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Check out the latest news about NAA and special announcements pertinent to the field of afterschool.

Heidi Ham Joins NAA Staff

Heidi Ham recently joined NAA as Vice President of Programs and Strategy. She will work closely with NAA Executive Director Gina Warner to lead the execution and development of NAA strategy to advance current work and to create and support new opportunities specifically focused on quality improvement, advancing professionalism, and strengthening state and local alliances. Get to know NAA's newest team member!

Heidi has more than twenty years of experience in the field, starting in afterschool before knowing that afterschool could provide a fulfilling career. Following her family legacy, she had full intention of being a K-12 teacher, earning her certification and then working in the school system, teaching and leading afterschool activities and also as an afterschool tutor and summer school resident advisor for at-risk high school students in a rural community in eastern Washington state.

In 1996, Heidi decided that afterschool allowed her to teach in a way that matched her educational philosophy and accepted a position with Champions as a site director and later as a multisite manager of twelve before- and after-school programs in Portland, Oregon. Since then, Heidi has served in various roles with the Knowledge Universe (KU) Education Department. At KU, she worked passionately with sites across the nation, building relationships and providing a vision for quality that included facilitating training for a variety of program types including science and academic intervention, coaching for continuous improvement, and developing tools and resources. Recently, as senior quality advisor, she led a team in designing a national system-wide quality framework that encompassed a process for continuous improvement and quality observation tools to drive quality at program level and professional development for the staff, a project that was transformational for the organization. Heidi is a Council on Accreditation endorser, a Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality Work Methods and Program Management Series trainer, and a National Association for the Education of Young Children  (NAEYC) conference proposal reviewer. Heidi holds a bachelor of arts in social science and education from Central Washington University. She currently lives in the D.C. metro area with her husband, who also works in the afterschool field.

What excites you most about your new job?

I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with so many great people in order to make a broad positive impact in the lives of children and youth, and the professionals who have chosen this awesome work. I'm really looking forward to learning more about the work of our state affiliates, what folks are doing at a local level, and then using that knowledge to creatively and strategically build connections that will positively impact quality, professionalism, and relationships nationally.

You've been a frequent attendee and speaker at NAA conventions. Now that you're on the planning side, what do you want attendees to know?

It's incredible how much intentional thought and consideration goes into planning an engaging and innovative experience in order to provide personalized learning for our attendees ... from workshop and general sessions, opportunities to network, and unique ways for showcasing the latest and greatest products—the 2015 Convention & Learning Expo is shaping up to be one of the best yet!

If you could give advice to someone new to the afterschool field, what would it be?

The first thing I'd say is, "Thank you—-you've chosen a noble and challenging profession!" For advice: Set high, but realistic expectations and maintain a growth mindset. Start by building relationships, of course with the young people, but also reach out to become a part of a professional network for support and learning. Things won't ever go perfectly; it is a person's ability to reflect, learn, and modify with determination that helps with success!