Carla Sanger, M.ED.

From 1988 to 2015, Carla Sanger, M.Ed., served as president and chief executive officer of LA's BEST (Better Educated Students for Tomorrow) After School Enrichment Program. 

In the span of her more than forty-five-year career, Sanger has been a specialist in children's education policy and advocacy in both the public and private sector. She's worked as a public school teacher in Baltimore and was a curriculum writer, the supervisor of day care services for the state of New Jersey, executive director of LA Child Care & Development Council, president of the California Children's Council, and co-chair of the California State Department of Education Task Force on School Readiness.

In 1969, Sanger co-founded a K-12 school (Nuevo Colegio Bilingue Larchmont) in Bogotá, Colombia, that remains active to this day.

As an activist in the after school movement, Sanger led efforts to help write and support California's Statewide Proposition for afterschool (Prop 49), creating a $500 million funding stream for the children in the state. She created the League of California After School Providers and established Beyond the Bell—the first central division in the history of LAUSD with a shared vision for afterschool. Most recently, she helped lead a successful community response to save funding for LAUSD's Youth Services program. She is currently advocating for expanded learning programs to be added to the national education reform debate.

Nationally recognized in the field of afterschool programs, Sanger has served on numerous afterschool quality and evaluation advisory committees and task forces for the U.S. Department of Education, the State of California, and the County of Los Angeles. She was appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to the California State Advisory Committee on Before and After School Programs and continues to serve as Gov. Jerry Brown's appointee. She also has been appointed by several California State Superintendents of Public Instruction to task forces, including the Title I Committee of Practitioners, as well as by Los Angeles Mayors James Hahn and Antonio Villaraigosa to the LA President's Joint Commission on LAUSD Governance.

Sanger has received numerous government commendations from federal, state, and local legislators. She received the Wishing Well award from the Los Angeles Women Police Officers, the Pursuit of Justice award from the California Women's Law Center, a Treasure of Los Angeles award from the Central City Business Association of Los Angeles, an Angel award from the Child Lifesaving Foundation, an Arts & Entertainment Channel Community Hero award, and a Leading Boldly award from the Los Angeles Children's Planning Council. In 2007, she was honored by PODER Magazine and the Boston Consulting Group with the Education's Best Award and 1,000 trees were planted in her name.

A long-time activist, Sanger has served on various community boards of directors including the California Women's Law Center, United Way Metro Region, Child & Family Services, Highland Hall School, Northridge Knights Youth Sports League, Getty House Children's Committee and Dolores Mission Women's Cooperative.

Sanger has been a featured speaker and conference presenter for numerous school districts throughout California, and keynote speaker for the California State Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Education, and countless community-based after school organizations throughout the United States. She holds a B.A. degree from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.Ed. from Goucher College.

Sanger is married to Academy Award-winning film producer Jonathan Sanger and has two sons, David and Christopher; two grandsons, Harrison and Miles; and two granddaughters, Zada and Liliana. She retired from her post as president and CEO of LA's BEST in November 2014.

What are the afterschool accomplishments are you most proud of?
My most unique accomplishment would be the creation of Beyond the Bell, a central division within Los Angeles Unified School District over all afterschool programs in district public schools. It represented a systemic change by creating a shared vision in the nation's second largest school district, which in turn built a protective factor for youth development principles to trump remediation as a primary focus for afterschool programs in LA.

Where do you see the field in ten years?
In ten years, every school in the United States will be open until at least 6 p.m. and will be a center for advocacy for children, youth, and their families. Principals will be held accountable for their support of these programs.

What are the biggest opportunities for the afterschool industry?
The biggest opportunity for the afterschool industry is to maximize social media to widen the reach to inform and advocate for what best helps kids learn, in ways that are individually and developmentally appropriate.

What are the biggest challenges facing afterschool?
The biggest challenge is to gain and hold the freedom, flexibility, and leverage with school districts and public and private funders, to continue what high-quality afterschool providers do, rather than what non-afterschool practitioners think might better close an achievement gap.

What makes an afterschool program successful?
Any afterschool program is successful when children, staff, and parents continue to learn and grow in a safe, supportive, and fun environment, every day.

Edited by Amy L Charles, editorial director of AfterSchool Today magazine, the Official Publication of the National AfterSchool Association.