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2018-19 WRP Policy Fellows Bios

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Neal Barbour
Director of Youth Education
Lawrence Arts Center
Lawrence, Kansas

Originally from Spokane, Washington, with a BA in Writing and Video Production from Western Washington University, Neal Barbour has a wide range of experience in the visual arts and education. He has worked in a variety of locations and settings including Chile, Germany, and across the West Coast of the United States. After ten years of itinerant artistry, Neal moved to Portland, OR to obtain a Master’s in Education with concentrations in Art and English from Portland University. He taught public High and Middle School in Portland before moving to Lawrence, Kansas in 2011. Neal was a member of the fine arts faculty in Topeka, Kansas, where he taught Jewelry, Ceramics, Painting, Drawing, Graphic Design, and Sculpture for four years before joining the Lawrence Arts Center’s education team as the lead teacher, curriculum specialist and all around arts education guru. Since then he has become the Director of Youth Education at the Lawrence Arts Center, creating and facilitating programs that have been recognized by the President’s Council on Arts and Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Hearst Foundation, State Farm Youth Advisory Board, and others. At the core of all this programming is the belief that education can be student-centered, fun, and encourage life-long learning.

Graycen Colbert Bigger
Communications Coordinator
The Arkansas Out of School Network
Little Rock, Arkansas

Graycen Colbert Bigger is a social entrepreneur with a passion for rural development, education and the arts. She believes in the unique power of afterschool and summer learning in the development of 21st century workforce skills and is passionate about utilizing OST programs to close the achievement gap of today’s academic landscape. Graycen has worked in the education sector as a program director, communications specialist and professor. As the Communications Coordinator for the Arkansas Out of School Network, she manages internal contact with programs, builds network support across the state and aids in stakeholder engagement and afterschool advocacy. Graycen also works as the Director of Placemaking for Cherokee Village, where she leverages arts and culture to spur economic growth and improve quality of life through community initiatives such as the Spring River Innovation Hub. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Northeast Arkansas Intermodal Authority and is an adjunct professor of art history for the Arkansas State University System.

Jennifer Dietrich
Policy Manager
Partnership for Children and Youth
Oakland, California

Jen Dietrich is the Policy Manager at the Partnership for Children & Youth, a non-profit in Oakland, California that focuses on high-quality learning opportunities for undeserved youth across the state. She also coordinates the California Afterschool Advocacy Alliance - an advocacy coalition made up of more than 20 expanded learning providers and advocacy organizations serving hundreds of thousands of students and families each day. Before joining the Partnership for Children & Youth in 2012, Jen spent 5 years serving members of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. and California State Assembly in Sacramento providing education finance, public safety, and judiciary policy analysis. She has a masters degree in Political Management from the George Washington University and a bachelors degree from the University of Washington in Seattle.

Stephanie Fitzgerald
Program Officer
United Way of Greater Rochester
Rochester, New York

Stephanie Fitzgerald is the School Age Youth Program Officer at United Way. In this position, she oversees an annual investment of four million dollars through United Way of Greater Rochester’s Community Fund that supports mentoring, after school enrichment and summer enrichment programs for children and youth. The goal of the United Way of Greater Rochester’s Community Fund investments is to ensure that every young person in the Greater Rochester community is ready for college, career and life by age 21. She believes in the power and magic of out-of-school time programs. Stephanie has worked with and for youth as an educator and trainer, youth and family counselor, volunteer coordinator and program funder for the past 30 years. She is certified to train school and community agency staff nationally on positive youth development and Reconnecting Youth, an evidence-based curriculum for youth at risk of dropping out of school. She was also a certified trainer, coach and external assessor for the Weikart Center for Youth’s Program Quality Process. She recently completed a term as a Power of Three Ambassador through the New York State Network for Youth Success.

Sheronda Fleming
Network Lead
North Carolina Center For Afterschool Programs
Raleigh, North Carolina

Sheronda Fleming is the Director of the North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs, NC CAP. As a college student, Sheronda founded the Ladies of Distinction mentoring program for middle school girls, which ignited a passion within her regarding the necessity for access to out-of-school time learning opportunities for all youth. Following that trajectory, Sheronda has spent the last 13 years serving youth in South and North Carolina through an array of roles in out-of-school time programs and youth serving organizations. Since 2017, Sheronda has been at the helm of NC CAP, working to support afterschool professionals and advocate for out-of-school time opportunities for youth statewide. A proud graduate of Furman University, Sheronda also holds a Master’s Degree in Youth Development Leadership from Clemson University and is a doctoral candidate at North Carolina State University.

Amy Gorn
Program Officer
Mat-Su Health Foundation
Wasilla, Alaska

Amy Gorn is a Program Officer for the Healthy Families focus area at the Mat-Su Health Foundation, which works to improve the health and wellness of Alaskans in the Mat-Su Borough. She is passionate about ensuring that all children are well-cared for, protected, thriving and successful. Amy has lived and worked in rural Alaska, spending many years working with tribal communities to support adolescents with positive development and prevention. Amy is a trainer of the David P. Weikart Center’s Youth Worker methods, and is Vice-Chair of the Governor-appointed Alaska Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee. Most importantly, she is the proud mother of her lively and sweet young daughter.

Kamalisha Green
ReThink Afterschool
Haleiwa, Hawaii

Kamalisha Green began her work in afterschool as a part-time employee over 15 years ago. She has spent time in the classroom as a teacher, and worked as an Afterschool Program Coordinator. In 2011 she founded Engaging School-Aged Programs to provide high quality enrichment programs, aimed at increasing students interest in school, building character, and closing achievement gaps. She later began an initiative called ReThink Afterschool which focuses on three highly critical areas in after-school; professional development, programming, and policy. Her aim is to motivate afterschool professionals about the importance of their work, and give them tools to be successful. Kam is also a children's book author, and blogger for Edutopia, and spends her downtime encouraging individuals to nurture their mindset, and build habits that get them closer to their goals through her blog, Get Up & Thrive™. She is scheduled to complete her M.Ed at Concordia University in August, and is eager to learn from her cohorts in the fellowship. 

Anna Harutyunyan
Nashville After Zone Alliance
Nashville, Tennessee

Anna Harutyunyan joined NAZA in May 2016 as the new Coordinator. Prior to that she worked in education and child protection sectors in her country of origin (Armenia) for 15 years. She also worked as the chief specialist at the Standing Committee of Education, Science, Culture and Youth Affairs in the Parliament of her country and then continued to work with international organizations such as USIAD, EU, Soros Foundation, and UN. Anna has promoted cross-country learning, provided technical assistance to the government in deciding the policy course, and assisted with in-depth assessments of children and their families. She has constantly promoted models of case management and professional (educational, social, rehabilitation, etc.) service provision at the community level through reliable community mobilization techniques to ensure that every child maintains the right to grow up in a safe family environment and receives services needed for healthy growth. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education Policy from Vanderbilt University and spent her 3-month internship at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington, D.C. researching WB funding of the education sector worldwide.

Karla Johnson
Network Lead
South Dakota Afterschool Network
Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Karla Johnson has been the Network Lead of the South Dakota Afterschool Network since August 2018. Karla is the former Business Development Director of EmBe in Sioux Falls and CEO of Youth Enrichment Services. Karla is one of the pioneers of South Dakota’s School Age Care industry, creating programs in elementary schools as early as 1980. She established before and after school programs in numerous public and private elementary schools throughout southeast South Dakota, and provided technical assistance to several school districts across the State as they created before and after school programs for their students. She is a past President of the South Dakota School-Age Care Alliance Board, a past Chair of the SD Afterschool Network, and a past member of the National Afterschool Association Board of Directors. Karla is also a past President of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra League and former member of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors.

Mavis Nimoh
Senior Project Manager
United Way of Rhode Island and network lead
Rhode Island Afterschool Leadership Circle
Providence, Rhode Island

Mavis Nimoh is Senior Project Manager in Expanded Learning at the United Way of Rhode Island and head of the Afterschool Leadership Circle, Rhode Island’s state afterschool network. She is an award winning executive level management and leadership professional with extensive experience in program development and implementation in the non-profit, education, and government sectors. Prior to the United Way she managed her own consulting firm, Creative Growth Strategic Capital Partners LLC, working with educational institutions. Her previous work included managing the clemency process in Pennsylvania under the Lt. Governor’s Office as well as access, quality care, and outcomes for uninsured and under-insured individuals with substance abuse disorders as well as designing community and data driven evidence informed/based prevention strategies for children in afterschool. She holds a Bachelor’s in Political Science from the University of Rhode Island, a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Penn State University, and a certificate in Leadership from Duquesne University. She is also a mother to a precocious three year old and currently resides in Pawtucket, RI.

Tamsyn Oakes
Kentucky Out of School Alliance
Berea, Kentucky

Tamsyn Oakes graduated with a B.S. in Child Development from Eastern Kentucky University and has been an afterschool professional since 2004, currently serving as Director of the Kentucky Out-of-School Alliance.  Before taking on the role of network lead, she served as Site Manager and then Project Director over multiple 21st Century Community Learning Center in rural eastern Kentucky, and Program Specialist in literacy and family engagement for international non-profit Save the Children. As Director of the Kentucky Out-of-School Alliance, Tamsyn works with network partners to increase reach and improve quality of afterschool and summer programs across the state.

Elyse Preston
Associate Director
Maryland Out of School Time Network
Baltimore, Maryland

Elyse Preston is the Associate Director of the Maryland Out of School Time Network. In her role, she works to further afterschool policy at the state-level, and provide ongoing training and support for afterschool and summer programs and to help them increase their capacity. She is passionate about positive youth development and promoting community wellbeing. Prior to her work with MOST, Elyse served as the Program Manager for Strong City Baltimore's 29th Street Community Center. Under her leadership, the Center expanded its program offerings and the Center became more widely known in the community.

Betsy O Saatman
Technical Assistance Specialist
Pennsylvania Key
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Betsy O. Saatman has worked in the School Age Child Care field for over 25 years as a teacher of 4-6 grade, an administrator of multi-sites, 9 years as an Environment Rating Scale Assessor, and is currently a TA Specialist with the School Age Projects through the PA Key.  She possesses a Master’s in Teaching and curriculum, has presented at the National level and is currently active on PSAYDN’s Steering Committee/Quality Committee, as well as a Board member of PENNSACCA.

Eric VandenHeuvel
Chief Academic Officer
Boys and Girls Club of Green Bay
Green Bay, Wisconsin

Eric Vanden Heuvel has served as the Chief Academic Officer for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay since 2014. Prior to that, he spent 7 years in public education as a classroom teacher and elementary principal. At the Club, Eric oversees the operations and special program initiatives for an afterschool and summer program that operates in 7 locations and serves almost 600 youth, ages 7-18, every day. He has also served as an Afterschool Ambassador for the Afterschool Alliance and continues to work closely with colleagues from the Wisconsin Afterschool Network to advance out-of-school time opportunities for children and young adults across the state. Professional areas of interest include social emotional learning and trauma informed care, arts and STEM programming, workforce development, and high school graduation rates.

Cassie Willner
Communications Coordinator
Vermont Afterschool
Colchester, Vermont

Cassie Willner is the communications coordinator at Vermont Afterschool, where she has worked since 2012 to increase awareness of out-of-school time programs. She also works with advocates, providers, educational stakeholders, and policymakers to develop strategies that will improve the quality of and access to afterschool and summer programs across Vermont. Cassie is a writer, communicator, and educator with many diverse teaching experiences. She most recently taught middle and high school English at the Mt. Mansfield Winter Academy (MMWA), as well as directed MMWA’s communications and development efforts. Cassie also worked to create local afterschool programs with community partners at the University of Vermont's Fleming Museum, and has a deep appreciation for alternative learning opportunities. When not developing nonprofit communication strategies, freelance writing, or chasing after her long-legged daughter Elsa, she loves to garden and grow lots of flowers. Cassie holds a M.A. in communications and journalism from the University of Colorado and a B.A. in English from Colgate University

Jessica Woltjen
Policy and Outreach Manager
Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network
Atlanta, Georgia

Jessica Woltjen is currently the Policy & Outreach Manager at the Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network (GSAN). Jessica joined GSAN and Voices for Georgia’s Children in January 2015 after interning at both organizations the previous summer through the Southern Education Leadership Initiative. Previously, Jessica interned at the Public Schools Forum of North Carolina and the North Carolina Center for Voter Education. Jessica earned her Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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