew up involved with the arts and community advocacy with her families non-profit, Izcalli, an organization which empowers Latinx students through the arts and education. Due to her upbringing, much of Iyari’s work revolves around connecting the arts with education and community engagement. She received her B.A. in Anthropology from CSULB and joined the exhibitions team at the New Children’s Museum and also taught as a Teaching Artist. She is the current Middle School Specialist at BLCI, where she’s integrated her art education background into BLCI’s college readiness programming.
Mr. Arteaga was a part of the San Diego Unified School District Race/Human Relations and Advocacy Department for 15 years, training staff and entire departments on Culturally Relevant Instructional Strategies, Cultural Proficiency, Restorative Practices, and Trauma-Informed Care. Currently, he is an Artist in Residence with the Jacobs Foundation and continues to work for the San Diego Unified School District. He is also the Executive Director of Izcalli, a local nonprofit organization that has worked with at-risk youth for over 20 years. He is a writer and actor with Teatro Izcalli, a nationally known Chicanx comedy troupe, and his work with Izcalli’s “Circulo de Hombres” program that focuses on the arts, mentoring, and Restorative Circle practices has reached hundreds of youth, including many distinguished San Diego civic and arts leaders. Mr. Arteaga has conducted various workshops with community organizations that work with youth on building community and incorporating Restorative Circles into their programming. He also served as a Commissioner for the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and has presented at international and world conferences on Restorative Practices. His work has appeared in documentaries in England, Canada, and PBS. He is a published poet, playwright, actor and graduate from UCSD.
Mike and Chelsea Ashcraft
Mike and Chelsea are internationally recognized speakers and trainers that founded an organization that has been a Top 5 Workplace in New Mexico six years in a row. The organization provides child & youth development programs and staff training. Mike taught courses in brain-based teaching for Concordia University. Mike is a former President of the NMSACA and the NMAEYC. Chelsea teaches courses in leadership, early childhood guidance, and teaching strategies at Central New Mexico College. They are authors of Best Practices: Guidelines for School-Age Programs, Leading to Learn: Learning to Lead, and 100 Games that Build Community F.A.S.T.
Meet Atticus! He is an 11-year-old Golden Retriever and certified therapy dog. For over 6 years, Atticus has provided emotional comfort, affection, and calming energy to children, adults, and seniors at different facilities, including nursing homes, hospitals, libraries, and schools/colleges. For the past 4 years, Atticus has also been an Ambassador for the “Ready, Pet, Go” therapy dog program at the San Diego International Airport, offering stress relief and cheer to travelers. Outside of his volunteer work, Atticus enjoys playing at dog beach, car rides, and meeting new friends. @yourbestfriendatticus
Paige is the Associate Program Coordinator for the California AfterSchool Network (CAN). Paige started with CAN in March 2016 as the Administrative Assistant and was since promoted to her new position in August 2017. Paige received her Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Psychology at California State University Sacramento. She has a strong background in supporting youth with special needs as an applied behavior analysis tutor. Paige was recently awarded the National Afterschool Association’s 2018 Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders.
Dr. Bertice Berry
Sociologist Bertice Berry, Ph.D. is a best-selling author and award-winning lecturer who has been named Comedian of The Year, Lecturer of the Year, and Entertainer of the Year. She has published 11 best-selling books in both fiction and non-fiction and has won numerous awards and accolades for both her writing and presentations.
Berry has had her own nationally syndicated television show and has hosted, interviewed and made numerous television, documentary and radio appearances on a variety of diverse venues including The Tonight Show, Oprah Winfrey, Between The Lions, Crossfire, 20-20, NPR, PBS, and Comedy Central and CNN.
Berry has used her unique gifts and talents as a writer and ghostwriter for others on a wide range of topics including race and gender issues, sociological studies, stratification, healthcare reform, humor, spirituality, sexuality, slavery and the abolitionist movement, weight loss and wellness, relationships, servant leadership, transformational leadership, diversity and love.
Berry has led parades, had classrooms named after her and has been awarded over 10 honorary doctorates. She earned her own doctoral degree from Kent State University at the age of 26 and still sees her most fulfilling achievement and role in life as that of mother to her 5 adopted children.
“If you ain’t dead, you ain’t done,” a character in one of Berry’s novels says.
Berry believes that every one of us has been given a unique purpose and it is our obligation to find it and use it to improve first our own self and then for those we live and work with.
Dr. Erin Browder
Erin Browder is a Leadership and Organizational Development Consultant. She specializes in building safe and supportive workplaces, leadership development, organizational culture, and capacity building. She has provided strategic support for school improvement and turnaround efforts within the greater Los Angeles area and school districts nationwide. Erin is a certified Cognitive Coach and trained in systems change, emotional intelligence, restorative practices, and organizational mindfulness. She is currently a doctoral candidate at Johns Hopkins University (MD).
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), BOOST and several Phys Ed. state conferences.
Maria C. Castilleja
Maria Castilleja was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela; she is a retired administrator from the Sweetwater Union High School District. The last position she held was the one of Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction. She also served as an Assistant Principal and Principal at different junior high school and high schools. Ms. Castilleja holds a bachelors of arts in special education. She earned a masters degree in special education from Sonoma State University. She holds credentials in counseling, Spanish and school administration. Currently, she works as an SEL trainer for the Sanford Harmony Program at National University.
Rick Castro is a Regional Director with the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Beyond the Bell Elementary School Unit. Rick has been working in the after school field since 2000 when he first started on the playground. Rick has worked closely with a variety of Community-Based Organizations in helping provide an outstanding recreational component. Rick gets his motivation from when he was a child and not having the luxury of playing sports along with being a father to a set of twin boys that are currently active in an after school program. He treats all of his programs as if his twins were attending that program. Rick also is one of the main trainers for the Beyond the Bell’s Risk Management team. He helped redesign the training format to make Risk Management trainings more interactive and more fun. If learning is something you want to do, Rick has a way to teach you something new.
Cedrice is a soulful and inspiring vocalist that is finding her way in a world that is often dictated by labels and boundaries. She is an artist redefining what it means to find your way in a world that doesn't give you directions. Cedrice is a focused creative who has a range of talents that not only include singer/songwriter, but is also a model, actress, producer, visionary, and has recently become a highly sought out speaker. In 2018, she was one of the 10 artists across America selected to be a part of a nationwide tour with Jameson Whiskey spirits. In 2017, she acted in her first debut Off Broadway show "Agnus" in New York City and prior to that she held the lead role in the premiere of a Spoken Word Opera called Ordinary Magic. Inspired by her community and family, she captivates audiences with honest conviction, sophistication, and soulfulness. It's what keeps her work thriving and in demand. She recently released her first single, "Woman" which includes a music video and is available on all major platforms. She is currently working on her debut EP that will be available next spring.
Anna received her bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Neuroscience from Scripps College where she learned that all scientific pursuits require creative thinking. She has become deeply interested in avenues where art, science and tech overlap. Additionally, she has been working with youth in many different capacities for the last 10 years and has always been fascinated by the ways they think about and interact with the world. She is passionate about making arts and tech education more accessible for marginalized communities and is excited and humbled to be learning with such a dynamic team of educators, researchers, and students in this work.
Matt D’Arrigo is a passionate advocate for the transformative power of the arts, especially with underserved youth and communities. He is the Director of Creative Youth Development (CYD) for the Clare Rose Foundation in San Diego, CA where he helps strengthen the field of CYD locally, regionally, and nationally by building the capacity of organizations through coalition building, advocacy, grant-making, and hands-on technical support. The Clare Rose Foundation is the lead partner and driver of the San Diego Creative Youth Development Network.
Prior to joining Clare Rose Foundation, D’Arrigo was the Founder and CEO of A Reason To Survive (ARTS), a nationally recognized CYD organization in National City, CA. His work with ARTS was 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 best-selling 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”.
Opening up spaces where multiple perspectives, divergent points of view and orientations are supported and encouraged are just a few of the reasons Stacey stays motivated to work in the dynamic field of youth development. Of the many roles she has inhabited: program implementer; project manager; actor; director; therapist, she receives her greatest joy in a room full of people dedicated to improving the lives of young people and supporting that endeavor. Stacey has worked extensively throughout the Bay Area, the state of California and nationally, demonstrating her commitment to creating quality environments for ALL youth.
Clint works for the Missouri Afterschool Network providing coaching, training, and technical support, as well as laughter, to out of school time programs throughout Missouri. He is a highly qualified educator possessing extensive experience teaching in the classroom and in the out of school time 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 is the Executive Director for the California AfterSchool Network (CAN). Jeff has worked with CAN since its inception in 2006, first as Program Coordinator, then as Program Director and as Interim Executive Director. 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, and provide effective supports for English learners. 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 of the expanded learning landscape.
Jeff had the fortunate opportunity to begin his career in expanded learning as an Americorps volunteer in the CalServes expanded learning program. In addition to his long tenure at CAN, Jeff is excited to lend his experience in expanded learning program development and implementation, informal science education, as well as early learning to the important work of the California AfterSchool Network.
In his spare time, Jeff enjoys working on the completion of his Master’s Degree in Community Development, bicycling the American River Parkway, music, travel, and spending quality time with his wife Kate, daughter Zoe, and son Austin.
Gabriela B. Delgado
Gabriela B. Delgado has worked in education for over 18 years. She provides professional development training to school staff and community agencies on topics including student engagement; facilitation of support groups; parent involvement; restorative practices; adolescent female development and empowerment; trauma-informed practices; and crisis response. Gabriela has a Master of Arts in Education/Counseling and Guidance with a Pupil Personnel Services 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.
Matt Deitsch, 21 year old Chief Strategist of March For Our Lives, graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS in 2016 and Santa Monica College in 2017. Matt has a unique background as both an artist and educator. A NYT bestselling author, Matt uses his ability as a storyteller to convey complex gun violence policy in order to save lives.
Kendrick Dial is an example of what is possible when you focus on your strengths, and you are able to couple your purpose with your passion. He is a social worker as well as an artist who serves in a diverse range of roles that enable him to use his abilities as a teaching artist with the Old Globe Theatre, an EOPS counselor with San Diego City College, a Strengths Finder coach, and trainer with Public Child Welfare Training Academy. Kendrick manages an inspiring and soulful artist by the name of Cedrice. He serves as the front man for the award-winning band The Lyrical Groove, and is also a playwright, poet, and actor.
Earl J. Edwards is a Ph.D. candidate at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. His research interests focus on how public schools can better support vulnerable student populations through educational policy and pedagogy. Earl has over ten years of professional experience in youth development and curriculum design. He has also co-authored a graduate course curricula focusing on educational leadership development in urban public schools for Teachers College school leadership program. Earl has also founded and contributed to several youth development programs that support Black and Latino males across the country.
Jacquie Estee is a career educator with experience as a classroom teacher, principal, director of staff development, executive director of curriculum and staff development, assistant superintendent of human resources and superintendent of schools. She worked in the Westside Community Schools in Omaha, Nebraska for forty years. Jacquie also has taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels at Midland University and the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her passion is to investigate strategies to meet the needs of all students and help build the capacities of others as they work with youth.
Ian P. Farrell
Ian Farrell is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. He attended Harvard Law School on a Fulbright Scholarship, where he received an LL.M, and also received a Masters in Philosophy from the University of Texas. Ian's teaching and research cover criminal law and procedure, constitutional law, and the philosophy of law. Ian's research has been published in, amongst others, the California Law Review, Texas Law Review, Boston College Law Review, William and Mary Law Journal, Yale Law Journal Online, and the Columbia Law Review Sidebar. Ian was named the law school's Most Outstanding Professor in 2017.
Kelly Faustino is an Education Programs Consultant for the Expanded Learning Division. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development from California State University, Sacramento and a Master’s degree in Human Behavior. Prior to coming to the Expanded Learning Division of the California Department of Education, Kelly worked for the California AfterSchool Network providing coordination to efforts at improving overall expanded learning program quality, instruction, assessment, and continuous improvements for students throughout California. Kelly spent seven years providing direct service for an expanded learning program in Sacramento, CA.
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 is an international speaker in the area of using games as a teaching strategy and brings over 30 years of education to his Main Presenter Bio 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.
Dr. Nia Imani Fields
Dr. Nia Imani Fields is the Maryland 4-H Youth Development Specialist with the University of Maryland Extension. She has a doctorate in Urban Educational Leadership and an M.S. in Urban Affairs and Public Policy with a focus in Community and Youth Development. Throughout her career, her focus has been to work towards the positive development of youth, families, and communities. As a 4-H Specialist, Dr. Fields is primarily responsible for the design, implementation, and evaluation of curricular systems and program development. Her research interests center around positive youth development’s relationship to social capital and social justice.
Michael Funk was appointed Director of the Expanded Learning Division for the California Department of Education in 2012. Building on California’s investment in Expanded Learning, Michael was charged with creating and implementing a strategic plan to support the development and sustainability of high-quality programs. Prior to this role, Michael founded the Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center, regarded as a national model for community and afterschool programming rooted in Youth Development. Michael grew up in Idaho where he worked to create social justice ministries to serve urban and immigrant communities.
Paula leads the national program expansion, implementation and sustainability for Sandy Hook Promise’s Know The Signs programs, with the goal of bringing Sandy Hook Promise’s no-cost, easy to implement prevention programs and resources to schools and youth-serving organizations across the country. Prior to joining Sandy Hook Promise, Paula developed international community engagement and social movement strategies across three continents with a focus on reducing violence against women and girls. Paula has studied and practiced social change extensively and believes that real and sustainable change happens when people come together at the grassroots level around seemingly simple, yet powerful actions that shift the narrative and culture of what is acceptable. Paula is a firm believer that hope can counter apathy and strives to provide positive solutions to reduce gun violence. Paula holds a Masters in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a BS in Family Social Science from the University of Minnesota.
Julia is a creative and passionate youth development specialist, a youth mentor to many and a hands-on trainer. She has trained thousands of educators in schools and in expanded learning programs for 15+ years. Julia is an award-winning educator with an MA in Educational Leadership from Antioch University. She is the Mindful Co-Founder of kid-grit. The kid-grit curriculum is a 25-hour program focusing on a holistic approach to youth development, mindfulness, social and emotional learning, digital and social media awareness and finishes off with an action project.
John Gabriel holds an M.A. degree in Musicology from San Diego State University, where he also served as Lecturer in Music. He has conducted ethnomusicological fieldwork in Mexico, Ghana, and Indonesia, and is currently San Diego Opera’s Education Director. Active in arts administration since 2008, he is committed to local arts and education advocacy efforts and has served on numerous boards and committees.
Francisca Gamez is an administrator for the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Beyond the Bell Branch (BTB). Mrs. Gamez has been in public education for 27 years, serving in various positions. As the EL coordinator for the Los Angeles Unifies School District, Mrs. Gamez further developed her passion for English learners and youth advocacy. She currently oversees the English Learner and Tobacco Education grants, along with the Advocates for Healthy Choices initiative though grant funding from the Department of Justice.
Carlos Garcia has been committed to working with youth in various leadership roles in the out-of-school time program for over 15 years. He began in an entry-level position and quickly moved up to Program Supervisor for Los Angeles Unified School District’s Beyond the Bell Program. He worked in various low-income neighborhoods and learned the importance of culture, diversity, mentorship, coaching, and community. Carlos is passionate about making an impact in the lives of children and being able to provide a safe outlet. He is proud of how he built a meaningful afterschool culture of sports and enrichment activities. Carlos has been instrumental in implementing numerous activities, campaigns, and programs that offer students exposure and development in leadership, arts, science, and many other enrichment platforms. Carlos believes expanded learning programs great to provide access to fields normally not available for underprivileged youth. Carlos is currently a Regional Director for Beyond the Bell. He earned his Bachelor’s of Science in Business Management from California State University, Northridge. Carlos is also an alum of the California School-Age Consortium (CalSac) 360/365 LDI program. He oversees 36 middle school programs throughout Los Angeles. As a product of LAUSD himself, Carlos is extremely proud and happy to contribute to the communities that raised him.
Elvy Garcia’s experience emerges from over 15 years in the out-of-school time arena with the Beyond the Bell Branch. She currently holds the position of Regional Director with Beyond the Bell’s Youth Development Program; in this position, can design and implement programs for students and staff to develop leadership skills. Elvy is passionate and possesses a genuine commitment to serve expanded learning communities as an advocate for educational and leadership equity. She has extensive field experience working with diverse teams, youth, and communities throughout her professional and academic career. Elvy earned her Bachelors in Sociology and Master’s in Public Administration – Public Sector Management & Leadership from California State University Northridge. In addition, she is an alumnus of the California School Age-Consortium Leadership Development Institute for Emerging Leaders of Color. During this pivotal learning experience, she spent an intensive year acquiring valuable insight and knowledge of how power, oppression, and privilege manifests itself in today’s non-profit sectors. Elvy is committed to continuing her mission to lead, advocate and organize with passion so that youth and families can have access to leadership opportunities within their own communities.
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. 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.
As Project Manager, Dan directs the Alliance’s work around social and emotional learning (SEL), works to advance the Alliance’s outreach and messaging efforts, coordinates activities and collaborative efforts with partner organizations, and plans and implements projects. Dan previously worked for Massachusetts state government, European Parliament, and political campaigns, and most recently worked at the Alliance for Excellent Education’s Center for Digital Learning & Policy. He has a Master’s in Public Administration from the George Washington University and a Bachelor’s degree in political science from Northeastern University in Boston.
Deborah "Dr. G" Gilboa, MD
Internationally respected parenting and youth development expert, Deborah Gilboa, MD, is the founder of AskDoctorG.com. Popularly known as Dr. G, she is an industry leading speaker, author, social influencer, media personality, and board-certified family physician who is fluent in American Sign Language and has received many awards for clinical excellence in teaching. She inspires audiences with relatable stories and easy tools to develop crucial life skills in children, teens and young adults ages 2-22.
Dr. Shawn Ginwright
Dr. Ginwright is an Associate Professor of Education in the Africana Studies Department and Senior Research Associate for the Cesar Chavez Institute for Public Policy at San Francisco State University. In 1999, he received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. His research examines the ways in which youth in urban communities navigate through the constraints of poverty and struggle to create equality and justice in their schools and communities.
Tiffany Gipson is a Program Specialist for the California AfterSchool Network (CAN). She started with CAN as a member of the Leadership Team and quickly transitioned to a staff position in August 2017. Before becoming a part of the CAN Team, Tiffany was the Technical Assistance Director for Higher Ground NDC, a social justice and educational non-profit that focused on sharing high quality afterschool and support services to schools and communities of color throughout Northern California.
Dr. Annemarie Grassi
Dr. Annemarie M. Grassi has served as the CEO of Open Doors Academy (ODA) for the past 17 years. At 23-years-old, she started the non-profit ODA and grew it from 20 kids to over 600 kids annually and has expanded its’ reach from a neighborhood service to a statewide enterprise. Dr. Grassi holds a B.A. with Honors in Psychology, M.S.Ed. in Child and Adolescent Psychology, a Non-Profit Management and a Ph.D. in Urban Education. Through the growth of ODA and the Center for Out-of-School Advancement, she brings a depth of experience in child and adolescent development, program development, metrics and outcomes, fundraising, and strategic planning.
Anna Griffin is the 826 Digital Manager at 826 National and leads 826Digital.com, a platform for educators that features inventive writing resources and curriculum from across the 826 National Network. Prior to this role, Anna taught writing at high schools in New Orleans, Chicago, and San Francisco and has held leadership positions as an instructional coach, department chair, and administrator. In each of these roles, Anna has witnessed the transformative power of writing. She believes that creative expression, risk-taking, and learning go hand in hand.
Eric Gurna joined LA’s BEST in 2015 as the second President and CEO in the organization’s history. He brings a deep commitment to positive youth development to his work at LA’s BEST, and a national reputation for thought leadership in the Expanded Learning movement. He also brings a nuanced understanding and appreciation for how children learn and develop, and a passion for staff and program development.
Prior to leading LA’s BEST, Eric was the founder, President and CEO of Development Without Limits, where he designed and facilitated staff development, curriculum and other resources for community organizations and schools nationwide. While at Development Without Limits, Eric created Please Speak Freely, a podcast where he interviewed leading thinkers, artists, and others to shed light on key issues and explore different perspectives about youth development and education.
In the late ‘90s, Eric also served as LA’s BEST’s first Director of Staff Development. In that role, he was immersed in LA’s BEST values and operations and codified the organization’s values, youth development principles, and staff development practices.
Eric has presented keynotes and workshops for dozens of organizations and conferences nationwide. In 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown appointed Eric to the California Department of Education’s Before and After School Advisory Committee, and he is a member of the California Afterschool Advocacy Alliance Steering Committee
Eric holds a B.S. in Political Science from the University of California at Irvine and an M.S. in Urban Policy Analysis and Management from the New School for Social Research in New York.
Over the last 17 years, Suzy Haislip has worked as an education sales consultant with PCS Edventures, a curriculum development company based out of Boise, ID. She promotes STEAM and Drone education solutions to schools throughout the country. She has performed numerous hands-on workshops and trained educators throughout the K-12 spectrum for the Classroom, Out-of-school, CTE programs and more. Suzy lives in Boise, ID with her 16-year-old daughter Savannah. She spends most of her time traveling to Education Conferences or with her daughter going to different sports tournaments. She also stays active with city league volleyball.
James Halliday is a native San Diegan — fifth generation, in fact. He’s currently the Executive Director of A Reason To Survive (ARTS), a creative youth development nonprofit located in National City, CA. In previous roles, James was Regional Manager of Collective Shift / LRNG, a MacArthur Foundation-funded education technology platform focused on credentialing out-of-school learning; before that, he was Program Director for the Education Synergy Alliance, where he advanced excellence and equity in school districts across San Diego. After graduating from Stanford, James completed graduate studies abroad, then worked as a journalist for a decade in Eastern Europe and Turkey. James is a serial social entrepreneur; a member of Social Venture Partners San Diego; Rotary 33 chapter in San Diego; board member for the San Diego chapter of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP); and sits on the City of San Diego’s Citizens Advisory Board on Police-Community Relations. When he's not working, he's cooking. When he's not inside, he's on hiking or playing tennis. When he's not here, he's across the border, in Valle de Guadalupe or at a Xolos match.
Dee Hankins is on a mission to share one powerful message: Resilience is everything! When you focus on resilience (the ability to bounce back) along with your purpose in life, you can make it through any situation and use it for good. After spending 18 years in foster care and dealing with the many hardships that come with it, Dee never gave in. Instead, he endured his struggle and bounced back even stronger. Once a troubled, “at-risk” youth, now a high energy, down to earth, extremely funny and passionate individual; Dee knows that life throws curveballs but if you focus on resilience you will always bounce back.
Ashley Hare is the co-founder of RE:FRAME Youth Arts Center, collaborating with young artists, arts organizations, local and state governments, and community organizers to shape creative strategies towards ending injustice. Ashley has facilitated programming within shelters for youth who are homeless, group homes, rehabilitation facilities, juvenile detention centers, public and private schools. Her practice centers civic arts and cultural engagements to shift power and voice to young people. Currently, Ashley also serves as the Creative Youth Development National Partnership’s National Coordinator.
Jamelia Harris is a doctoral researcher in the Urban Schooling program at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She conducts research for the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools on two separate studies that explore and elevate critical issues affecting the life chances of Black children and incarcerated youth. She is also a researcher on a California Endowment statewide school discipline study that examines the impact of school discipline reforms in Northern and Southern California schools. At the crux, her objective is to support policymakers, stakeholders and the general public in gaining a more nuanced understanding of the racialized-gendered dimensions of educational problems that are often overlooked in conventional policy and advocacy-based discourses. Her dissertation research centers Black girls narratives and experiences with school punishments to highlight the effects of punitive policies, practices, and norms on their education and social-emotional wellbeing.
Daniel W. Hatcher
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.
Marti Hess has over 20 years’ experience working in the human services sector and has successfully garnered over $10M in grant funding. Her experience includes program design, grant development, and executive leadership. Marti supports individual and organizational transition and growth by building bridges between diverse people, envisioning possibilities, and fast-tracking new initiatives. Marti currently provides consultation to several nonprofits in San Diego. She teaches grant development classes at various locations in the region and is a certified life coach and an Inspired Learning Facilitator.
Jon is an artist masquerading as an arts administrator who serves as the Artistic | Executive Director of SAY Sí, a national award-winning, creative youth development program for urban students. The tuition-free program encompasses 6 distinct multidisciplinary arts programs, including visual, performing, film, and game design. SAY Sí is situated in a 26,000 square foot facility in San Antonio’s Cultural Arts District.
Jon has presented and facilitated learning at numerous conferences and symposia on the value, tangible evidence, and the transformative power the arts have on urban youth, these include Grant Makers for the Arts, Grant Makers for Education, Americans for the Arts, and The National Guild for Community Arts Education. He also serves as a practitioner in a national partnership on Creative Youth Development with Americans for the Arts, the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the National Guild for Community Arts Education.
Dairrick Khalil Hodges
Dairrick Khalil Hodges is the founder of The SOULcial Workers, a theatre arts collaborative that serves to support the social education and emotional development of vulnerable youth and communities. A playwright and performer, his works aim to amplify the voices and experiences of those who experience marginalization and raise community consciousness around trauma and mental health. Dairrick has worked for over a decade in social services, integrating the arts into his work with foster youth, youth experiencing homelessness and youth in the LGBTQ+ Community.
On February 14, 2018, David Hogg’s life changed forever. As a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, David survived the largest school shooting in American history. Having lost friends, classmates and teachers, David decided to take action, so no other young person would have to experience what he went through on that fateful day.
Joining with his friends from his school, David co-founded March For Our Lives, a youth-led gun violence prevention movement that organized one of the largest mass mobilizations this nation has ever seen on March 24, 2018. Since then, David’s activism has taken him around the country, meeting with impacted families and diverse communities to deepen his knowledge on gun safety and the politics surrounding the issue.
He is a prolific voice on social media with more than a million followers. He uses his platform to raise the voices of others who have stood up against violence to create an alliance through their shared loss to end gun violence everywhere.
With his younger sister, Lauren, also a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, he co-wrote #NeverAgain, a New York Times bestseller.
David is a proud member of the 2018 graduating class of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Erik Holmgren serves as the program manager for Creative Youth Development (CYD) at the Massachusetts Cultural Council where he oversees funding and support for more than 70 CYD programs. At the Mass Cultural Council he was responsible for launching SerHacer, the first public support system for El Sistema-inspired work in the United States, Amplify, which provides grants to young people for youth-led projects, and the META Fellowship, which supports more 50 teaching artists each year. Prior to his work at the Mass Cultural Council, Dr. Holmgren was on the faculty at Frostburg State University and Columbia University. He holds five degrees in music and education and is the founder of Musical Perspectives, one of the first online journals focusing on scholarship in music performance.
Nathan is the founder of #iAmImpact, a non-profit focused on educating and inspiring educators everywhere. He provides keynotes, motivational speeches, and training for various levels of expanded learning staff. Nathan is a BOOST Ambassador and shares that there is a careful balance we must maintain this line of work. “As much as it’s about YOU it’s not about YOU.”
Heather Ikemire, Ph.D., is chief program officer at the National Guild for Community Arts Education, a national service organization dedicated to ensuring all people have opportunities to maximize their creative potential. Heather works alongside the Guild's CEO to shape and implement a strategic vision for Guild programming, ensuring successful execution of strategic goals and alignment with core values. Heather oversees the Guild's work in learning, leadership development, and information resources and plays a lead role in the development of strategic alliances, including the Guild's role as a backbone organization for the Creative Youth Development (CYD) National Partnership. The Partnership, which also includes Americans for the Arts and Mass Cultural Council, launched in 2016 to organize and accelerate the cross-sector advancement of CYD. National Partners work concert with three national action teams and a national youth summit planning committee to implement the CYD National Action Blueprint's strategies in Funding, Field Building, and Visibility and Impact. Prior to her current position, Heather served as the Guild’s marketing and communications director for seven years, and as public relations manager for the former Madison Repertory Theatre in Madison, WI. Her research on community arts education, theatre for youth, and creative youth development have appeared in various publications. She directed the development of the CYD National Action Blueprint and helped guide the development of the Guild’s highly-regarded resource “Engaging Adolescents: Building Youth Participation in the Arts.” She has a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College, and a Ph.D. in Theatre with a concentration in Theatre for Youth from Arizona State University’s School of Film, Dance, and Theatre. Heather serves as secretary for the Rose Community Development Corporation in New Orleans, where she currently resides.
Rachel Iribe is a 19-year-old Latina who has devoted herself to fighting against gun violence. She currently attends the University of California Irvine where she hopes to one day major in Political Science and continues to fight against social justice with a career of her choice. She first began her involvement with the March For Our Lives Organization in high school where she organized walkouts and then went on to become a student speaker and organizer for the march in Los Angeles on March 24, 2018. Rachel currently holds the position of co-director in the state of California for the organization where she manages recruitment and onboarding of new chapters and serves as a mentor while developing statewide initiatives.
For the last fifteen years, Larissa Johnson has dedicated her life to working with and for communities; helping people create sustainable, healthy neighborhoods that cultivate hale and hearty children and invigorate the communities’ livelihood. Prior to receiving her MPA in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University, she worked in the field of nutrition, physical activity, and chronic disease prevention and what she gleaned through her work is that the environment is at the center of literally everything we do in life. She now works to connect all the passions in her life: energy, movement, and laughter to share with others.
Fred began his career in education as a teaching artist working with, at-risk youth in impoverished communities throughout NYC. He then managed after-school programs for the NYC Department of Education where he served as Senior Grant Manager for the Office of Youth Development. In 2012 he relocated to LA where he served as Project Coordinator for the Los Angeles County Office of Education After School Unit. In that role, he provided support to over 150 ASES and 21st CCLC funded grantees throughout LA County. He now owns Afterschool Guru a professional development and coaching company providing TA support to programs across the country.
Julie Kendig, B.F.A., M.A., is a researcher, educator, and artist and is pursuing a Ph.D. in education with a focus on social justice. She studied with Dr. James Catterall at the Centers for Research on Creativity at UCLA and has been working with arts organizations and schools as a research consultant since 2013. Her most recent scholarly work is published in Arts Evaluation and Assessment: Measuring Impact in Schools and Communities. She travels nationally and internationally to present her work to audiences of students and educators. Currently, she serves on the research team for the National Partnership for Creative Youth Development and is the research liaison to Dr. Gil Noam at Harvard’s PEAR Institute and Dr. Mark Runco at the Creativity Testing Service for the San Diego Creative Youth Development study.
Krys Kornmeier has been a producer/director for over 25 years. She has produced nonfiction programs on a variety of topics for Discovery, Animal Planet, Global View Productions, Turner Broadcasting, and The Smithsonian Networks. She is the mother of a son with learning and attention issues and knows first-hand the emotional and educational challenges inherent in these issues. In her film, Normal Isn't Real: Succeeding with Learning Disabilities & ADHD four successful young adults share the ups and downs of their journeys to becoming experts on themselves and what they need to succeed. The making of this film has been a long-held passion.
Amy Lang, MA
Nationally known sexuality educator, speaker, and author Amy Lang, MA helps professionals who work with children and teens discover talking to kids about sexuality, their bodies and safety don’t have to be scary or overwhelming. Her engaging, humorous and inspiring style shows adults how to turn conversations and situations they dread into something they can handle like a pro. Her clients include The US Air Force Youth and Family Services Programs, Boys & Girls of King County and Navajo County AZ Public Health.
Selena Levy joined the CalSAC team in 2014 and now serves as the Director of Training. 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 leaders by the National Afterschool Association.
As a life long drummer and founder of DrumBus, Mike Liston knows the benefits of rhythm and the joy that comes from making music together. Since 2004 he has been sharing this passion with elementary and middle school children throughout Utah, California and beyond. Along with other DrumBus facilitators, he facilitates group-rhythm circles in schools, summer camps, recovery centers, and corporations. He founded the DrumBus in 2009.
Priscilla M. Little
Priscilla M. Little is a youth development research and strategy consultant whose current clients include the Forum for Youth Investment, BellExcel, American Institutes for Research, and the New Hampshire Department of Education. She was also recently a consultant to the Aspen Institute, working closely on partnership outreach and coalition building for the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. Prior to these engagements, she oversaw The Wallace Foundation's $15 million effort to assist nine cities in providing more high-quality afterschool programs through a coordinated systems approach. The former Associate Director of the Harvard Family Research Project, Priscilla has been working in education and conducting educational research for more than 20 years, with a particular emphasis on research and evaluation to support and improve afterschool experiences. Little has also has led research teams to investigate policy-relevant after school issues, such as improving access to and participation in quality programs, improving building afterschool systems, and supporting expanded learning partnerships. Outside the after school arena, Priscilla has worked in the areas of family engagement, early childhood, and the use of data for continuous improvement. She received her undergraduate degree in music history and theory from Smith College and her master's degree from the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study at Tufts University. She lives in Medford, MA with her husband, two cats, and dog and the occasional visit from one of her their three daughters.
Fausto A. Lopez
Fausto Alejandro López is a senior technical assistant consultant working on school climate, SEL, youth development, and expanded learning initiatives at AIR. He provides technical assistance and professional development to diverse audiences in the education and OST sectors. He is a nationally recognized presenter who facilitates national, regional, and state workshops that bring research to the field in relatable formats. He holds a master’s in educational psychology-youth development from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Kristin Lorey is the Director of Education at Every Monday Matters and has spent the majority of her career in the after-school learning space. After running writing and tutoring programs for students grades K-12 in Los Angeles, Kristin moved to Every Monday Matters, where she is in charge of the free SEL and HQSL programming, educator relationships, and community, and educational partnerships all around the country. She also has experience training and educating staff in after-school spaces on best practices, communication styles, HR practices, and professional development.
Leslie Lowes has more than 15 years of leadership positions for NASA education projects, working with regional, state, and national afterschool organizations to infuse fun, real-world STEM activities into after school. Leslie oversaw a NASA afterschool time curriculum project that made a cameo appearance in the JPL submission for the Emmy-winning Cassini mission Grande Finale at Saturn. She firmly believes in the power of personal discovery in afterschool programs and shares her enthusiasm for space exploration and afterschool through professional development for OST leaders – to build interest and capacity for bringing NASA STEM to their programs
Jennifer L. Magnabosco, Ph.D., ACC
Jennifer L. Magnabosco, Ph.D., ACC is a Principal Consultant, Certified Life Transitions, Career & Leadership Coach, and Workshop Trainer with over 25 years of experience in the fields of mental health, substance use, and health. She has held a variety of management, research, clinical practice, teaching, training, and consulting positions in public and private sector organizations. She provides Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training as a Certified MHFA Instructor for the Adult, Youth, and Higher Education Modules. Her presentations and publications focus on the implementation, improvement, and evaluation of government and community-based human services and organizations, change implementation and management, career and leadership development, emotional intelligence, and outcomes measurement. She is Co-Editor of the first (1997) and second (2011) editions of the National Association of Social Work (NASW) Press books, Outcomes Measurement in the Human Services: Cross-Cutting Issues and Methods.Dr. Magnabosco currently serves as Mental Health Section Policy Chair-American Public Health Association, Mentor-Network for Social Work Management, Mentor-University of Chicago Women’s Athletic Association, and reviewer for professional journals. She received her Ph.D. (in Social Policy Administration, and Community Mental Health) from Columbia University; her MA (in Social Science: Human Development) and BA (in Behavioral Science) from the University of Chicago; and her certifications as a Life Transitions & Leadership Coach from the Hudson Institute of Coaching; Associate Certified Coach (ACC) from the International Coach Federation; Career Coach from GetFive; Emotional Intelligence Practitioner from Learning In Action Technologies; and MHFA Instructor from the National Council for Behavioral Health.
Robin works as the Director, Customer Experience for Eleyo. She works closely with customers to ensure Eleyo is helping After School Enrichment and School Age Care programs use the system in a way that meets the needs of the individual programs as well as the communities and families they serve.
Louise is a Provincial Projects Coordinator with Ever Active Schools, based out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She has a Bachelor's degree in Kinesiology from the University of Calgary and a Masters degree in Public Health from Simon Fraser University. At Simon Fraser University her work was in supporting vulnerable children and youth through after-school programs. Through this, she developed a passion for capacity building in the after-school time period. Over the past two years, her position at Ever Active Schools has allowed her to coordinate provincial level supports for after-school programs.
Dr. Brian McDaniel
Dr. Brian McDaniel, a 2018 California Teacher of the Year and 2019 Global Teacher Prize Top 50 Finalist, is a music educator who has raised over $1,000,000 through grants, donations, sponsorships, and fundraisers to ensure access for every child in his program. As an educator for 13 years, he has successfully built award winning Elementary, Middle and High School music programs and is passionate about helping students overcome obstacles through academic opportunities. He is the Director of Bands and Choirs at Painted Hills Middle School in the Palm Springs Unified School District.
Justin McGlamery is owner & Chief Locus Focuser for Focus Your Locus Teambuilding Training & Development, a Master Trainer for the Wingman for Schools Program, and is NE Regional Chair for the Association for Experiential Education. Justin has taught Experiential Education Leadership & Group Dynamics courses at the university level, & facilitates social-emotional learning, team building, leadership development, mindfulness workshops, & teacher training. Justin is a regular presenter & keynote speaker at national & international conferences & is the co-author of Focus Your Locus: Activities that Focus the Power of Individuals and Groups (2010).
Jeffrey Scott Miller is the National Director of Curriculum & Training for After-School All-Stars. Jeffrey oversees program quality, professional development of staff, and instructional and training practices of the organization. Jeffrey has a decade and a half of classroom experience, is a public speaking coach, and has written and developed curriculum and strategies that are based on youth development and neuroscience. He has trained educators across the United States and internationally on how to engage students, create positive classroom cultures, and reinforce learning.
Steve Mintz is a professional facilitator, freelance writer, editor and author, Steve's career includes decades of experience as a classroom educator, camp and retreat director, curriculum designer, college orientation program director, food service supervisor, and downhill ski coach. With a focus on re-igniting people's passions, Steve has developed and facilitated workshops for business people and educators across the country, and he trains facilitators from around the world.
As the lead writer for ChartHouse Learning's FISH! For Schools materials and co-producer of their Trainer Tools (facilitator training program), Steve designed and developed dozens of strategies for facilitators and educators striving to create positive team cultures. His playful and engaging style will help you connect with new ideas, age-old wisdom and most importantly, the people you live and work with every day.
Steve's passion for learning and writing is matched only by his passion for family. Steve and his wife (they met teaching elementary school) live in Minnetonka, Minnesota with their three daughters, one son, two cats and an ant farm that used to have more ants in it. Hmmmmm...
Dr. Suzette Mirabal
Suzette Mirabal is an educator who has worked as a Brain-Based Learning professor, an English teacher, school counselor, and presenter. She owns Brain Connections, Corp. a company that specializes in offering professional development workshops on how the brain learns. She also works integrating technology in classrooms and counseling students. Dr. Mirabal has been a speaker at several conferences including ISTE, FETC, College Board, Association of Private Education and the Professional Counselors Convention. Dr. Mirabal has a doctorate degree in education and a post-graduate certification in Neuroscience of Learning.
Kathie Moehlig is the Executive Director of TransFamily Support Services and a leading authority on supporting transgender and non-binary youth and their families. A tireless advocate for the LGBTQ community, she was named “Woman of the Year” by California Assemblyperson Todd Gloria, and one of the “Best People of San Diego” by CityBeat Magazine. A certified life coach, parenting instructor and motivational speaker, Kathie’s work has been featured in the New York Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune and on the NBC News.
Jonathan Mooney is a dyslexic writer, speaker, and do-gooder who did not lean to read until 12 years old. He faced a number of low expectations growing up—was told he would flip burgers, be a high school dropped out, and end up in jail. Opposed to being a high school drop out, Jonathan became a college graduate from Brown University with an honors degree in English Literature; instead of flipping burgers, he ended up writing books, the first of which he wrote as an undergrad; and instead of becoming an inmate, he became an advocate creating organizations and initiatives that help people who get the short end of the stick.
Jonathan won many awards including the Harry S. Truman fellowship for public services, Finalist for a Roads Scholarship, LA Achievement award from The Lab School of Washington where he shared the stage with Vice President Joe Biden—and has been featured on HBO, NPR, The New York Times, NBC, Fast Company, and many other media outlets. But what he is most proud of is not that he proved some people who doubted him wrong—but that he proved the many people—his mom, a teacher named Mr. R, his wife Rebecca—right, not just about his potential but about the potential for all of us who live and learn differently.
Christian Moore is an internationally renowned speaker, social worker, and author of The Resilience Breakthrough. The WhyTry Program that he authored is used in 20,000 institutions worldwide and has proven to effectively teach the social and emotional skills needed to thrive in school and life.
Dr. Sandra Morgan
Dr. Sandra Morgan, an educator and nurse, is recognized globally for her expertise in combatting human trafficking and working to end violence against women. Dr. Morgan’s experience serving missing and exploited children includes direct care as a pediatric nurse, a volunteer with Doctors of the World (Athens, Greece) and as a past Administrator of the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force (OCHTTF). Her expertise is recognized locally, nationally and internationally and includes such venues as Asia, Russia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. She serves on Foreign Affairs Chair Congressman Ed Royce's Anti Human Trafficking Advisory Committee. She also serves the Orange County CSEC (Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children) Steering Committee partnering with Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice. In her role as Faculty and Director of Vanguard University’s Global Center for Women and Justice, she has built capacity for research, education, and advocacy directly related to the exploitation of women and children. She consistently brings together diverse groups to collaborate during annual Ensure Justice conferences as well as special focus summits. Her Ending Human Trafficking podcast has been recommended by the National Administration of Youth and Family Services Clearinghouse and is a great way to get up to speed on the complex issues of combatting human trafficking.
Dr. Kathleen O'Connor
As a postdoctoral fellow, Kathleen O’Connor works to translate research to practice and coordinates research and evaluation efforts at NatureBridge. Kathleen holds a BA in Environmental Science from Northwestern University and a Ph.D. in Education from Stanford University. Her graduate research explored the development of environmental identities in the context of residential environmental education programs. Kathleen is passionate about connecting young people to their natural and social environments through facilitated learning experiences and exploration in the outdoors.
Tapau coordinates the school transition and aftercare process for students entering and exiting LA County Juvenile Halls, Probation Camps, and Court Community Schools. This includes forming, training, and facilitating interagency collaborative meetings with various LA county agencies such as Probation and DMH as well as LEAs and charter schools that operate within LA county.
Shawn C. Petty
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 holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from BYU-Hawaii and a Masters of Political Management from George Washington University. He is a White-Riley-Peterson Fellow and a national STEM expert and also has a PMP certification.
Dr. Vincent Pompei
Dr. Vincent Pompei is the Director of the Youth Well-Being Project at the Human Rights Campaign. One of his primary roles at HRC is to direct Time to THRIVE, an annual national conference for educators to promote safety, inclusion, and well-being for LGBTQ youth. Previously, Pompei served as President for the California Association of School Counselors and spent over ten years as a teacher and school counselor. He was also an LGBTQ cadre trainer for the National Education Association and authored the LGBTQ section of the American School Counselor Association’s National Model.
Thorhildur Rafns Jonsdottir
Thorhildur is from Iceland but studied in Denmark earning a Bachelors Degree in Social Work/Kindergarten Teacher. She has been a department manager for district base youth clubs in Reykjavik since 2007 serving approximately 2,000 children and youth. She does a lot of prevention work and programming within the local community, schools, police, and with parents. She is also a part of larger prevention programs involving municipalities around Iceland.
Dr. Frieda Reichsman
Frieda Reichsman leads biology-based projects at the Concord Consortium, developing interactive online games and simulations that help students make sense of genetics. In the educational games, Geniverse and Geniventure students breed dragons to learn genetics and molecular biology. She holds a doctorate in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Richard Reyes is an entrepreneur, storyteller, and the founder and executive director of the PLUS ME Project. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Richard 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 Education. To date, he has shared his narrative of becoming the first person in his family to earn a college degree with over 100,000 students from over 300 schools throughout Southern California.
Roberto Rivera is an artist, educator, and change agent who specializes in applying best practices in engaging youth using practical and relevant methods. He is also the Chief Empowerment Officer at 7 Mindsets Academy.
He received his undergraduate degree at UW-Madison where he created his own major entitled "Social Change, Youth Culture, and the Arts." He received his master's degree at UIC in Youth Development with a focus on Social Justice, Urban Education, and Hip-hop. He currently is the President and Lead Change Agent of the Good Life Org., publishing multi-media educational tools and training educators, youth workers, and parents in connecting positive youth development to community development.
His experiences working in the field of community-based popular education over the last decade have won him awards from former president Bill Clinton, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, and others. Despite these accolades, Roberto sees his work as giving back, since being labeled "at-risk" and "disadvantaged" as a teen himself, his relationships with key educators and youth workers helped him to turn his life around.
Roberto's presentations are unique in that they not only include scientific-based research, but also include his own stories of transforming from a dope dealer to a hope dealer and working with communities around the nation. His unique ability to code-switch from sharing research and data to stories and poems leaves audiences standing with enlightened minds and moved hearts.
He is also a proud husband and father and sees being a good dad as one of his life-long goals.
Peter Rogovin is a marketing strategy consultant who serves as the Project Director on The Wallace Foundation’s YAI initiative. He founded his firm, Next Level SMG, to help clients develop deep insights about customers and markets, and to build strong leadership brands that stand the test of time. His consulting practice spans many consumer and B2B industries. He also consults to mission-based, not-for-profit organizations, including museums, foundations, service organizations, and professional associations. As a co-author of a Wallace Foundation-published research report on arts engagement, he has spoken to audiences of arts and afterschool educators and practitioners across the country, and his research has been covered by Youth Today, NPR and other youth development publications. Peter has been quoted or published in Brandweek, Adweek, Ad Age, Marketing Daily and The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Peter holds an M.B.A. in marketing and finance from Northwestern's Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a B.A. in economics from Brandeis University.
Eric Rowles is one of the country's most sought-after experts on generational diversity, millennial culture, substance abuse prevention, and workforce development. Eric is a nationally recognized trainer, speaker, and consultant who has worked with over 150,000 youth, adults, administrators, professionals, and policymakers within the past 15 years. Previously, Eric served as the Director of Training for the Youth Leadership Institute, Director of International Summer Programs for ELS Language Services, and Prevention Coordinator for Riverside County Friday Night Live.
Chris is the founder of nonprofit organizations Outdoor Outreach and Transforming Youth Outdoors. Chris has been nationally recognized as an expert on programming for youth at-risk. He is frequently asked to speak at national conferences and symposiums and to consult with government agencies, academic institutions, and other nonprofit organizations.
Wayne Sakamoto is the Executive Director of the California School Resource Officers’ Association. He has over thirty years of experience in the field of school and community safety and has developed and implemented a number of successful gang and youth violence prevention and intervention approaches. He has assisted schools on a national basis with school safety planning, emergency readiness, and building safe and positive learning environments. Wayne has been recognized at state and federal levels for violence prevention programs and efforts.
Dr. Ken Scheel
Dr. Scheel founded KEVA Planks in 2004 and grew the company from nothing into a world leader in interactive informal learning. After developing museum exhibits for a science center and children's museum in Virginia, he recognized the huge educational potential of the planks. The simple challenges and activities he taught to museum staff were also needed by teachers who wanted to make learning in the classroom more interactive. He started providing professional development workshops for educators at schools and conferences.
Troy Selvey is a Program Specialist for California Afterschool Network. Troy joined the team in August 2017. Prior to joining CAN Troy worked at the El Dorado County of Education as an Instructional Assistant in the Special Needs classroom. He was also Head Basketball Coach at Ponderosa High School. Troy also worked in the expanded learning field with Star Education and Boys and Girls Club. As a child, Troy grew up attending expanded learning programs and understands and believes in these programs. He knows they helped make him the person he is today. He hopes to continue to pass on the gift he received as a child to the youth of today.
Lee Barry Shepard is Senior Director of Strategy Execution in Youth Development Operations at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). Her current work focuses on the development and implementation of programming, resources, and services for youth-serving organizations, and she has expertise in art & design higher education and community arts administration. In her role at BGCA, Lee has collaborated with The Wallace Foundation on the Youth Arts Initiative, a multi-year research project intended to assess the ability, impact, and scalability of high-quality arts programming in a multi-disciplinary out-of-school-time organization. Lee previously served as the Director of the Collaborative Learning Center at the Savannah College of Art & Design, Atlanta campus, where she partnered corporations and non-profits with faculty and students on projects that resulted in real design solutions or products.
Basketball phenom, Sandy Spin Slade entertained thousands at NBA half-times and special events around the globe. She revolutionized the educational market by introducing Skillastics®, the #1 large group physical activity resource. 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.”
Amy Smith joined TOMS in 2016 as Chief Giving Officer to oversee all aspects of TOMS Giving. This entails managing 70+ global giving partners, measuring giving program impact, experiential engagement with internal and external partners, and leading employee Giving Trips to the regions where TOMS gives. TOMS provides shoes, sight, and water as part of our Giving. Partners overall health and education programs to help drive meaningful impact and engage the Community. Amy was previously the Chief Strategy Officer and President of Action Networks for Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service. Prior to joining Points of Light, Amy held several management positions at Apple helping to lead their retail initiative including international real estate development, store design, construction execution, and store operations. Amy earned a bachelor’s degree in Materials and Logistics Management from Michigan State University.
Ashley Steimer-King is the Director of Girls Learn International, a program of the Feminist Majority Foundation. She has a Masters degree in Cultural Anthropology from Roehampton University in London, England, and an undergraduate degree from the Ohio State University. Ms. Steimer-King previously worked with non-governmental organizations in their United Nations offices, training middle and high school girls on international human rights learning and advocacy.
Jordan Stolp is California’s Territory Sales Manager from Gopher. With 7 years of experience in the physical education market, Jordan brings experience in teaching unique activities from Gopher, classroom management, as well as pedometer and heart rate monitor training. Jordan presents annually at CAHPERD, other state workshops, and district professional development opportunities.
Nick Szuberla is the Executive Director and co-founder of Working Narratives. Nick has helped design and lead national public information campaigns on issues ranging from sentencing reform to U.S. energy policy. He began his work at the Highlander Research and Education Center in 1996, and then joined Appalshop, an arts and cultural center in Whitesburg, Kentucky. Not long after, Nick founded Holler to the Hood (a multimedia project exploring urban/rural relationships), Thousand Kites (a national dialogue project addressing the U.S. criminal justice system) and Calls from Home (an interactive radio and organizing project). He has produced award-winning documentary films, radio series, and multimedia productions. He has also trained hundreds of youth and adults in how to use low-cost media as an organizing tool and has done artist residencies in 38 states. He is a graduate of Antioch College.
Shawnee Thornton Hardy
Shawnee is the Founder of ABLE Yoga Therapy and Asanas for Autism and Special Needs and the Founder/Director of Yoga Therapy for Youth. She is a Certified Yoga Therapist, M.Ed and Educational/Behavior Specialist. She specializes in Yoga for Spinal Health and offers therapeutic classes and private sessions using yoga props as tools to support the unique body types and physical differences of each individual. Shawnee also provides training and workshops on Yoga Therapy and Yoga and Mindfulness for Youth.
Sonia Toledo founded Dignity of Children in 2008 to create environments where children can thrive. As CEO of Dignity of Children, she continues to support directors in establishing strong learning cultures to build quality environments for children. She has over 25 years of experience working in the after-school field, building quality programming. Sonia has a Master in Human Services at Lincoln University. She is pursuing her Ph.D. in education and global training and development from North Central University. She completed the National Afterschool Matters Practitioner Research Fellowship in 2017.
Christina Turner is the Director of Education at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, MA where she and her team aim to develop mission-driven, relevant, engaging and culturally responsive programming that reflects the complex issues that shaped the past, remain critical today and inform an equitable and sustainable future. Prior to her current role, she directed the museum’s multi-award winning High School Apprenticeship Program. Christina has more than a decade of experience working in the education and youth development fields in various capacities and hopes that all of her work is people-centered, equity-focused, and community-grounded. Christina earned her B.A. from Boston University and a Master in Public Administration from Baruch College as part of the highly selective National Urban Fellows Program. She currently serves on the board of the Equity Institute, an organization that develops innovative solutions that advance equitable policies and practices through research, advocacy, and strategic partnerships.
Gillian has worked in the OSHC sector for over 20 years. In 2015, Gillian was awarded the Australian Institute of Management’s – ‘Manager of the Year’ award for demonstrating great leadership skills, energy & for her ability to deliver a message that is forthright & strong, inspiring others to follow. Gillian is currently the Operations Manager of 14 OSHC services with Big Fat Smile, a Not For Profit Organisation in regional NSW, Australia. She has been an active member of New South Wales Australia’s peak body for OOSH, Network of Community Activities. She served two years as the Chairperson on the Board of Management.
Anita Walker has served as Executive Director of the Mass Cultural Council since April 2007. Walker is the Commonwealth’s highest ranking cultural official, overseeing a range of grant programs, services, and advocacy for the arts, humanities, and sciences in communities across Massachusetts.
Walker has raised the visibility of the nonprofit creative sector as a driving force for growth and prosperity in Massachusetts. She led advocacy for the Mass. Cultural Facilities Fund, which has invested $91.9 million in arts and cultural building projects statewide for over eight years. CFF grants are leveraging more than $1.9 billion in spending on cultural building projects, providing more than 21,000 jobs, restoring many important historic structures, and attracting more than 28 million cultural tourists to Massachusetts annually.
Walker also launched Mass Cultural Council’s Cultural Districts Initiative to help cities and towns attract new visitors and commerce through new arts and cultural activity. And she led the creation of a new Cultural Investment Portfolio for more than 400 outstanding nonprofit arts, humanities, and science organizations that simplified the state’s support system for the nonprofit cultural sector. Coupled with DataArts, it is helping organizations better understand their finances and become better advocates for their work and the sector as a whole.
Under Walker’s leadership, Mass Cultural Council also has put new emphasis on defining and building a new field of practice called Creative Youth Development. As part of that effort, Mass Cultural Council launched SerHacer, a program to support intensive, aspirational, ensemble music making as a vehicle for education and social change. Walker also led the development of Mass Cultural Council’s UP Initiative to support organizations that recognize the power of inclusive design to grow audiences and enhance cultural experiences for all, and embrace inclusivity as core to their mission. The intent is to generate transformational experiences for participants that will not only build capacity but fuel insight and action.
Before coming to Massachusetts, Walker was director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs for seven years, serving as executive director of the Iowa Arts Council, administrator of the State Historical Society, and the state historic preservation officer. Walker is a native of California and a graduate of The University of Arizona. She lives in Beverly.
Liz Weir, Organisation Development Manager. I have spent the last 5 year researching and developing new evidence-based programs & frameworks to support educators to work SAFELY every day with children. The basis of this research has been the foundation nationally recognized training and has informed policy and organizational change. I am very passionate about supporting Educators to develop their skills, knowledge, and confidence to work SAFELY with children and their families.
Jeffrey Zlotnik, Founder & CEO of The Meditation Initiative has worked to bring the mental health benefits of mindfulness to more than 75,000 people for free since 2003. He began meditating in 1996 while working at a group home for abused teens. He has led free meditation for Homeless Teens, K-12 Public Schools, Juvenile Detention Facilities, Federal & State Prisons, HIV Patients, Seniors Centers, United States Military, Wounded Warriors, UCSD, Sober Living Homes, Superior Court of CA Judges, Susan G. Komen, Braille Institute, Jewish Family Services, Catholic Charities and Group Homes for Victims of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking.