Influencing Afterschool and Out-of-School Time


The NAA's Most Influential in State and Local Government honorees were nominated by their National AfterSchool Association state affiliate for their work on behalf of the afterschool field.

These state and local government officials are distinguished for being strong advocates and supporters of afterschool and out-of-school time programs. Their service, research and action in local government influence and affect large numbers of children and families.

AfterSchool Today magazine asked the esteemed group to answer this question:

What do you feel is the greatest effect of afterschool programs—and what drives you to support them?

Congratulations to those being honored in 2016. Thank you for your continued support of afterschool and out-of-school time programs, and all whom they benefit!

NAA's Most Influential in State and Local Government

GwenAlexanderGwen Alexander
Associate Commissioner for Program Quality Supports | Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care | Boston, Massachusetts

"As a child growing up in the late 1970s-early 1980s, there were limited opportunities available in my community for afterschool activities. Since most families had at least one parent at home full time, afterschool child care simply was not available. My mother did work part time and I recall a junior high school neighbor babysitting my sisters and me a few afternoons a week after school. When I wasn't at home in the afternoon, I spent my time at the local YMCA engaged in various athletic lessons, practicing with the gymnastics team, or I just "hanging out" with friends in the supervised youth center. My time spent at the YMCA was instrumental in developing leadership skills, responsibility, and a sense of community. In fact, few experiences in my life have had such a great impact on me and I can hardly imagine what my life would have been like without my home away from home.

"Several decades later I looked for a similar environment for my own children. Ensuring that they were safe and happy while I was at work was imperative. My son was very active boy, while my daughter enjoyed quieter activities, and I soon learned that patience would be needed to find the right fit for both of my children. The afterschool program that I eventually chose operated at their school, allowing for less travel time, better communication with the school's faculty and administration, and reasonable tuition fees. They loved the variety of activities the program planned each day, socializing with friends, and learning from the staff, many of whom they admired. My biggest problem was getting my kids out of school and into the car at the end of the day!

"My children are now grown and I no longer have a need for child care. However, as the Associate Commissioner for Program Quality Supports at the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), I have the privilege of supporting Out of School Time (OST) programs throughout the state. In 2015 EEC provided child care subsidies for over 22,000 children attending Out of School Time programs. In my current role, I lead a team of Program Quality Specialists charged with development of policy that promotes high quality programing. Through self-assessment, individualized technical assistance, verification and monitoring, providers engage in a process of continuous quality improvement in key standards such as; health and safety; curriculum; assessment; interactions; professional development; family and community engagement; and administrative practice. EEC supports OST programs in meeting high quality standards, beyond Massachusetts' already stringent licensing regulations, through professional development opportunities and educator scholarships. Grants for program planning and durable goods are also offered, with preference given to those programs that serve children with high risk factors.

"Numerous research studies consistently demonstrate significant benefits for young people from low socio-economic status families who attend high quality afterschool programs. These benefits include higher standardized test scores, higher self-esteem and confidence, better work habits, lower obesity rates, and fewer behavioral issues. Research suggests that these outcomes are related to the strong relationships young people develop with their afterschool programs mentors, like the ones my children admired. OST programs are tutoring programs, social centers, safe places for children, and everything in between. However structured, they continue to serve as that community I found at my YMCA - where young people find their voices and develop their interests. The OST field, despite often being under-resourced and undervalued, has consistently demonstrated a solid commitment to providing high quality care for our youth. In Massachusetts I have seen this passion and commitment first hand, and I stand by the OST field. I look forward to continuing our work together as we strive to increase access to high quality out of school time care for ALL children."

From her nomination:
Gwen has been a strong advocate for including afterschool advisors in all levels of the development of the Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) in Massachusetts. She has made efforts to integrate discussion of afterschool issues in full advisory discussions and formed separate afterschool advisory panels to focus on specific ASOST standards development.


JuliaBaezJulia K. Baez
Chief Strategy Officer | Family League of Baltimore | Baltimore, Maryland

From her nomination:
Julia has dedicated her life to this work. She started her career as a middle school Spanish teacher, then became the director of a 21st CCLC program, worked for Baltimore City Public Schools at the district office, then began her work at the Family League. She is one of the few that has filled every seat at the out-of-school time stakeholder table: participant, parent, community member, front-line staff, program director, school staff, funder and government official. She's a true champion of this work!


JillianBalowJillian Balow
Superintendent of Public Instruction | Wyoming Department of Education | Cheyenne, Wyoming

"As an elected official, parent and educator, I have always been bothered by the notion that the crux of learning takes place within the walls of a school. Afterschool programs engage families and communities in ways traditional education cannot. It is in afterschool programs that many students find the support and inspiration to pursue interests and build meaningful relationships. These programs also give working parents the security of knowing that their children are in a safe environment among caring adults.

"Wyoming is embracing strategies to provide 21st Century skills to all students, from small rural towns to our largest communities. These high-quality programs with their district, community and business partners play a key role in supporting our efforts to have all Wyoming students college-, career- and military-ready. In a time when we are all looking at personalizing the education experiences for students and offering multiple pathways for learning, the experiences available for our youth in this expanded learning space can have a lifelong impact."

From her nomination:
Jillian has attended WYAA afterschool conferences as a speaker to discuss the value of afterschool and summer learning. She has supported financial funding for afterschool by supporting the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance. She understands the connection and advocates for alignment between the school day and afterschool. She is the first superintendent who makes the effort for inclusion. She has encouraged and supported partnerships with other units in the agency to ensure that afterschool is at the table. She believes in system building.


SuzanneBirdsallStoneSuzanne Birdsall-Stone
State Director, New Hampshire 21st CCLC Program | New Hampshire Department of Education | Concord, New Hampshire

"Afterschool is a place of great potential for fun and learning. I came to the afterschool field passionate about providing youth with the opportunity to learn from the expertise of people in their community, engage in hands-on experiences with new and exciting bodies of knowledge, and connect with their peers in a different setting.

"The reason I have stayed in afterschool is because I know that it levels the playing field, giving youth equal opportunities to engage in experiential and enriching activities that potentially inspire them in different ways than what happens during their school day. To achieve this, it takes many hands—and engaging cohesive groups of afterschool professionals to create fun, relevant and invigorating opportunities for youth is part of how we collectively make this happen in New Hampshire."

From her nomination:
Suzanne's position with 21st CCLC gives her a unique view of how afterschool can be a tremendous asset in the lives of children and their families. She has a wealth of information that she shares with the field. The NHAN Leadership Team looks to her for information, resources and perspective. Suzanne is a strong advocate for the afterschool field and the Network.


KristinBoothKristin Booth
Administrator | New Hampshire DHHS/DCYF/Child Development Bureau | Concord, New Hampshire

"Afterschool programs provide opportunities for children and youth to engage in and try out activities that they might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience, and in a setting that emphasizes the experience, rather than pressure to perform or adhere to certain academic requirements and time constraints. This could be a STEM, arts, outdoor recreational, financial or global literacy, or other activity. Afterschool programs also give children and youth the opportunity to develop social-emotional competence as they grow and change, and to become leaders in a variety of ways. It helps children and youth see that learning is fun and relevant, and that individuals have diverse gifts and abilities. Children who might not excel in an 'academic' setting may find that special skill or talent that sets them apart, bringing them praise, acceptance and belonging among their peers. This bolsters self-esteem, and may even set a child or youth on a career path.

"What drives me to support afterschool programs is the passion that those working with or on behalf of afterschool programs have in making them successful for the children, families and staff involved. In New Hampshire, I have witnessed this from funders, higher education faculty, training and technical assistance providers, advocates, program directors, mayors, business leaders, school principals, state agencies and our governor. I have seen a commitment to professional development and competency of those working directly working with children and youth, to improving program quality, to expanding learning opportunities, to nutrition and physical activities, including hunger awareness, and to bullying prevention, to name a few. Their passion—along with the opportunities that afterschool programs provide children and youth—ignites my passion to support them and the programs they serve."

From her nomination:
Kristin, before her promotion to Administrator, was one of the initial members of the New Hampshire Afterschool Network. She was of tremendous assistance writing the original Mott Grant and was the co-chair of the Network for four years. The Network has had the honor and privilege of being on numerous workgroups and task forces headed by the Child Development Bureau, ensuring afterschool has a strong voice at the table.


SueBurgardSue Burgard
21st CCLC Grant Director | South Dakota Department of Education | Pierre, South Dakota

"The greatest effect of afterschool programs seems to depend upon who is appreciating the experience. In a state in which a high percentage of the parents both work outside the home, parents tell me they are thankful their children are safe and in a structured, stimulating and caring environment. They appreciate that homework help is given in many of the programs, which allows them to have family time when everyone gets home in the evening.

"The regular classroom teachers tell me they like the fact that students can continue the learning process with new adults, new perspectives and different group dynamics. They also mention it is good that the students have more relationships with caring adults in their lives.

"Communities recognize the value of a workforce that feels less stress because their children are safe and well cared for. They can call attention to the attractive learning opportunities offered to the families.

"The kids themselves relish time with their friends and a chance to get homework done. One student commented on a chance to meet some 'real people.' When asked to explain, he said, 'You know, doctors, lawyers, nurses, cooks, et cetera.' Our program directors continue to meet those needs by discovering and designing wonderfully amazing projects that open the world of learning and life to the students they serve.

"Thus, for me, the greatest effect is that afterschool programs are a positive in the lives of almost everyone. How could I not be driven to support afterschool programs, when I am continually surrounded by passionate and dedicated people with a goal of creating meaningful, safe, supportive, dynamic opportunities for South Dakota students and their families? I will quote a young boy on the Rosebud Reservation. When I asked why he enjoyed the afterschool program, he replied, 'It just exercises my brain.'

"So be it!"

From her nomination:
Sue has been a leader in bringing quality afterschool programming to South Dakota. She has partnered with many organizations to work together making afterschool available to the youth of South Dakota. She has been extremely involved in bringing a statewide After School Network to South Dakota by assisting with the initial Mott Foundation grant. She continues to be involved as a member of the leadership team that helps manage the statewide network.


LisaCaruthersLisa Thompson Caruthers
Director | Harris County Department of Education – CASE for Kids | Houston, Texas

"As parents, we all want our children to engage in a variety of afterschool activities. We want them to develop skills, receive academic support and pursue areas of interest. Parents with means have access to a world of tutors, camps and clubs to assist in the development of their children. Families with limited means need the same opportunities. Afterschool programs equalize access to opportunity.

"Even with my own children, I question how much to invest in developing their interests in sports, dance, music, writing or the next thing that catches their attention. As a parent, I fear I might miss a talent that needs to be cultivated. And as a public servant, I fear I might miss the opportunity to create that same pathway for other children.

"Afterschool is my passion. It is a necessary cornerstone, which helps build the solid foundation for our children's future pursuits."

From her nomination:
Ms. Caruthers has consistently worked to engage the entire community to support afterschool programs. Whether that outreach is to nonprofit organizations, corporate sponsors, local institutions of higher education, public school districts, private schools, religious organizations and even apartment complexes, her goal remains the same: Provide young people and their families the tools needed to support their school day learning in the afterschool hours.


SherylDavisSheryl Davis
Vice Chair | San Francisco Human Rights Commission | California

"Afterschool programs provide a space for young people to learn and grow. The programs meet basic needs for families and their children, including healthy meals, support and encouragement. Quality afterschool programs offer a safe space for students when school is out—they offer enrichment, academic support and, very often, access to resources and opportunities that impact a lifetime. I have seen how afterschool programs become like family to students, and staff become advocates for youth. I am compelled to support these programs because they are also a huge help for the school system in developing relationships with caregivers and youth, providing additional support that can transfer success to the school day ad transform community through youth leadership development."

From her nomination:
Sheryl practices a well-respected collective impact approach to engaging youth, community members, organizations, businesses, law enforcement and government officials that is gaining national attention. She works to equip youth and young adults to transform communities through strategies and tools that build bridges and address gaps in education and social capital for urban youth. She is also a strong proponent of developing emerging leaders of color and supported a staff member in becoming a fellow of the CalSAC Leadership Development Institute.


BuddyDyerBuddy Dyer
Mayor| City of Orlando | Orlando, Florida

"Afterschool programs give our city's children safe places to go, help with homework, enriching science and arts experiences, recreational activities and—for many of them—the only meal they will eat before they return to school the next day. I am proud that each day after school, and throughout the summer, about 5,000 children attend our programs at 17 community centers and eight middle schools. We'll continue to support our afterschool programs that provide our youngest residents with opportunities to help them succeed academically and outside of the classroom."

From his nomination:
Mayor Dyer has long been a champion of expanding afterschool opportunities for all young people. In his role as mayor, he has made city-led youth development a key pillar of his administration's leadership and has dedicated significant city funding to support the expansion of programs like After School All Stars. At the national level, he has stood with his peers on many occasions to voice strong support for continued investments in our young people and in the field of afterschool.


JulissaFerrerasJulissa Ferreras
City Council Member | New York City Council | New York, New York

From her nomination:
Last year, when Mayor de Blasio's budget unexpectedly redirected funds previously allocated to summer programs for all of NYC's middle school students served through the SONYC afterschool program to another purpose, providers were put in a difficult position. The timing was such that they had already hired staff for the summer and started enrolling students. Councilwoman Ferreras became a key champion within City Council to get the funding restored back to the SONYC summer programs. She was successful in her efforts and allowed for summer programs for 40,000 NYC students. Councilwoman Ferreras worked with advocates and used her power to ensure the funding was restored. She is a strong champion for afterschool and summer programs.


CarolynGoodmanCarolyn G. Goodman
Mayor| City of Las Vegas | Las Vegas, Nevada

"Our afterschool programs have proven invaluable for giving our young people such positive learning and life-building experiences and support. Youngsters make connections and develop skills not only for themselves but also by bonding with other students and adults through varied academic, athletic, wrap-around and behavioral initiatives."

From her nomination:
Mayor Goodman has attended or spoken at a number of events for different afterschool programs in Las Vegas. She supports Safekey, a before-school and afterschool recreational enrichment program offered at more than 70 Clark County School District elementary schools within the city of Las Vegas. Before she became mayor she helped conceptualize the Meadows School, which now serves almost 900 students.


MichaelHancockMichael B. Hancock
Mayor| City of Denver | Denver, Colorado

"I was fortunate to grow up in Denver, where opportunities at city recreation centers, parks and a good public school system helped shape the person I am today. Because of that, I want all Denver's children to have access to, at a minimum, the same kinds of opportunities that I had. I know from my own experiences and from a wealth of data that high-quality afterschool programs are an effective means of improving student engagement in school, thus improving academic achievement and helping us eliminate the achievement gap.

"The reality is, city government has the greatest opportunity to impact our kids and what they do during those non-school hours, and that makes all the difference in the world. Afterschool and summer programs are helping Denver achieve its goals of becoming a city in which all youth have the opportunity to succeed and thrive. And making the needed investments in quality afterschool programs provide our youth with the support and tools they need to keep their minds and bodies actively engaged when they are not in school are critical to that work."

From his nomination:
The Mayor has used his bully pulpit to advocate for sustainability of the Denver Afterschool Alliance and increase direct funds for afterschool programs. Early on in his administration, he initiated and campaigned for the successful passage of Measure 2A, which restored essential funding lost during the recession for youth programs. Library hours were increased significantly, $500,000 was made available for grants to nonprofits providing high-quality afterschool and summer programs, and the MY Denver program was created, providing free year-round access to all Denver youth to Parks and Recreation Centers and limited free access to 11 cultural venues.


CindyHeislenCindy Heislen
Director of Extended Learning/Afterschool Programs | Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education | Jefferson City, Missouri

"I think the greatest effect of afterschool programs is when children's regular school-day attendance increases. Afterschool programs have such an impact on children's lives, especially those who attend regularly. We see achievement scores improve, their confidence grows, they're motivated to learn, relationships with others improve, homework is completed and they are having fun while learning. It's so rewarding to see the smiles on children's faces, the engagement of teachers, and the enthusiasm the children have in the activities they are doing as we visit programs around our state."

From her nomination:
Cindy Heislen was a founding member of the Missouri AfterSchool Network, ensuring that the department's interest in afterschool goes far beyond just the 21st CCLC grantees. Since becoming the Director of the Extended Learning section, she has made changes to strengthen the 21st CCLC programs and to build an infrastructure that can benefit all Missouri afterschool programs. Cindy has more than 20 years' experience with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, specifically focused on afterschool programs. She has helped the afterschool field in Missouri to grow and adapt with her vision and leadership.


SlyJamesSly James
Mayor| City of Kansas City | Kansas City, Missouri

"Quality afterschool programs provide opportunities for youth to be safe from violence, connected to caring adults, inspired to pursue their passions, and engaged in enriching learning. I will continue to advocate for all children's access to quality afterschool programs."

From his nomination:
Sly James is the Mayor of Kansas City and uses his position to continue to advocate for a strong education system, both in his city and statewide. Mayor James is serving as co-host for the bi-state Kansas and Missouri Mayoral Summit on afterschool and expanded learning, and is committed to leading the state in elevating the afterschool policy conversation and building statewide support for strong systems of afterschool and summer learning. Education is Mayor James' top priority, and he has been responsible for spearheading many new initiatives in his region and expanded on past successes to ensure that all youth have access to high-quality educational and enrichment experiences, from birth to workforce.


RonJorgensenRon Jorgensen
State Representative | Iowa House of Representatives | Sioux City, Iowa

From his nomination:
Rep. Ron Jorgensen is Chair of the House Education Committee and a huge proponent of afterschool. He pushed for a Task Force on Expanded Learning in 2012 and supported legislation in 2013. Although the measure did not pass, he has continued to support out-of-school time as a venue for supporting Iowa's most at-risk children. He has used his position as Chair of the Iowa House of Representatives Education Committee as a bully pulpit to express the need and support for more supports for children in Iowa's K-12 system. He sees out-of-school time as a critical support that is worthy of state investment.


NancyKingNancy J. King
Senator | Maryland State Senate | Annapolis, Maryland

From her nomination:
Sen. King is the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Children, Youth and Families. She also sits on the health, education and human resources subcommittee of the Budget and Taxation Committee. Sen. King has been instrumental in securing favorable legislation regarding funding, licensing and other issues related to child care within Maryland. She understands the needs of working families and how important it is for quality care to be available to those families. Sen. King is one of a handful of Maryland legislators we know we can count on to be our advocate. She also makes herself available to child care professionals at conferences and meetings, to explain what is going on in the state capitol and to listen to our concerns.


DennisKruseDennis Kruse
State Senator | Indiana State Senate | Indianapolis, Indiana

"I think the greatest effect of afterschool programs is that they provide a space to meet students' unique needs. I am a huge advocate of these programs because they provide an alternative setting for students to develop academically, socially and creatively, helping them improve in and out of the classroom. It's important that before-school and afterschool programs maintain their presence in schools, and I will continue to support them in Indiana and across the nation."

From his nomination:
Sen. Kruse authored the first afterschool funding bill in many years for the state of Indiana. He includes "afterschool" in his top ten education priorities and has used his position to be a key champion over the past three years. Indiana has limited state funding targeted to afterschool. More than 220,000 K-12 youth go home alone unsupervised each day. Sen. Kruse is using his influential position and reputation to champion increased afterschool investment, despite a highly fiscally conservative legislature.


RichardLowerRichard Lower
Director of Pre-School and Out-of-School Time Learning | Michigan Department of Education | Lansing, Michigan

"In today's culture, within the traditional K-12 school day, children and youth often have a routinized and linear path prescribed to them for their learning. Quality afterschool programs offer these children and youth opportunities for applied learning and exploration of their individual interests. When there is an intentional and supported bridge between school day and afterschool environments, the children and youth—especially those from more adverse contexts—benefit the most, both academically and socially. The research base continues to grow and demonstrates that quality afterschool programming has an important role to play in improving proficiency in reading and math, specifically, as well as other important indicators of school success such as attendance and homework completion. Moreover, other aspects of growth and development, such as behavioral and social-emotional regulation, and health and nutrition, are also impacts by quality afterschool programs. The whole-child/youth approach to school and life success is a core foundational principal in quality afterschool programming and why there should be continued support of these programs."

From his nomination:
Richard Lower has leveraged community-based organizations, ISDs and universities in Michigan to be involved in afterschool. He has committed state funds that could have gone elsewhere to support afterschool. He has allowed his staff to be significantly involved and supportive of afterschool across the state and has helped to make Michigan a leader in OST learning. As Director of the Office of Great Start in Michigan, he has many responsibilities but has chosen to make OST a priority. Mr. Lower represents a strong voice and passion within the Michigan Department of Education and the state, advocating to make OST learning mainstream so that every student in the state has access. Mr. Lower has a strong understanding of how OST learning affects the lives of families and young people. He realizes the value of how OST learning contributes to the growth of students socially, emotionally and educationally. He has been involved nationally, statewide and locally in raising funds and increasing awareness about the value of afterschool opportunities for youth. In addition, he has attended state and national conferences related to OST to raise his own awareness, so he could be more knowledgeable and supportive. He has been a strong supporter of NAA, Afterschool Alliance, Michigan After School Partnership and the Michigan AfterSchool Association.


DonnaLupardoDonna Lupardo
Assemblywoman| New York State Assembly | Binghamton, New York

"Afterschool programs provide students with an opportunity to explore other interests and expand on their classroom studies. By providing the assistance children may not otherwise receive, afterschool programs lead to higher graduation rates and safer behaviors. Investments in these programs help children grow up to be healthier and more successful adults."

From her nomination:
Assemblywoman Lupardo has been a strong champion for childcare, pre-K, afterschool and summer programs, and has advocated for additional funds to support these programs. She has also championed legislation to support these programs, and has used her position to influence the agenda of the Women's Caucus to focus specifically on childcare and afterschool. She is an eager and willing partner with afterschool advocates across the state.


SusanMartzSusan Martz
Assistant Commissioner of Education | New Jersey Department of Education Division of Learning Supports and Specialized Services | Trenton, New Jersey

"Studies show that quality afterschool programs have an enduring effect on student achievement, increased attendance, improved work habits and behavior. Less tangible, but most important in my eyes, is the capacity of afterschool programs to instill in our children and youth a love for learning; promote positive connections with peers and adults in their community and nurture the development of self-discovery, self-awareness, self-esteem and self-confidence.

"The motivation behind my advocacy for afterschool programs is the incredible potential they have to positively impact the lives of our youth and their families. Quality afterschool programs expand opportunities and equalize access for youth to participate in and explore a broad array of experiences including visual and performing arts, STEM, careers, community service, sports and nutrition.

"Afterschool programs are the perfect venue to compliment school-day learning by providing time for youth to practice, reflect, explore and experiment. In these safe, supportive and youth-centered places, youth can tinker, design and create; be expressive and curious; have fun; reenergize and flourish. The informal welcoming environments engage parents and give them the security of knowing that their children are safe and involved in stimulating activities after school.

"The key driver for my continued support of afterschool programs is the unlimited possibilities for their lasting impact on the lives of our youth."

From her nomination:
Susan has broken the silos. She has provided a climate where afterschool is viewed as a place in the continuum of learning and support for a child. Her office funds the Afterschool Network, the NJ Quality Standards for Afterschool, the NJ Annual Statewide Afterschool Conference and more. Susan never loses sight of the prize: afterschool as a way to grow resilient young adults in tandem with their public school education.


KevinMcCartyKevin McCarty
Assemblymember | California State Legislature | Sacramento, California

"Afterschool programs provide kids with a positive learning environment to improve academic success and interact with their peers. These essential programs help address the achievement gap and keep kids out of trouble."

From his nomination:
Assemblymember Kevin McCarty spoke out in strong support of afterschool advocates seeking increased funding for afterschool at a rally in Sacramento during the CA Afterschool & Summer Challenge in May 2015. He was a key voice in helping to ensure increased funding was included in the state budget. Although the governor didn't support the increase, we would not have gained the traction and support across the legislature without McCarty's vocal leadership.


MikeMrowickiMike Mrowicki
State Representative | Vermont State Legislature | Putney, Vermont

"Afterschool programs can help students who haven't yet achieved a level of accomplishment find what they're good at—they can also help students who are already accomplished find a greater level of challenge and, most important, provide a social milieu for students to work on social skills and learn to use what they've learned individually and contribute it to a group.

"As someone who ran an afterschool site for 12 years, I know support for these services inspires students to better attendance, greater accomplishment in diverse ways, and more understanding and accomplishment in socio-emotional competencies."

From his nomination:
Mike is the former Executive Director of Putney Family Services and in that role was actively involved in overseeing the OASIS afterschool program, a 21st CCLC funded and licensed afterschool and summer program. Mike "gets it"—he knows the important role that afterschool and summer programs play in the lives of children, youth and family, and he understands the challenges and rewards involved in being on the front line running a program and working with the kids. He has also been an amazing champion, helping the field in Vermont find our voice and grow our advocacy efforts.


JohnOgradyJohn O'Grady
President of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners | Franklin County Board of Commissioners | Columbus, Ohio

From his nomination:
Commissioner O'Grady is committed to helping children and youth transition successfully into adulthood. Franklin County Job and Family Services awards hundreds of thousands of dollars each spring to support high-quality child and youth development programs during the summer. These programs help students to safe, reduce summer learning loss, and develop new interests and skills. The commissioner stands out for his significant investment of funds in summer programs, thoughtful RFP process and careful oversight of programs and funds.


Pennsylvania State Legislative Caucus

JohnYudichakSen. John Yudichak
Co-Chair | Pennsylvania State Legislature | Harrisburg, Pennsylvania




RyanAumentSen. Ryan Aument
Co-Chair | Pennsylvania State Legislature | Harrisburg, Pennsylvania




MindyFeeRep. Mindy Fee
Pennsylvania State Legislature | Harrisburg, Pennsylvania




JakeWheatleyRep. Jake Wheatley
Pennsylvania State Legislature | Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

"Quality afterschool programs improve academic performance, increase school attendance rates, and empower our children by connecting schools and families to a more collaborative, comprehensive educational experience.

"Every school district and every state should be exploring ways to make afterschool programming part of a new 21st-century public school model in America."
—State Sen. John Yudichak.

From the nomination:
Sen. John Yudichak (D-14) co-chairs a bicameral bipartisan Afterschool Caucus comprising himself and leaders Sen. Ryan Aument (R-36), Rep. Mindy Fee (R-37) and Rep. Jake Wheatley (D-39). These Pennsylvania state legislators have joined together to lead a bicameral, bipartisan caucus to provide education, policy development, research and periodic briefings to Pennsylvania state legislators on pertinent issues confronting and relating to the commonwealth's afterschool infrastructure. The co-chairs' leadership in inaugurating this first ever Pennsylvania State Legislative Caucus to support accessible, quality afterschool for the to benefit the Commonwealth's children and families stands out.


RenePlasenciaRene "Coach P" Plasencia
Representative | Florida House of Representatives | Tallahassee, Florida

"Afterschool programs provide parents who work with a place their kids can be safe and have a positive and enriching experience. Personally, I learned so much from many of the coaches and mentors I had at the YMCA. The impact that afterschool programs have on the lives of young people is immeasurable."

From his nomination:
Coach P supports the afterschool programs in the state of Florida and recently was keynote presenter at the Lights On Afterschool event in Orange County. He is a true advocate for children and families. He was a teacher for 14 years before running for public office. He is in touch with the kids of his district and supports them in any way he is able.


BetsyPriceBetsy Price
Mayor| City of Forth Worth | Fort Worth, Texas

"With children spending over 80% of their time out of school, afterschool programs serve to fill in the gaps, extending learning opportunities well beyond the classroom walls. Communities benefit when their students have greater opportunities to succeed in and out of the classroom. And as a mayor, I see an opportunity to encourage others to support and develop strong afterschool programs."

From her nomination:
Mayor Price has been a vocal proponent of Fort Worth After School. FWAS is a collaborative effort of Fort Worth ISD and the City of Fort Worth. Each of the entities provides funding and support to the 84 afterschool sites in our fair city. Each day, 9000+ students participate in high-level afterschool enrichment programs. Mayor Price chaired Fort Worth SPARC (Strengthen after-school Programs through Advocacy, Resources and Collaboration) as well as the Crime Control Prevention District (CCPD) from which Fort Worth's share for FWAS is derived.


AgnesQuinonesAgnes Quiñones, Ed.D.
Education Consultant | Connecticut State Department of Education | Middletown, Connecticut

"Growing up, I was very fortunate to have my grandparents play a key role in my life. Every day, I could count on one or both of them picking me up after school. Grandma or Grandpa took me to dance, violin lessons and swimming classes every day after school. They also helped out my friends' parents by giving some of my friends a ride. Neighbors all pitched in and would take care of each other's children. My neighborhood could have been considered an 'afterschool program in the making.' A day would not go by when some of my friends ate snacks and dinner at home. Many times, my grandma would send food to neighbors. We had reading time, poetry time and playtime every week. I remember learning my multiplication tables and doing homework with my friends. Two of my aunts were still living at home at the time, so they were our afterschool teachers. In this important time in our young lives, we had adults always present in our lives watching over us, mentoring, teaching and playing with us. In this important time in our young lives, I felt safe, happy. I had a strong feeling of belonging in my neighborhood, much like an extended family. As I reflect back, everything I lived and experienced after school shaped my values, my integrity and helped understand how vital it is that children have what I had growing up.

"Afterschool programs are the safety net for children and families. They are the neighborhood, the community. My friends and I graduated from high school, went to college and became successful adults. Afterschool programs solidified our dreams and ideals about our future.

"As a Latina and as a professional educator, I value afterschool programs. I have visited many programs throughout Connecticut, and time and time again I see the same happy faces, excited faces, inquisitive faces, quiet faces, learning faces of children and youth. I have spoken with parents, who tell me that the programs are a 'lifesaver' for their children, for them. Teachers and staff working in the programs shared their experiences and appreciation for the opportunity to be part of afterschool.

"Every day I think of my late grandma, of my neighborhood, of what I learned after school. The question is, do you support after school? I know I do!"

From her nomination:
Dr. Quiñones is that rare combination of thought leader and detail-oriented implementer. She's the person we go to when we want to make something happen. Her colleagues regard her as a smart, capable leader, and they value her expertise. She is one of those who takes a good idea and makes it great, yet she knows how to collaborate and make all the partners feel appreciated. Her commitment to the community goes beyond her role in the workplace.


ReneeRiderRenee Rider
Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Student Support Services | New York State Education Department | Albany, New York

"As the research shows, high-quality afterschool programs lead to improved outcomes for students, such as improved test scores; higher course passing rates; increased attendance leading to greater student engagement; decrease in high school drop-out rates; improved social, emotional and physical well-being; and reduction in health compromising behaviors, among others. The greatest effect of afterschool programs is the world of opportunities that students are provided, such as cultural, recreational and academic opportunities that help develop our young people to lead healthy lives, be successful in school, be good citizens in communities and become productive adults who contribute to society. Throughout my career I have witnessed positive outcomes for kids who had an opportunity to participate in high-quality afterschool programs; all of these reasons are what drives me to support afterschool programs and expanded learning opportunities. After all, our youth of today are our leaders of tomorrow!"

From her nomination:
Renee has a strong background with afterschool programs, and uses her position to ensure that grants are administered effectively and efficiently for high-quality programs across the state. When the governor added additional funding for struggling schools to convert to community schools and incorporate expanded learning time or afterschool last year, Renee teamed up with the Office of Accountability to make sure that the program was rolled out in such a way that it worked for districts and could best support high-quality programs. She used her position to bring in statewide experts and partners to involve their feedback in the development process. This is just one example of her work. Renee is also a strong advocate for afterschool programs and serves as a key partner on ASW:NYSAN's Advisory Council. Renee has been a long-time champion for afterschool programs. Previously, she served as an Assistant Commissioner at the New York State Office of Children and Family Services and administered the Advantage After School Program. Throughout her career, she has worked hard to ensure that the state supports high-quality programs for students. She knows the ins and outs of the programs, and how to make effective updates as needed.


DaveSakrisonDavid Sakrison
Mayor | City of Moab | Moab, Utah

"We live in a tourist-based economy here in Moab. Most of the jobs are service-based, which equates to low pay and odd hours in order to accommodate the tourist industry. What this means to those families is that there are times when the kids go home to an empty house. The Beacon Program offers a safe alternative by offering educational and fun activities for those kids and families after school. Education is a fundamental building block to any community, and we believe that our children are an integral part of our future. The City of Moab continues to be an active participant in working to provide the best opportunities for our children. This is why we support and encourage afterschool programs for our children."

From his nomination:
Mayor Dave is a colorful and charming personality in Moab, and his strong support of BEACON as well as the other nonprofits that serve families in this community has truly made a difference. He understands that the hundreds of families who have low or marginal incomes are actually the backbone of this tourist town, and they are well-deserving of all the support that the nonprofit community can offer to improve and enhance their lives.


TomTorlaksonTom Torlakson
California State Superintendent of Public Instruction | California Department of Education | Sacramento, California

From his nomination:
Torlakson's journey has led him from the classrooms of Contra Costa County's Mount Diablo Unified School District (where he remains a teacher-on-leave), to the Antioch City Council, Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, and the California State Senate and State Assembly. He promoted the idea of meeting the needs of the whole child by expanding pre-kindergarten and afterschool and summer programs, increasing access to health care and mental health services, and promoting nutritious food and regular exercise. During his tenure in the California State Legislature, Torlakson acted to protect education funding, improve student nutrition and physical education, and ensure school safety. State Superintendent of Public Instruction is the "father" of afterschool in California. In 1998, Torlakson authored legislation leading to the development of the largest system of after-school programs in the nation. In 2006, he authored the bill that led to a 300 percent expansion in these programs—so they now reach 4,000 schools around the state.


BarbaraSmithWarnerBarbara Smith Warner
Representative | Oregon State Legislature | Salem, Oregon

"I believe in summer and afterschool learning because they give kids the chance to have that 'aha moment' through a whole different range of experiences. We know that families with higher incomes have fewer barriers to enriching activities for their children. Whether it's learning chemistry through art, or math through music, or just having a breakthrough with reading from some one-on-one time, all kids should have access to out-of-school time programs that can provide that spark to ignite a passion for learning that can last a lifetime."

From her nomination:
Barbara Smith Warner is a Democratic politician. She serves in the Oregon House of Representatives representing District 45, which includes northeastern Portland, Maywood Park and Parkrose. She serves on the House Revenue Committee, House Rules Committee, and the Education subcommittee of Ways and Means. Barbara's extensive volunteer work in her two children's local public schools is what inspired her to seek office. She is passionate about the issues that affect the families of House District 45 and all of Oregon—access to quality education, health care for all, good living-wage jobs, a diverse and efficient transportation system, and safe communities. Rep. Smith-Warner has submitted legislation to create a workgroup on Summer Learning. This workgroup will frame the issues about summer learning in Oregon and prepare a report for the 2017 legislature. Rep. Smith Warner "gets it" that children and youth need opportunities for hands on project based expanded learning opportunities. She sees the potential win for everyone by funding summer programs in low-income areas across Oregon. She is committed to equal opportunities for all children.


RoyceWestRoyce West
Senator | Texas Senate | Dallas, Texas

From his nomination:
Sen. West is Vice Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee and is a member of Senate committees on Administration, Education and Finance. His legislation includes increased funding for at-risk youth programs and establishment of new standards for child care. During his tenure, Sen. West has been named by Texas Monthly as one of the 25 most powerful people in Texas politics, has been selected for the magazine's biennial Ten Best Legislators in Texas list, and has twice been named as an Honorable Mention. Sen. West has also received mention on the Associated Press' Movers and Shakers list, and Texas Insider named Sen. West to its 2009 Best Legislators list.


WilliamWildWilliam R. Wild
Mayor | City of Westland | Westland, Michigan

"Afterschool programs are an important part of a child's life. Research has shown that regular participation in high-quality afterschool programs is linked to significant gains in standardized test scores and work habits as well as reductions in behavior problems among disadvantaged students. They are also part of offering a high quality of life for our residents in Westland. We are proud of all those who support our children, including the Eastern Michigan Bright Futures After School Programs."

From his nomination:
Mayor Wild has a genuine compassion for the residents of Westland. He recognizes the need for after school programs to provide a safe place for students beyond the school day. Mayor Wild shows up when he is called upon and he calls on the EMU Bright Futures After School Programs when he has opportunities for students to be engaged in local government.


CherieWoodCherie Wood
Mayor | City of South Salt Lake | South Salt Lake, Utah

"Promise South Salt Lake (SSL) has a citywide system of afterschool, meaning that we offer aligned daily schedules during the afterschool hours in 10 neighborhood centers across the seven square miles that make up our city. Daily activities include homework help/tutoring, dinner, recreation/sports, break dancing, boxing, clubs, STEM, model prevention curriculums and much more. The greatest impact of our afterschool programs is the meaningful relationships that our community's youth have developed with their group leaders, college-age mentors, nonprofit partners and community leaders. These relationships are resiliency builders that serve to support our community's children and youth as they work through myriad risk factors that range from double to triple the state average for our four SSL priority risk factors: academic risk, struggling families, neighborhood attachment and gang involvement. Since launching the afterschool programs in 2007 and adopting a citywide system in 2011, we have seen dramatic drops in the priority risk factors, including risk of gang involvement among eighth-graders, which was 25.6% in 2007 and 7.2% in 2015 (source: Utah State Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health SHARP data). South Salt Lake's youth crime rate between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m. has decreased 64% from 2007 to 2015 (source: SSL Police Department). We have also seen dramatic increases in the number of youth on track for high school graduation. Youth slated to graduate have increased 50% since 2012, and at some of our neighborhood centers that serve refugee youth, the rate for high school graduation and college matriculation is 100%, compared with refugee students in the same school district, who graduate at a rate of 61%.

"I support our afterschool programs in South Salt Lake because I believe they are the heart of tremendous innovation, success and momentum that have driven our community toward success since I became mayor six years ago. We live by a motto in our afterschool programs: 'What I want for myself and my family, I want for every person in our community.' I believe this inspires me, helps me to find the common ground with my community's families, children and youth, and drives me to seek new partners, funds and collaborators!"

From her nomination:
Mayor Wood envisioned a citywide system of afterschool, where all of South Salt Lake's children and young people could thrive in a nurturing, intellectually stimulating, safe environments. She mobilizes every building, resource and person available to make the vision become a reality. Mayor Wood takes every opportunity to champion afterschool. She knows every statistic and detail of the programs and how they work.