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Presenter Profiles


2021 BOOST Conference Speakers & Presenters

Christina AanensonChristina Aanenson (she/her/hers)
Christina Aanenson has been working in the OST field for over 12 years. She has a BAS degree in Psychology from the University of Minnesota Duluth and a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education from Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Outside of her career, she loves to spend her time running, being outdoors with family, and snuggling with her kitties. 

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

David E. Alexander BS MDavid E. Alexander, BS, M.Ed. (he/him/his)
David Alexander, BS, M.Ed. is a nationally recognized NASA STEM specialist with a proven track record in project management, technical expertise in aeronautics research education, and specialized knowledge in STEM education and Instructional Design. With a technical background in neurology research and over 12 years of experience in education he has been an advocate for inspiring students with lessons emphasizing engineering, human exploration, robotics, and Earth/planetary sciences. He participates and leads the development and implementation of major educational programs on a national scope which are designed to inspire the nation students.

Pilar AlvarezPilar Alvarez (she/her/hers)
Pilar began her career as an actress but committed herself to education after seeing the positive effects of arts education on her theater students. Pilar previously was the After School Program Arts Coordinator at LA’s Best where she created successful partnerships between teaching artists and LAUSD elementary schools, and has taught theater arts at various organizations across the country, including in Compton, San Francisco, LA, and Atlanta. Pilar is currently the Education Director at Young Storytellers and holds a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance from The College of Santa Fe and a M.A. in Theatre for Youth from C.S.U. San Bernardino.

Amy AndersonAmy Anderson (she/her/hers)
A Tulsa native, Amy serves as the Senior Manager for Experiential Learning at The Opportunity Project. In this role, she engages schools and community partners in providing high-quality expanded learning opportunities to middle-schoolers through a program called AfterOpp. Amy has served in roles in both programs and research in the non-profit and academic sectors. She is an advocate for her community and especially for its youngest members. Her passion for building meaningful connections between service providers and families fuels her work at The Opp.

Kourtney AndradaKourtney Andrada (she/her/hers)
Kourtney, a Southern California native, moved to the Bay Area after graduating from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Kourtney began her career in youth work as a College Advisor for first-generation students in Watsonville, CA through UCSC’s Education Opportunity Program. In 2006, she came to Girls Inc., where she is currently a Program Manager. Kourtney’s work with young people has ranged from direct service and coordinating middle and high school programs, to managing elementary and middle school programs for girls. Kourtney has also facilitated training both locally and on a national level with the goal of supporting the efforts to professionalize the Out-of-School Time field. Kourtney’s passion for working with youth is demonstrated through her diligence and commitment to the youth, families, community members, and youth workers specifically throughout the East Bay.

Robb ArmstrongRobb Armstrong (he/him/his)
Robb Armstrong is the Program Manager for Dylan’s Wings of Change and a Master Trainer for the Wingman Program. Robb has been facilitating social-emotional learning, team building, leadership and staff development, and teacher trainings for the last 15+ years.

Erica BarruetoErica Barrueto (she/her/hers)
Erica strives to share her love of science and engineering to empower youth and adults to create and to think critically. It is a passion of hers to inspire the same spark in educators across the world, and in all areas of STEM and reflective practice. Erica has a B.S. in molecular and cell biology from U.C. Berkeley. At The Tech, Erica leads efforts to support educators as they develop the next generation of problem solvers via Design Challenge Learning. This work includes the development of educator resources and establishing partnerships with like-minded organizations around the world.

Deputy Chief Todd BettisonDeputy Chief Todd Bettison
Deputy Chief Todd Bettison has worked for the Detroit Police Department for 25 years. Deputy Chief Bettison graduated from Wayne State University with a Baccalaureate Degree in Criminal Justice in 1996. Deputy Chief Bettison currently works directly for the Chief of Police, James E. Craig, and is the Detroit Police Department's Neighborhood Community Liaison. He is committed to bridging the gap between the community and law enforcement. Deputy Chief Bettison has been consistently rewarded for his hard work and dedication to building a better Detroit. His rewards are a direct result of his expertise in management, as well as, his commitment to personal and professional excellence. Deputy Chief Bettison's approach to bridging the gap between the police and community is centered around working with the people in the neighborhoods. 

Hamish BrewerHamish Brewer (he/him/his)
Hamish Brewer known as the relentless, tattooed, skateboarding principal from Northern Virginia isn't your normal principal. Hamish is high octane, constantly calling on his students to "Be Relentless." Mr. Brewer has become known as an educational disrupter who transcends the status quo and typical educational norms.

Mr. Brewer is an award-winning principal at both the secondary and elementary school levels. He was recognized in 2017 as the NAESP Nationally Distinguished Principal and Virginia Principal of the year. He has also been recognized as the 2016 VAESP School Bell Award and ASCD Virginia Impact Award. In 2018 Hamish was named a Northern Virginian of the year by Northern Virginia Magazine and the 2018 Principal of the Year for the online national publication - Education Dive. In 2019 Prince William County Public Schools named Hamish the school division's Principal of the Year. In 2020 Hamish was recently recognized by Omega U as the principal of the year.

Under his leadership - his elementary school was recognized as a Nationally Distinguished Title 1 School, and Hamish has since gone on to turn around one of the toughest middle schools in the state of Virginia. 

Mr. Brewer is a highly sought-after international keynote speaker - motivating and inspiring audiences everywhere around the world, including being recognized as a TEDx speaker.

Originally from New Zealand where he earned his first degree from the University of Auckland. Mr. Brewer is currently a doctoral student at Virginia Tech University. Hamish is the best-selling author of "Relentless - Disrupting The Educational Norm", published in 2019.

Mr. Brewer previously served at the state level as the Federal Relations Coordinator on the Board of Directors with the Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals and is currently the lead fellow of NAESP's Center for Innovative Leadership. He is a school turnaround and school improvement specialist, working with some of the most at-risk students in the United States.

Mr. Brewer was highlighted as a Hometown Hero by Fox 5 in Washington, DC. With more than 32 million views and his story has become a viral sensation through the Freethink Docuseries "Relentless", and being highlighted on all the national news broadcasts here in the US and in Australasia, including with NBC and Lester Holt. Mr. Brewer is also being featured this summer in the skateboarding humanitarian documentary Humanity Stoked.

Phil Brown roundPhil Brown (he/him/his)
Phil joined the High 5 team in May 2015 having previously worked in Adventure and Outdoor education for 7 years. Phil brings high energy and devotion to the Adventure field and has presented at the NEYCC, ACA New England, ACCT, Northeast and International AEE, BOOST, several regional Physical Ed conferences, and at the High 5 Symposium. He is also one of the co-authors of the book “Tinker: Building Purposeful Experiences from Classic Adventure Activities” and the producer/host of “High 5 Adventure – The Podcast”.

Veronica Calvo roundVeronica Calvo (she/her/hers)
Veronica Calvo serves as the Senior Manager of Partnerships for Inspire Teaching and Learning at National University. She is responsible for the external outreach of in-service and preservice teacher training and development as well as the dissemination of the Inspire curriculum, resources, and best practices integrated into teacher development programs across the country.

Jasmine Castleberry (she/her/hers)Jasmine Castleberry
As a long-time education professional Jasmine Castleberry has led multiple youths and staff development efforts in many organizations across the nation and has developed performance-based, goal-oriented solutions through effective staff management and program planning workshops. Her ability to connect with any audience and specialty in workshop facilitation has allowed her to serve as a presenter locally and nationally. Jasmine’s performance-driven passion for the out-of-school time comes from the thousands of students she has seen this work serve–and the many more who could be impacted by high-quality programming.

Regino ChavezRegino Chávez (he/him/his)
Regino is the Director of Evaluation for LA’s BEST, and he received his B.A. degree in sociology from Pitzer College and his M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley. He has over 35 years of experience in educational research and has extensive experience in evaluating educational programs in the U.S. as well as internationally. His work has included assessments of preschool programs as well as policy work for investing in early childhood education, investing in girls’ education, improving educational quality and, training educational practitioners in the use of research for improving classroom practices. He has been involved with the field of expanded learning for over 20 years, first as the President of the Board of Directors of S.T.A.R, Inc. then as Director of Evaluation for LA’s BEST. In 2019, he wrote a three-part series on The Evaluation Basics as a guest blogger for the Afterschool Alliance’s Evaluating Afterschool series.

Sherry Colgan StoneSherry Colgan Stone, Ed.D. (she/her/hers)
Dr. Sherry Colgan Stone has worked 29 years in education and mental health, spending the last 20 years focusing on safety, security and emergency management.  She enjoys serving as Chula Vista Elementary School District’s first full-time Emergency Preparedness & Security Manager, meeting the of the largest elementary school district in CA. Dr. Stone serves on the Board of Directors and Education Sector Chief for the San Diego InfraGard, Advisory Board for the Joyful Child Foundation and on the Board of Directors of the Chula Vista Police Activities League.  She is a volunteer employee with the Riverside County Sheriff Emergency Response Team.

Jenn ConnerJenn Conner (she/her/hers)
Jenn Conner is Director of the Center for Afterschool and Expanded Learning, supporting out-of-school time programs through the design and delivery of professional development. Jenn also collaborates and consults with national organizations on the creation of afterschool content. Before coming to Foundations, Jenn worked with Philadelphia-area youth both in school day and out-of-school time settings. She holds a Master’s degree in Secondary Education from Chestnut Hill College and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Temple University. 

Mashona CouncilMashona Council (she/her/hers)
Mashona Council is a seasoned youth development professional with over 15 years of experience working with youth-serving nonprofits throughout the country and internationally. She established her own consulting firm, Council Consulting, to help youth development organizations grow by providing leadership training and coaching, strategic planning and visioning, program design, evaluation, and management. She has facilitated professional development training at Boys and Girls Club Keystone Conferences, Association of C5 Youth Programs Annual Summit, and Crossroads for Kids summer staff training.

Todd CreekmoreTodd Creekmore (he/him/his)
Todd Creekmore grew up in Nashville, Tennessee alongside his sister, Faith, and graduated from the University of Alabama in 2016. Upon graduation, Todd began pursuing his passion and love for youth and leadership development. That journey has taken him throughout the United States, across Europe, to Chile, and now to Los Angeles and Fulcrum. His wealth is derived from his relationships and the people he’s fortunate to interact with on a daily basis through work. Other passions include swimming, pizza, NBA basketball, open water, mountains, sleeping by candlelight, and rising by the sun.

Jessy Cuddy roundJessy Cuddy (she/her/hers)
Jessy leads efforts to engage with, support, and optimize learnings from the national network of CIS affiliates across the United States. Her passion for partnership engagement and high-quality, evidence-based student supports stems from a background in social work and experiences in local, state, and national program implementation and management. Prior to joining the CIS National Office, Mrs. Cuddy was the Associate Director of Psychosocial Programs for Save the Children US. She is a graduate of Tulane University with a master’s degree in social work.

Jeff Davis roundJeff Davis (he/him/his)
Jeff has worked with CAN since its inception in 2006. He has played an integral role in creating quality frameworks, organizing 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. He has helped to shape statewide expanded learning technical assistance and workforce development efforts. Jeff’s most recent work has centered around supporting CAN’s transition of fiscal sponsors and procuring funds to support CAN’s future work in support of the field.

Jennifer DietrichJen Dietrich (she/her/hers)
Jen is the Director of Policy at the Partnership for Children & Youth, a statewide nonprofit focusing on high-quality learning opportunities for under-resourced communities. Jen coordinates the California Afterschool Advocacy Alliance (CA3) to improve the quality of and access to expanded learning programs. Jen joined PCY in 2012 with several years of legislative experience at the state and federal levels. She was a 2018-19 White-Riley- Peterson Afterschool & Expanded Learning Policy Fellow.

Bella DiMarcoBella DiMarco (she/her/hers)
Bella joined the Afterschool Alliance team in January 2020 to support the efforts of both the research and field outreach teams. Prior to joining the Alliance, Bella worked in various after school and summer programs including Horizons national, Communities in Schools, Higher Achievement, and the Youth Life Foundation of Richmond. She graduated from the University of Richmond where she majored in Leadership Studies and Psychology, and minored in Education and Society.

Tyler DowneyTyler Downey (he/him/his)
Tyler Downey has a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Education. Devoting himself to education for the last 20 years, he has worked as an elementary classroom teacher, full-time gifted education instructor, and librarian. During that time, he also runs numerous science camps and clubs in both summer and after-school contexts, emphasizing hands-on experiential learning. He is a lifelong learner who continually seeks to expand his knowledge in both his personal and professional life and since joining the PCS team has become obsessed with all things drone.

Dr. Vincent Pompei, Director, Youth Well-Being Project, Human Rights Campaign FoundationDr. Vincent Pompei (he/him/his)
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.

Jeff M. PoulinJeff M. Poulin (he/him/his)
Jeff M. Poulin is the founder of Creative Generation, working to inspire, connect, and amplify the work of organizations and individuals committed to cultivating the creative capacities of young people. As a recognized leader, he previously led a national program, where he advanced local, state, and federal policies supportive of equitable access to arts learning throughout the U.S. A seasoned educator, Jeff teaches at several universities and trains 10,000+ people annually around the globe. Jeff is a tap dancer by trade and continues to mentor young dancers in the U.S. and in the U.K.

Lauren Puzen roundLauren Puzen (she/her/hers)
Lauren has experience and education in cross-sector initiatives in public health, youth development, education, and social services. As the Harmony Director, she has a motivational leadership style to inspire and empower staff. Formerly, she led Healthier Generation to expand its focus from childhood obesity to Whole Child health through developing strategic national partnerships and stewarding funder relationships to result in over $8.5 million for national programmatic expansion. Her extensive background on the community level greatly influences her success scaling initiatives.

Sumiya RahamanSumiya Rahaman (she/her/hers)
Sumiya Rahaman is a 16-year-old from Carroll County, Maryland, and a current sophomore at Westminster High School. As an immigrant from Bangladesh, she became interested in activism when she experienced and observed the difference in education inequalities in both Bangladesh & the United States. She began her initiative to advocate for youth rights by joining National Children's Campaign. She is currently an organizer for National Children's Campaign and is actively involved with NCC's initiative ED Across America. Sumiya is also involved in local activism as the co-founder & executive director of Carroll Kids for Equality, a student advocacy group pushing for equitable education in Carroll County School.  In her free time, Sumiya enjoys debating, painting, and having late-night calls with her friends.

Vereaux ReynoldsVereaux Reynolds (she/her/hers)
Vereaux Reynolds is an Entrepreneur and Operations leader. She combines her passion for empowering youth with her business acumen and experience working in a large school system to operate Rising Tide Professional Services LLC helping young people overcome barriers to professional success while authentically living with passion and in purpose through transformational workshop series. Vereaux studied Mechanical Engineering at the Univ. of Southern California, earned an MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership through a 2-year full-time residency program with the Broad Center.

Lisa Rice roundLisa Rice (she/her/hers)
Lisa’s 30+ years of experience in school-age care spans all aspects of afterschool program practice and management. This practical and applied knowledge has led her to a dynamic understanding of the challenges and joys of working with school-age youth during out-of-school time. Lisa has a Bachelor of Education Degree from Northern Arizona University. She enjoys traveling, meeting new people, and living on the Central Coast of California.

Aleah RosarioAleah Rosario (she/her/hers)
Aleah Rosario leads the Expanded Learning project for the Workforce Development team of the Foundation for California Community Colleges. Previously, Aleah oversaw the country’s first year-long leadership development fellowship for emerging leaders of color in the out-of-school time field, various professional development initiatives to build the capacity of youth workers, and grassroots advocacy efforts in support of afterschool policies and funding. She is an alum of CalSAC’s Leadership Development Institute and is a White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellow.

Eric Rowles roundEric Rowles (he/him/his)
Eric Rowles is a BOOST Ambassador and one of the country's most sought-after experts on generational diversity, millennial culture, substance abuse prevention, and workforce development. He 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.

Stacy RuffStacy Ruff (she/her/hers)
Stacy Ruff is a youth workforce development consultant who is passionate about equipping youth with the skills needed to succeed in the 21st-century workplace.  She is an experienced facilitator, advisor, and program developer who combines her passion and experience to help youth organizations design high-quality learning experiences that promote workforce readiness. Stacy began her career as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching youth entrepreneurship and co-authoring a teaching manual for Peace Corps Nicaragua.  She gained additional experience through her work with Junior Achievement of Georgia, the City of Atlanta 21stCCLC, The National Center for Global Engagement, YouthBuild Atlanta, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Carlos SantiniCarlos Santini (he/him/his)
Carlos will be managing our team focused on supporting all chapters around programs and evaluations. Previously, Carlos was part of the team that helped launch the Los Angeles chapter of After-School All-Stars in 2002, spending close to 13 years working with Ana Campos and others in helping establish ASAS LA as one of the largest, leading after school programs in California. Most recently Carlos served as the Associate Director for ASAS-LA and focused on securing program partners, establishing organizational infrastructure, leading the organization’s professional development agenda, designing program quality initiatives and metrics and assisted the executive leadership in raising program revenue. Before ASAS, Carlos spent three years working for various public relations firms in the tech industry. Carlos is a graduate of UCLA where he majored in history and worked for various youth programs including UCLA UniCamp, UCLA’s Youth and Family Programs, and Skyhawks Sports during the summers. Carlos is a native of Honduras in Central America and is married. He and his wife have two little girls.

Sarita SashingtonSarita Sashington (she/her/hers)
Sarita Sashington is the Strategic Relationship Manager responsible for the growth, management and nurturing of Be Strong Families Café Community of Practice & International Relationships. Sarita believes in nurturing the spirit of family, creating safe spaces for transformational conversations, and the power of cultural humility.  

Troy Selvey (he/him/his)Troy Selvey copy
Troy joined CAN in August 2017. Prior he 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 with Star Education and Boys and Girls Club. Troy grew up attending expanded learning programs. He knows they helped make him the person he is today and hopes to continue to pass on the gift he received as a child to the youth of today. Troy received his BA in Organization Communications from CSU Sacramento and his Master’s in Coaching and Athletic Administration from Concordia University of Irvine.

Stu Semigran, President & CEO, EduCareStu Semigran (he/him/his)
Stu has more than thirty years of experience as an educator, developing and facilitating training programs for youth and adults in educational settings worldwide. He has trained thousands of youth, professionals, educators, and parents in leadership development, dropout prevention, conflict resolution, violence prevention, team building, self-esteem, and service-learning programs. Mr. Semigran holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, a California Lifetime Teaching Credential and a Master’s Degrees in Theology and Psychology. Mr. Semigran has developed an education curriculum, including Making the Best of Me: A Handbook for Student Excellence and Self-Esteem. From 1995-2000, in his position as EduCare’s President, Stu was instrumental in implementing school reform at over 70 schools and children’s centers through the Annenberg Project; LEARN Reform of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Mr. Semigran also currently serves on LAUSD Beyond The Bell’s Take Action Campaign steering committee. Under his leadership, EduCare has grown to serve over 25,000 students each year. Stu was a 2012 Humanitarian Award recipient, recognized by the David Chow Humanitarian Award Foundation for his service to youth.

Khariyyah ShabazzKhariyyah Shabazz (she/her/hers)
Khariyyah Shabazz obtained her bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Cal State East Bay. After dipping her toes into the corporate life, she immediately chose to seek a job with purpose. Khariyyah has worked in youth development for the past 10 years with the organization's Higher Ground. Six of those years she spent facilitating after school programs at Madison Park Academy and New Highland Academy. Khariyyah is currently responsible for running the entire organization which includes managing all outside partnerships and contracts, managing our peer leadership workforce development program, and training all after school program sites.

Lee ShepardLee Shepard (she/her/hers)
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. 

Sanjula SinghalSanjula Singhal (she/her/hers)
Sanjula is a Senior Associate for the UNICEF Kid Power program, where she supports the programmatic and partnership work to empower kids. Through her international upbringing, she developed a passion about leveraging innovation to create impact and uplift communities globally. Sanjula holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in Biology and Society, with a concentration in International Development, and a minor in Business.

Jacqueline Stedman roundJacqueline Stedman (she/her/hers)
Jacqueline joined the Communities In Schools National Office in June 2016. In her role as Senior Program Manager for Learning and Practice, she manages the design, creation, and implementation of learning initiatives for the CIS network. Jacqueline holds a bachelor’s degree from Duke University in psychology and education. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and spending as much time as possible outdoors. 

Alexis Steines roundAlexis Steines Rao (she/her/hers)
As the Senior Director of Field Outreach, Alexis Steines serves as the liaison between the Afterschool Alliance and its growing network of afterschool providers. She keeps the field up-to-date on the ever-changing afterschool policy landscape and mobilizes them to affect the development of afterschool-related public policy.  Alexis directs the Afterschool Alliance’s national AmeriCorps VISTA project focused on creating sustainable afterschool programs, increasing participation in the afterschool and summer meal programs and expanding access to STEM education afterschool. 

Angela StricklandAngela Strickland (she/her/hers)
Angela Strickland is a Program Director for the YMCA of Western North Carolina. She has an Early Childhood Degree, along with Administrative Credentials in Early Childhood and Childcare Business Basics. She has worked with the YMCA for 10 years as well as the local school district, directing their afterschool programs and as a teaching assistant. She loves the outdoors, singing, camping, travel, and helping with service programs. Angela has a true passion for working with youth and families. 

Umama Suriya roundUmama Suriya (she/her/hers)
Umama Suriya is the Impact Film Director of the National Children's Campaign. She is currently a freshman in college and lives in Dallas, Texas. She is very interested in youth activism and is currently directing an environmental documentary with her team at the National Children's Campaign. 

Umama has made many films to inspire people around her to keep fighting with their mental health, along with a film about the Black Lives Matter movement. Umama has had a lot of experience with filmmaking and has a goal to spread as much awareness and activism through her filmmaking as she can, which she hopes to achieve at the National Children's Campaign

Larry TaylorLarry Taylor (he/him/his)
Larry began his career in 2001 as a part-time youth development professional at KinderCare Education, where he was employed for more than eight years. Larry transitioned to the non-profit sector in 2017. Currently, he serves as the Executive Director of Youth Development for YMCA of Greater Houston. He oversees the daily operations of 200+ before/after school elementary school sites and 29 camps. In his free time, Larry enjoys serving at his church, working out plus spending time with family and friends. Larry graduated Cum Laude from Houston Baptist University with a BA in Business Management and Speech Communication.

David Tong, Director, TGR EDU: Create, TGR FoundationDavid Tong (he/him/his)
David Tong is the Director of TGR EDU: Create, TGR Foundation’s educator training program dedicated to broadening access to high-quality learning environments and unlocking student potential. Our educator opportunities incorporate interdisciplinary approaches with content focused on STEM, college access, and career connections. Continuous learning through in-person training and a collaborative online digital community will allow educators to adapt effective inquiry-based, student-centered pedagogy to emphasize positive youth development and student empowerment.

Dr. Kathleen Van AntwerpDr. Kathleen Van Antwerp (she/her/hers)
Dr. Van Antwerp is a leader in juvenile justice, youth outreach, and educational reform. For over 30 years she has been at the forefront of developing effective educational and youth outreach programs for at-risk children and adolescents in public schools, court and community schools, emergency care shelters, foster care, and juvenile hall.

Catherine Van Ness Catherine Van Ness (she/her/hers)
Catherine Van Ness joined Fight Crime: Invest in Kids in 2015, and serves as Associate Director for State Operations & Policy. In this role, she leads the organization's state policy work in New Jersey and New York, supports our nine-state offices, and manages the organization's afterschool campaign. Catherine has extensive experience in the nonprofit sector, previously with direct programming, providing educational and leadership opportunities to minority middle school students, and facilitating international dance exchange programming. Catherine is currently completing her Master's in Education Policy Studies at George Washington University.

Zoey Van PeppenZoey Van Peppen (she/her/hers)
Zoey Van Peppen is a high school junior at the Miller School of Albemarle in Charlottesville, VA. She is passionate about improving the environment through sustainable agriculture and increasing access to inclusive education. She is a member of the Friendship Circle of Virginia Leadership Board and the National Children’s Council to further her work with education and the environment. When not working in advocacy, Zoey enjoys reading, trying new foods, and participating in community theater productions. 

Dr. Femi VanceDr. Femi Vance, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)
Dr. Femi Vance is a researcher at American Institutes for Research where she researches and evaluates out-of-school time programs and provides technical assistance to youth development professionals. She has expertise in youth program quality, social and emotional learning, evaluation capacity building, and skill-building in youth programs. She strives to translate her research into practice. She is currently a National Summer Learning Field Consultant, and she serves on the board of the California School-Age Consortium. Dr. Vance holds a Master’s in Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. in Educational Policy from UC Irvine.

Ethan Vandivier roundEthan Vandivier (he/him/his) 
Ethan Ozan Özdek Vandivier is a 13-year-old Turkish-American youth climate activist from Washington DC. He has worked for and represented advocacy organizations like the National Children's Campaign, This is Zero Hour, Schools 4 Climate Action, Citizens' Climate Lobby, and Young Voices for the Planet. Ethan co-organized and spoke at the September Strikes in 2019. He also spoke at events like the Miami Zero Hour youth climate summit and the Citizen's Climate International Conference. 

Ethan started his advocacy by passing a climate resolution at his old school's SGA. The PTA board didn't pass the resolution. They also shut down his popular solar proposal which wouldn’t cost any money, out of plain hypocrisy. Ethan didn't stop, he just did more. He delivered that resolution along with thousands of other resolutions to members of Congress with Schools 4 Climate Action. Ethan has done a lot of lobbying and advocating for many pieces of legislation on Capitol Hill.  He tries to be as engaged politically as possible. 

Over quarantine, Ethan has made around 1000 phone banking calls to citizens about voting in the 2020 election and helping people get the COVID vaccine. Ethan has been seen in the media a couple of times like on CNN, C-SPAN, and Teen Observer. 

Leo VanWarmerdamLeo VanWarmerdam (he/him/his)
Leo is a passionate, high-energy facilitator known by his peers as a game master! His creativity expands beyond games as he has been customizing experiential programs for hundreds of organizations over the past 15 years. Growing up on a dairy farm near Sacramento, CA he brings a salt of the earth energy as a dynamic and highly intentional facilitator. From youth programs to staff and professional development experiences Leo is committed to creating fun and engaging experiences with equal importance on authentic takeaways and lasting impact. Leo lives in Venice, CA and the past five years has also worked on the CBS hit show SURVIVOR!
District Attorney Tori VerberDistrict Attorney Tori Verber Salazar
District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar has been a major force in San Joaquin County’s District Attorney Office. As the first woman District Attorney elected to the office in 2015, she has instituted sweeping reform and innovation in prosecution for the County, which supports a population of over 730,000 residents.

Through her leadership, DA Verber Salazar has implemented office-wide changes including the expansion of Victim-Witness services, the establishment of the Family Justice Center, and the creation of the first Political Integrity Unit dedicated to the prosecution of corruption cases —which has led to the successful prosecution of elected or appointed officials for misuse of the public trust.

DA Verber Salazar has worked to address the racial inequities in the past implementation of the criminal justice system and has made strides in restoring trust in the community. Her dedication to the community has long multi-generational roots. DA Verber Salazar was the Founder of the Empowering Young Women program that developed educational forums on date rape and domestic violence for high school girls and boys. She serves as an active member of the Ready to Work Program, a residential program for the homeless and previously incarcerated members of the county. And she is actively engaged with numerous community leaders in addressing the plight of the homeless and mentally ill in developing support systems that improve the quality of life of the growing homeless population in San Joaquin County.


Brooke Wheeldon ReeceBrooke Wheeldon-Reece, MBA (she/her/hers)
Brooke Wheeldon-Reece, MBA, is the President/CEO of The SPARK Initiative, Inc. - a non-profit organization in Tampa, FL. She is the founder and co-author of the evidence-based S.P.A.R.K. Mentoring Programs are currently being taught to 1000’s of children in Hillsborough County and 12 countries internationally. Brooke and her co-host Ashley Hunt work with youth in rehabilitation centers, jails, sex-trafficking survivor safe houses, and many other alternative settings with one objective - teach them a simple understanding of how their mind works, so they can tap into their own potential and thrive.

Heather Williams copyHeather Williams (she/her/hers)
Heather joined the CAN team in December 2018. Prior she worked in the Expanded Learning Division at the California Department of Education, overseeing the development and implementation of strategic plan efforts that reshaped the Division to focus on providing high-quality expanded learning opportunities for California’s youth. Before her work in Expanded Learning Heather worked at the California Treasury focusing on Public Bonds and Environmental Finance. She began her public service through here selection for the Executive Fellowship Program. Heather received her BA in Political Science from CSU Fullerton. 

Rasheda Kamaria WilliamsRasheda Kamaria Williams (she/her/hers)
Rasheda Kamaria Williams is an award-winning mentor/mentoring consultant, author of “Be EmPOWERed: How to Live Above  Beyond Life’s Drama” and chief empowering officer for Empowered Flower Girl – a social enterprise on a mission to transform the way young people relate to one another and themselves.

Nathaniel Gene WilsonNathaniel “Gene” Wilson (he/him/his)
Nathaniel Wilson is a Site Coordinator in Sacramento CA. Nathaniel has run programs in some of the most challenged socio-economic backgrounds in Sacramento CA. He enjoys investing back into his communities with his time, energy, and experience. Nathaniel Wilson also sits on CAN's Site Coordinator Network and is in year two of ASAP Connect's TA leadership cohort.

Nikki YamashiroNikki Yamashiro (she/her/hers)
Nikki works to coordinate and implement annual research activities, design surveys in the field and analyze research findings, and communicate the need for and successes of afterschool programs to stakeholders. Prior to joining the Afterschool Alliance, Nikki served as Policy Advisor at Third Way, where she handled domestic policy issues, and as a legislative assistant to former Rep. Hilda L. Solis, where she handled education and youth issues. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology from UC San Diego and a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy.

Wendy Zachrisen roundWendy Zachrisen (she/her/hers)
Wendy Zachrisen is a parent and a former teacher who has been supporting fellow educators and OST programs through her roles with educational product manufacturers and service providers for 23 years. Her current focus is marketing, strategy, and educational partnerships in conjunction with UNICEF Kid Power.


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