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Professional Development

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In the Words of a Next Gen: Where Do I Go From Here?

The recent Celebration of Leadership Reception at the 2019 National AfterSchool Association's Annual Convention in New York City brought together and lifted up those who have made significant contributions to the field of afterschool.

Kevin Gilmore, Director of LAUNCH High School and member of the 2017 class of NAA's Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders, shared his thoughts on his leadership journey, the difference afterschool professionals made in his life, and a message for the new class of Next Gen Leaders.

The Next Gen Afterschool Leader: Where do I go from here?

I will have to be honest and say I had to first understand where I came from to grasp where I am going—understanding that I am made for this work and called to it. I am a product of afterschool programming and the passion that lived in those who cared enough to do it.

Leaders just like you saw something special in me and poured into me. They made me feel seen, significant and worth it. It was in those settings that I knew that one day I would do the same. I just wish someone would have told me early one that this could be my future career.

So where do I go from here?

I go forward ... by building my career in the work of after school professionals!
I go on ... toward a call that was once just a dream but now a reality!
I go with ... those who also believe in and passionate for the support and care and growth of young people!
I go in ... knowing that I too can influence that young person who could one day give back!
I go above and beyond ... to grow as a leader and professional striving to be the best!

I go toward a dream (a call) that became a reality; to be the leader that someone I needed as a child. Remembering the afterschool leaders who thought enough of me to take time to pour into me. Those few hours a day a couple of times a week are part of what made me the man I am today.

From here, I go on and will always be an afterschool professional building in this career. As a Next Generation Leader in this field, I see the profession building with our reach. Where we are operating in schools, organizations, government, community groups, businesses and so much more through our leadership. I can see us building a better today and healthier tomorrow, with a wingspan to cover the nation.

I would like to encourage each of our Next Gen Leaders to continue their great and needed work—to know they are the leaders of today building leaders for tomorrow; to ask more questions and build new and innovative ways to serve our youth and families. Continue to build on personal and professional development. Write out your dreams and hopes, and then put action to your legacies. Never stop growing and never stop showing that we Next Gens are here to stay!

Learn more about the 2019 class of Next Generation in Afterschool Leaders.

Courtesy of NAA.