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2015-16 WRP Policy Fellows Bios

To return to Policy Fellows 2015-16, click here.

Thomas Azzarella is the Director of Alaska Afterschool Network. He has over 15 years of managerial experience in afterschool and summer programs, including inner city youth programs in Buffalo, New York and rural, remote programs in Alaska. He is an expert trainer on best practices in youth program quality and social emotional learning. As a 2010 Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America Ambassador, he honed his coalition leadership skills and developed a family engagement campaign implemented throughout the Anchorage School District. He has extensive experience working with community collaborations to increase youth protective factors throughout Alaska. He is a passionate out-of-school time advocate, especially for underserved and marginalized children and teens. During his free time he enjoys exploring Alaska by hiking, camping, hunting, paddling, and skiing. He is currently renovating a house and spends a lot of time hanging out with his pet chicken named Joan Rivers. 

David Scott Beard is the Education Policy and Advocacy Director at School’s Out Washington. He engages with advocates, families, providers, educational stakeholders, and policymakers to develop strategies to improve the quality of and access to afterschool, summer, and expanded learning programs in Washington State. Previously, he was the Education Policy Director at Advocates for Children and Youth in Maryland working on PreK-12 issues including school operating and capital funding, effective student discipline, and school-based mental health among other issues. Mr. Beard also worked as the Senior Associate for state and federal policy with Pre-K Now, a campaign of the Pew Center on the States and as the Director for Policy and Practice at the Washington State Council for Children and Families. David received his Master of Science degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Washington in Seattle.

Melissa Beck is the new Network Lead serving the Colorado Afterschool Partnership (CAP). Hailing from a service-directed professional field, Melissa works in administering a federal grant serving youth in workforce education and development, providing ADA accommodations and training for students in higher education, directing group homes for adults with developmental disabilities, and playing hard/working hard as a recreational therapist at Tennyson Center for Children. Melissa is a trainer, educator, facilitator, and motivator – helping individuals, groups, and communities to connect strengths, talents, and resources for the greater good. Particularly with The Civic Canopy and CAP, she will be working with many to enhance afterschool programming in Colorado through advancement in policy and advocacy. Melissa enjoys getting outside as much as possible – to run freely in the wind, smelling the pines of the trails, and rejuvenating for a greater impact to change the world!

Susan Gamble is the Network Lead for the West Virginia Statewide Afterschool Network (WVSAN). Prior to joining the WVSAN Susan worked ten years for Energy Express, a statewide summer reading and nutrition AmeriCorps program serving children in rural and low-income communities across West Virginia. At Energy Express Susan was the Community Strengthening Coordinator and served twice as interim director. She has also worked as a 4-H youth development agent for the West Virginia University Extension Service. Susan has a Master’s degree in Social Work and Public Administration and a Doctorate in Higher Education Administration. 

Ebony Grace joined NJSACC: The Statewide Network for New Jersey’s (NJ) Afterschool Communities in March of 2014 as the Director of Expanded Learning Opportunities. Among her responsibilities are coordinating a data collection and evaluation pilot in partnership with a large urban school district to evaluate their out-of-school time (OST) programming; coordinating the Afterschool Ambassador program and providing professional development and technical assistance to childcare agencies and providers. Additionally in partnership with the City of Newark, she coordinated the “Strong Youth, Strong Cities: Building Municipal Systems to Invest Beyond the Classroom” Mayoral Summit focusing on the importance of OST and its impact on the success of NJ’s youth and their communities. For nearly ten years prior to joining NJSACC, Ebony worked for the NJ Department of Education and was responsible for providing programmatic oversight and technical assistance for 21st Century Community Learning Centers and Even Start Family Literacy program grants. Through this work, Ebony also helped to implement quality OST programs. Throughout her career, she has also worked in higher education in Pennsylvania and NJ assisting first-generation students with college and career counseling, advisement, and programming in their goals to graduate high school and obtain post-secondary education. Ebony also possesses a Master’s degree in Family Therapy and has spent many years as a practicing family therapist providing therapeutic services to individuals, families, couples, and adolescents.

Darren Grimshaw is a 28-year law enforcement veteran currently serving as a Major with the Burlington, Iowa Police Department. Darren began his career as a patrolman but soon found that his law enforcement passion was in Criminal Investigations. After spending almost 15 years as a detective investigating homicides, robberies, sexual assaults, burglaries, and narcotics, Darren was promoted to positions within the department that took his efforts to Community Policing. For the last six years, Darren has been directly involved with strengthening the department’s community relations with programs such as Neighborhood Watch, Citizens Academy, Law Enforcement Explorers, Crime Stoppers, Police Reserve Units, and the School Resource Officer Program. Last year, the Burlington Police Department created a partnership with the PIECES afterschool program and the Burlington Community Schools. Darren is currently serving as Chairman of the PIECES Advisory Committee and was most recently appointed to the Iowa Afterschool Alliance Board. Darren has a degree in Criminal Justice and is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

Kathryn Johnson is the Executive Director of Alternatives, a nationally-recognized youth development nonprofit in Virginia. At Alternatives, where Kathryn is the project director of a middle school 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) program. She is a frequent trainer for the Virginia Department of Education and serves on their 21st CCLC peer review team. As a member of the Leadership Council for the Virginia Partnership for Out of School Time she serves as the chair of the Quality Committee. In 2013 Kathy was recognized by the National Afterschool Alliance as Virginia’s Champion for Quality Afterschool.

Don Kent is a principal at eCablevision, a boutique consulting organization that focuses on technology-oriented and Internet-based startups.  Previously, he spent 12 years in NYC working in venture capital before departing to go solo and help companies conduct workouts and maximize their value via exit strategies. During his business tenure, Don has served as a chief executive officer, chief operating officer, chief marketing officer, and a chief financial officer.    Don serves as chairman of the Indiana Afterschool Network, the organization that champions afterschool and summer learning in Indiana. He is also the chairman of Net Literacy, a digital literacy nonprofit that has been honored by two American Presidents and whose programs were recognized by the FCC in the National Broadband Plan presented to Congress. Kent’s B.S. is from the United States Air Force Academy and M.B.A is from the University of Utah.

Lani Lingo has dedicated her professional career to helping the children and families of Florida be more successful. Currently she serves as State Director of Education and Specialized Programs with the Florida Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs and works with programs throughout the state to ensure that high-quality services are provided to participating students. Prior to her current position, Ms. Lingo served as the Director of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) Program within the Florida Department of Education’s Bureau of Family and Community Outreach. During her tenure as state administrator of Florida’s nationally recognized 21st CCLC program, Ms. Lingo championed the inclusion of the STEM initiatives and included the Arts so it could be called STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math). Additionally, she promoted initiatives to serve students with disabilities, the integration of core academic subject learning in afterschool, and the effective use of project-based learning and college and career preparation in afterschool programming.

Alison Reis-Khanna is the Director of Partnerships and Quality Initiatives at the Texas Partnership for Out-of-School Time (TXPOST). In this role, she directs partnership development and quality initiatives, including the recent publication of the Texas Standards for High Quality Afterschool, Summer, and Expanded Learning Programs. Alison has worked with numerous youth development organizations, including the Department of Human Services-funded Out-of-School Time system in Philadelphia, the World Affairs Council, and Envision EMI. Additionally, she has volunteered with community-based organizations focused on youth in Ghana and Grenada, and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in South Africa at the beginning of her career. Alison completed her undergraduate degree at Denison University, holds a Master’s degree from Brandeis University, and was a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellow at Ohio University.

Tammy Shay joined the Maryland Out-of-School Time (MOST) Network as Program Coordinator in 2013 with seven years of out-of-school time and experience implementing 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) grants as well as other local, regional, and national grants in Queen Anne’s County, Maryland. Prior to working in the field of youth development, Ms. Shay’s sales, marketing, and advertising career was in corporate communications with Discovery Networks in Affiliate Sales and Relations, and at Ameritech New Media as Director of Advertising Sales. Prior to her local and statewide career in youth development, Tammy was an independent contract consultant. She earned a B.S. in Mass Communications with an emphasis in Political Science from Towson University. Tammy is the first college graduate in her immediate family and her college education was self-funded through loans and work with temporary agencies.

Erik Skold has been deeply involved in bringing learning experiences for children and youth beyond the classroom for the past 12 years. This set the stage for his current role as Associate Director of Sprockets, Saint Paul's Out-of-School Time Network. In this role, he works with schools, city governments, parks, libraries, and many community-based organizations to develop and promote quality programming that supports young people as they strive to recognize and achieve their greatest potential. Erik holds a Master’s degree in youth development leadership from the University of Minnesota, and is also the co-chairperson of Ignite Afterschool's Policy Committee. A Wisconsin native, Erik frequently crosses the border back to his home state to introduce his three young children to the wonders of the great outdoors.

Bethany Thramer has an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education, spending time working in a community child care center before she moved on to complete her Bachelor's in Social Work. As a social work student, Bethany took great interest in policy and community development while simultaneously building a keen awareness of social justice issues. In 2012, Bethany started with OregonASK as an AmeriCorps VISTA, working on financial sustainability with federally-funded afterschool programs and local community leadership groups. In 2014, she became the lead coordinator for the Oregon Girls Collaborative Project which focuses on the STEM field and building conversations around girls and underrepresented populations. This role allows her to facilitate the development and deepening of partnerships across the state as OregonASK continues to build awareness and support for expanded learning opportunities.

Craig Williams is a founding member of the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance and was the board chair for the first seven years of the organization’s history. During this time, Craig worked with the network lead and board of directors to make the WyAA the premier afterschool organization in Wyoming for policy, professional development, and quality. Craig is a 23-year education veteran and has been named the Laramie County School District #2 Teacher of the Year, NEA Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence Awardee for Wyoming, and the Arch Coal Golden Apple Award winner. Through his work with the Wyoming Education Association, Craig has advocated and developed educational policy at the state and national levels. Craig is also a NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellow and an America Achieves Fellowship for Teachers and Principals member. Craig currently teaches 4th grade in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

 Mila Yochum is the Director of Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time (APOST), an initiative of United Way of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. As Director, Mila is responsible for ensuring youth in Allegheny County have access to quality afterschool and out-of-school time opportunities. Mila has over ten years of experience managing national programs with the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council, Strong Women, Strong Girls, and Higher Achievement. She has facilitated workshops on planning, data, delivering quality programs, gender specific programming, positive youth development, and mentoring at non-profits and organizations such as: PA Conference for Women, Girls Coalition for Women and Girls, Literacy AmeriCorps National Retreat, DML Conference, and others. As a first generation child born in the United States, Mila grew-up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management. She enjoys spending time with her husband hiking across America’s national parks as well as caring for and playing with her 19 nieces and nephews.

To return to Policy Fellows 2015-16, click here.