BOOST Conference Leadership Team
The BOOST Leadership Team is critically important to the success and impact of the BOOST Conference. This amazing team has over 490 years of combined experience in the field and provides big ideas, new connections, practical strategies while adding credibility to the planning and execution process. This comprehensive Leadership Team represents the diversity of after school, expanded learning, and out-of-school time programs and includes representatives serving at all levels of the field. We are a quality conference truly planned by dedicated (and fun) after school, expanded learning, and out-of-school time professionals, adding voice and value to the needs of the field.
Nicole Baitx Kennedy, Executive Director Early Education & Expanded Learning (she/her/hers)
Westminster School District, Westminster, CA
I have been in education for over 35 years. Working in preschool and expanded learning has been quite an adventure. I believe that every child deserves to be treated with respect, dignity and shown love. It is my goal that through my work every child has an opportunity to explore their world, investigate interests, and find their purpose. Mark Twain said, "The two most important days in your life, the day you are born and the day you find out why." I believe that changing the world starts with purpose. And this quote from Frederick Douglass inspires me every day, "It is easier to build strong children than to mend broken men."
Top 5 Strengths: Developer | Arranger | Ideation | Connectedness | Empathy
Top 5 Character Strengths: Love | Spirituality | Gratitude | Honesty | Fairness
Alyson Bryant, Program Director (she/her/hers)
YMCA of Greater Long Beach, Long Beach, CA
Alyson Bryant was raised in Long Beach. Alyson has learned and seen a lot witnessing first-hand gang violence and the effects it had on her friends and fellow classmates– from going to jail to being killed. As a result, she has a strong passion for at-risk youth and her community. She started her work with youth as a Youth Mentor for at the California Conference for Equality and Justice and focuses her work on Long Beach youth in schools and detention centers. Alyson than began her Y career in 2013. She quickly expanded her role with the Y she continues to advocate for urban youth with her mission to Motivate, Inspire, and Empower!
Top 5 Strengths: Relator | Competition | Positivity | Significance | Activator
Top 5 Character Strengths: Kindness | Love | Spirituality | Gratitude | Hope
Richard Gijon, Community Schools Site Coordinator (he/him/his)
San Diego Unified School District, San Diego, CA
Richard served in the expanded learning space for 17 years with the YMCA of San Diego County. Richard started as a front-line program leader and was quickly promoted and eventually became the regional department head. As regional department head, Richard oversaw a region that included 26 ASES programs, licensed programs, days camps, literacy programs, summer learning programs, and physical education programs across 40 sites. Richard joined the San Diego Unified School District in 2016. Richard recently accepted the role of Community Schools Site Coordinator at Hoover High School, one of five inaugural community schools in the district.
Kristen Gonzalez, Program Manager (she/her/hers)
Harmonium, San Diego, CA
Kristen has been in the expanded learning field for over 25 years, what started as a summer job has turned into a passion and career. Her career started at the Boys and Girls Club of Escondido and took her to the YMCA of San Diego County, then to various agencies around San Diego County, and now a Program Director with Harmonium. Kristen has a wide knowledge of licensed programs, ASES program, and 21st Century programs but her true passion is the professional development of expanded learning staff. She is a CalSAC trainer and holds a BA in Organizational Leadership from Chapman University.
Top 5 Strengths: Connectedness | Belief | Developer | Activator | Restorative
Top 5 Character Strengths: Humor | Kindness | Love | Gratitude | Fairness
Veronica Granados, Director of Learning and Development (she/her/hers)
Woodcraft Rangers, Sylmar, CA
Veronica Granados is a dedicated professional who has been working at Woodcraft Rangers for 18 years. Throughout her tenure, she has held various positions within the organization, showcasing her versatility and commitment to the agency's mission. In her current position as the Director of Learning and Development, works with a team of curriculum writers and experts to develop a curriculum that aligns with the organization's goals and objectives. Oversees, the continued professional development of all front-line staff and establishes evaluation protocols to assess the effectiveness of the curriculum and training modules.
Top 5 Strengths: Strategic | Achiever | Relator | Learner| Responsibility
Top 5 Character Strengths: Love of Learning | Gratitude | Leadership | Kindness | Spirituality
Virginia Mebane, Teacher On Assignment (she/her/hers)
TLC Expanded Learning, Pomona Unified, Pomona, CA
Virginia grew up in Inglewood, California, and has worked in out-of-school programs and education for over 35 years. She started working with youth at the age of 14 as a summer youth leader at Centinela Day Camp. Virginia has had great mentors including her mom, who inspired her to serve youth in her community. While raising a family and working part-time, Virginia earned a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and Bachelor’s degree from the University of La Verne. After teaching for 10 years, she followed her heart and returned to expanded learning programs. Currently, she supports 26 after school program sites within the Pomona Unified School District.
Melissa Perez, Specialist, Policy & Outreach (she/her/ella)
California AfterSchool Network, Sacramento, CA
Melissa currently serves as the Policy & Outreach Specialist for the California AfterSchool Network (CAN). Previously, she served as the ASES Expanded Learning Supervisor at the Fullerton School District. She has 15+ years of experience in various capacities in Expanded Learning as direct-service, site leadership, and program leadership and development. Melissa studied Child and Adolescent Development and Chicano/a Studies at CSU Fullerton. She is a Google Certified Educator, a CalSAC Trainer, and has served on State and County-wide Expanded Learning Workgroup teams. Melissa is a Mental-Health First-Aider, a Trauma-Informed Advocate, and a passionate advocate for young people.
Top 5 Strengths: Achiever | Strategic | Belief | Discipline | Arranger
Top 5 Character Strengths: Love of Learning | Gratitude | Kindness | Love | Leadership
Becky Shultz, Retired (she/her/hers)
Becky Shultz has recently retired with over 23 years of experience in the out-of-school-time field. She obtained a Master's degree in counseling and a P.P.S. credential in 2003 from California State University, Long Beach. Becky's job experience includes 20 years as a school counselor and 20 years as the Director of Expanded Learning for the Whittier City School District. Her committee and board memberships include Helpline Youth Counseling (board member), LACOE Group Advisory Group (GAG) and Region 11 Advisory Committee, WCSD management, and wellness committee, and the Whittier Homeless Student Coalition. Becky has been a member of the BOOST Leadership Team since 2010. She was honored to be named the 2022 BOOST OSTI Award winner.
Top 5 Strengths: Input | Ideation | Connectedness | Learner | Belief
Top 5 Character Strengths: Gratitude | Kindness | Honesty | Perseverance | Spirituality
Meredith White, Supervisor (she/her/hers)
Brea Olinda Unified School District-Child Development Services, Brea, CA
Meredith is a dedicated expanded learning professional who seeks unique and creative opportunities for students in out-of-school time programs. Working within the Before and Afterschool network for 8 years, Meredith supports staff and students in the Brea Olinda Unified School District Department of Child Development Services through Professional Development for staff and S.T.E.A.M. Curriculum Implementation for students. Believing in the power of expanded learning, Meredith continues to support the building of bridges between in-school and out-of-school time.
Top 5 Strengths: Restorative | Learner | Input | Intellection | Responsibility
Top 5 Character Strengths: Kindness | Leadership | Spirituality | Creativity | Humility
BOOST Conference Implementation Team
Shanyce Blossom, Site Director (she/her/hers)
Rainbow Rising, Irvine, CA
I have been working at Rainbow Rising Westpark since July 2016. While working with children I hope to help them cultivate interests they have while also encouraging growth in skills they still need to develop. I have an AS in Business Administration and am now working towards a degree in Child and Adolescent Studies. Working with children has been a joy and passion of mine even at a young age. My passion for working with kids comes from my mentor pushing me to see the amazing things they can bring to my life and me to theirs. When I’m not working, I enjoy reading, being outdoors and spending time with my son.
Top 5 Strengths: Relator | Learner | Analytical | Responsibility | Focus
Top 5 Character Strengths: Fairness | Honesty | Kindness | Gratitude | Judgement
Phyllis Bradley Parker (she/her/hers)
Los Angeles, CA
Phyllis Bradley-Parker is a dedicated children's advocate who offers a proven track record of 28+ years of exemplary educational program management and is a seasoned curriculum developer. Her expertise is demonstrated through skilled facilitation and comprehensive content implementation. She is passionate about supporting underserved children in their communities and is committed to increasing educational and creative opportunities for all children.
Top 5 Strengths: Achiever | Learner | Relator | Futuristic | Ideation
Top 5 Character Strengths: Honesty | Teamwork | Humor | Love of Learning | Perserverance
Erica Cardoso, Risk Management Associate (she/her/hers)
Think Together, Santa Ana, CA
Erica has been a part of after school for 17+ years and 16+ years have been at Think Together. She has held various positions from Site Coordinator to Regional Operations Analyst and is currently the Risk Management Associate. Erica has her Bachelor's Degree in Sociology and Minor in English from California State University, Los Angeles. In addition, she's held a Cosmetology License for 20+ years, loves to explore various creative talents, and is always seeking a fun new journey! Erica's home away from home is Terceira, Azores - a destination she recommends adding to your travel bucket list!
Top 5 Strengths: Includer | Achiever | Communication | Woo | Responsibility
Top 5 Character Strengths: Fairness | Bravery | Kindness | Creativity | Perseverance
Ana Danielson, Program Coordinator (she/her/hers)
Mono County Office of Education, Mammoth Lakes, CA
Ana has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Spanish Language and Literature. She has lived and worked in many countries and thoroughly enjoys traveling, hiking, snowboarding and reading. She believes learning should be fun and strives to share her enthusiasm for languages and learning with others. Ana has worked in education and public libraries for years. She has served on non-profit boards, and state, and local committees and works to enhance community resources specifically related to lifelong educational opportunities, and continues to focus her energy on improving and enhancing educational resources for students and families.
Top 5 Strengths: Input | Intellection | Achiever | Responsibility | Learner
Top 5 Character Strengths: Kindness | Zest | Love | Fairness | Curiosity
Rancho Mirage, CA
I worked in the educational field for 20+ years. I received my bachelor’s degree in accounting from Cal State Fullerton in 1982. After working as an accountant for 18 years and raising my two daughters, I returned to school and received my single-subject math and multiple-subject teaching credentials from the University of La Verne, as well as a Master’s degree in Education. In 2005 I received my Administrative Credential from Cal Poly Pomona. From 2009-2021 I oversaw the afterschool program for Pomona Unified School District supporting up to 28 school sites, approximately 150 staff members, and about 2,500 students daily. I retired in June 2021 and now enjoy volunteering, vacationing, and spending time with friends and family.
Top 5 Character Strengths: Creativity | Judgment | Teamwork | Fairness | Kindness
Knisha (Knash) Nash, Learning & Development Manager (she/her/hers)
Think Together, Riverside, CA
Knisha has worked in Education for nearly 15+ years. She has served students in Elementary, Middle and High School programs before entering her current role as the Learning and Development Manager at Think Together. What she loves about her work is that she has the opportunity to grow, motivate and inspire success in Leaders, Programs and Students and equip them with the skills necessary to serve students in engaging programs that support Academic and Life Skills. With experience as a coach for competitive Cheerleading and Dance, Knisha brings a passion that is disciplined, but at the same time fun and full of spirit.
Blanca Orellana, Director of Middle School and Multigenerational Programs (she/her/hers)
Bresee Foundation, Los Angeles, CA
Blanca Orellana discovered her passion for OST while working for an after school program during her last semester at San Diego State. After college, she moved back to Los Angeles to help her parents open their restaurant and four years later was hired at Bresee Foundation where she’s been working for over 16 years. As the Director for Middle School and Multigenerational Programs, Blanca works with youth, parents and senior adults to bridge generational gaps. Through intentional programming, meaningful relationships, and resources, she strives to provide positive program experiences with lifelong memories.
Top 5 Strengths: Restorative | Responsibility | Deliberative | Consistency | Learner
Top 5 Character Strengths: Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence | Judgment | Fairness | Honesty | Creativity
James Stephens, Realtor (he/him/his)
Nationwide Real Estate Executives & San Diego Unified School District, San Diego, CA
James Stephens has worked in the out-of-school time field since 1978. From 1990 to 2015, Jim served as the Director of the Child Development Services with Orange Unified School District. After more than 34 years working in the field of education, James “retired” and is working full-time as a Realtor and a Substitute Teacher in San Diego. In addition to undergraduate degrees in Child Development and Business, James has a Masters in Education, which allowed him the opportunity to teach child/human development courses at Cal State Fullerton and several of the local community colleges in Orange County. He has been involved with the BOOST Conference since 2007 and loves serving on the Leadership Team. James is the father of two grown children, daughter, Waverly, and son, Spencer.
Top 5 Strengths: Positivity | Maximizer | Futuristic | Developer | Strategic
Top 5 Character Strengths: Humor | Fairness | Gratitude | Creativity | Forgiveness
BOOST Conference On-Site Support Team
Jeanette Cruz, Sr. Director of Risk Management (she/her/hers)
Think Together, Hacienda Heights, CA
Jeanette Cruz is the Sr. Director of Risk Management for Think Together and has been working in the expanded learning field for over 15 years. She has been with Think Together for 13 years and started as a Site Coordinator. Through her years of service, Jeanette has held a variety of positions focusing on staff development and non-profit management. Her passion for education has led her to obtain a B.S. in Public Health Education from Cal State Northridge and a Master’s in Public Administration with a focus in Nonprofit Management from the University of La Verne. She has been an active BOOSTer since 2019 as an attendee, BOOST Leadership Team member, and volunteer.
Eddie Garcia, Director (he/him/his)
Think Together, Santa Ana, CA
Eddie García has been in the educational field for over 29 years. He is currently the Director of Student Support Services for the Lennox School District. In this capacity, Mr. Garcia coordinates intervention programs and services to support students by addressing the academic, behavioral, social, and emotional needs of children to maximize achievement and growth. Prior to working with the student support services office, Eddie was the Director of the Expanded Learning Program, working to provide a safe environment for students to participate in a quality after school program that included academic enrichment, physical fitness, visual and performing arts, college/career awareness, and provided a strong focus on Youth Development.
Eddie graduated from California State University, Dominguez Hills in 1999, where he received his degree in Liberal Arts. After raising his teenage nephew and niece because of the passing of his beloved sister, Eddie pursued a Master's Degree in Public Administration from California State University, Long Beach. He strongly believes that higher education is the key to success and continuously reinforces it with the students of Lennox. While Mr. Garcia has a wide variety of experience and knowledge, what he enjoys most is providing professional development because it allows him time to connect with other educational professionals in the county to enhance the school experience for students in the Southern California area.
Top 5 Strengths: Adaptability | Relator | Deliberative | Ideation | Belief
Christine Lafontant, Regional Manager (she/her/hers)
County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation, San Diego, CA
Christine Lafontant is a Region Manager for the County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation. She is responsible for managing park facilities including Waterfront Park, one of the county’s most significant outdoor event venues, and coordinating major special events such as community festivals and countywide movies in the park series. She was previously responsible for administrative and fiscal functions for all programs and activities targeting all age groups in 3 community centers and 2 teen centers, organizing major special events including health fairs and youth diversion programs such as the Outdoor Adventure Program for at-risk and foster youth. Christine holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston College and has over 20 years of experience in the field of recreation and youth programming. She has been the program coordinator of after school and summer programs and has served as a consultant and trainer for over 300 after school programs in San Diego County. In addition, she served in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps for two years where she developed a passion for service learning. Christine is a Certified Festival and Events Associate through the International Festivals and Events Association and National Recreation and Parks Association.
Caitlyn Monaco, CARES Program Lead Teacher (she/her/hers)
Orange Unified School District, Orange, CA
Caitlyn Monaco has worked for Orange Unified School District for the past 14 years. Her bubbly personality and commitment to family and children quickly moved her up the ranks and allowed her to attend the BOOST Conference where she fell in love with the positive atmosphere and networking which BOOST provides. Presently, she is working towards her Associate's Degree both in Childhood Education & Biological Sciences. She loves exploring the world, getting messy, great movies, and taking naps. Born in New York and raised in California, Caitlyn has a unique perspective to life: Enjoy it and don’t sweat the small stuff, just “Fugetaboutit Dude.”
Top 5 Strengths: Positivity | Strategic | Communication | Discipline | Includer
Top 5 Character Strengths: Zest | Kindness | Gratitude | Hope | Love
Michael Mosher, Retired/Consultant (he/him/his)
Rancho Mirage, CA
Mike retired after a 37-year career in sales and marketing with the largest multinational food and beverage company in the world, Nestle SA. Mike held increasing levels of leadership with the company working in the U.S. with national responsibility and international projects. After retirement Mike joined Fullerton College as an Adjunct Professor teaching business courses both on campus and remotely. Mike has a BA in Marketing from Cal State Fullerton and an MBA from the University of La Verne. Competencies that enabled strong results through others include coaching and development, energizing and engaging employees, and influencing with integrity, insight, and courage.
Dave Palmer, Founder/Chief Dunker (he/him/his)
Dunk Tank Marketing, La Mesa, CA
ElizaBeth Parker Phillips, Deputy Director- Support Services (she/her/hers)
Catalyst Family, Inc., Sacramento, CA
Top 5 Character Strengths: Creativity | Humor | Perseverance | Love | Curiosity
Mary Jo Ginty, Region 11 Lead
Los Angeles County Office of Education, Downey, CA
Mary Jo Ginty is the former Regional Lead/Program Coordinator at the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) After School Technical Assistance Unit. This Unit provides staff training and development, consultation, and technical assistance services to the 1300+ school sites that support after school programs funded through the After School Education and Safety Program (ASES) and/or 21st Century Community Learning Center grants. Over 130,000 students participate in these programs which also provide over 10,000 employment opportunities in the county. Ms. Ginty directed and oversaw after school programs at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. She experienced the power of change that these programs brought to students and their families. Her professional experiences over the past years include: Owner of a successful consulting firm, high school teacher, high school principal, college professor, lobbyist, and community organizer. She holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from UCLA and a Bachelors's Degree in Business and Social Welfare Administration from Ursuline College. Her spare time is spent enjoying her family, leading a Junior Girl Scout troop, music, and cooking in all forms, and sitting on the Board of Directors of her 10-year-old daughter’s school. Mary Jo Ginty believed that after school programs have the potential to assist youth to gain the skill sets, tools, and knowledge and have the experiences necessary to make a life for themselves and their families.
Click the image below to read some of our BOOST Leadership Team member's accolades.
Interested in joining the BOOST Leadership Team?
We have opportunities to be a part of the BOOST Leadership Team, Implementation Team, or On-site Support Team. Join us as a part of our diverse body of expanded learning and in and out-of-school time program representatives in the field.
We are committed to diversity and to equal opportunity and do not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, age, height, weight, physical or mental ability (including HIV status), veteran status, military obligations, or marital status. At BOOST and in all BOOST-related activities and events, we affirm the sexual orientation and gender identity of each individual and aim to create LGBTQ-inclusive and affirming environments and learning opportunities. This policy applies to hiring, internal, promotions, training opportunities, advancement opportunities, and terminations. This policy also applies to all employees, Leadership Team members, volunteers, clients, and contractors that present/speak/exhibit at or sponsor BOOST-related activities and events.
BOOST Leadership Team Contact
Tia Quinn, Founder & CEO