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Policy Fellows

Class of 2019-2020 

The Riley Institute is proud to announce its eighth class of White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellows who, beginning in October 2019, will spend ten months studying afterschool and expanded learning policy and developing state-level policy plans in partnership with their State Afterschool Networks and the National Afterschool Alliance.

 

Anna Almerico
Network Lead
Idaho Out-of-School Network (Boise, Idaho)

Engaged, curious and dedicated, Anna Almerico, has worked with and assisted in building organizations and movements to strengthen the quality of life for youth in Idaho. Anna is passionate about ensuring all youth have equal opportunities to quality and enriching experiences and is currently the Program Director of the Idaho Out-of-School Network. Anna holds a BA from the University of St. Thomas in Criminal Justice and a minor in Peace and Justice Studies and is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer where her projects included developing and delivering self-esteem workshops and providing educational experiences for young girls in rural Bolivia.  Anna was formerly the Director for the Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program where she worked to expand the role of volunteer lawyers in civil legal proceedings and ensure survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence had legal representation in family law cases, on immigration matters and during protection order hearings.  Anna enjoys the four seasons, staying active outside and is delighted to be raising three teenagers in Boise!

 

Benjamin Baird
Spokane County Program Quality Manager
School's Out Washington (Spokane, Washington)

Benjamin Baird is the Spokane County Program Quality Manager at School’s Out Washington. He works directly with providers organizing quality improvement efforts. In addition, he works with advocates, families, educational stakeholders, and policymakers to develop strategies to improve the quality of and access to afterschool and summer programs across Washington State with a focus on rural communities in central and eastern Washington state. Prior to his role at School’s Out Washington Benjamin was the Assistant Manager of Youth Development at West Central Community Center where he designed high quality programming for the communities most under-represented youth and families in the West Central and Emmerson-Garfield neighborhoods of Spokane. During this time, Benjamin was also a guest Educator at The Community School, a project based high school in the Spokane Public Schools system, where he facilitated the Peer Assistance and Leadership program as a credited elective class. He also created The OWL (Outdoor & Wilderness Learning) Program that teaches self-reliance and positive life skills to children and teens by using outdoor experiences as a catalyst for learning. In his current role, Benjamin uses his nearly 18 years’ experience in direct youth development service to influence his approach to advocacy and partnership building; believing change happens within local communities and blossoms outward to influence state and national policy.

 

Brent Balog
Community Liaison & Outreach Coordinator
Clackamas Workforce Partnership (Portland, Oregon)

Brent Balog is a West Virginia native currently living in Portland, Oregon. He went to West Virginia University and graduated with a BA in English and an MA in Secondary Education. He has 10 years professional experience as an educator, community organizer, and youth and family advocate. The bulk of his professional experience is with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, where he was responsible for grant management, family and community outreach, event planning, and teen services. Currently, Brent works as the Community Liaison for Clackamas Workforce Partnership, a nonprofit workforce development board in Clackamas County, Oregon. In this role, he is the acting Equal Opportunity officer, and is responsible for community outreach and partnership development, event planning, youth program services, and he facilitates the organization’s Workforce Equity and Inclusion Council. In a volunteer capacity, he serves as the Youth Outreach Committee Chairman for the Democratic Party of Clackamas County, where he coordinates engagement efforts with youth activists and voters. As a Riley-White Fellow, he hopes to focus on increased funding and support for career and technical education opportunities during both in- and out-of-school time, with an emphasis on increased access for youth of color, LGBTQ+ youth, and youth with disabilities. In his free time he enjoys travel, seeing live entertainment, reading, playing chess, jogging, and being outside.

 

Charmaine Davis-Bey
21st CCLC Education Program Specialist
Ohio Department of Education (Columbus, Ohio)

Charmaine is a proud educator and public servant – currently as a 21st CCLC Education Program Specialist for the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), where she supports (via regular technical assistance and annual trainings)  212 active 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) grants, serving approximately 12,790 students across all grade levels, throughout the state of Ohio.  Prior to starting at ODE, Charmaine spend three years in the field of out-of-school time education, beginning in early 2013 - when she has worked for several organizations in the Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio-area. In various roles (including program supervisor and site coordinator), she was responsible for supporting high school students through impactful mentoring, creating/implementing supportive curriculum towards academic, civic and social-emotional growth and tracking student and family outcome data. She now proudly uses that experience to ensure students throughout the state of Ohio receive that same level of quality programming. Charmaine holds a B.A. in Communications: PR from Xavier University (OH) in 2005, an M.B.A. from The University of Phoenix in 2009 and, most recently, her M. Ed. Educational Psychology: Student Learning and Well-Being, from The University of Missouri-Columbia in December 2019.

 

Robert Dorigo Jones
Policy and Outreach Associate
Michigan's Children (Lansing, Michigan)

Robert Dorigo Jones has served as Policy and Outreach Associate for Michigan’s Children for two years, bringing his passion for justice, equity, and public policies that are rooted in what we know about how people grow, to Michigan’s Children. Robert supports the entirety of the organization's policy work, including early childhood, child abuse prevention, and K-12 education priorities. Robert previously provided policy analysis and project management support for the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren. A student of education and social policy, Robert received his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and his masters degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He lives in Lansing.

 

Kate Foster
Program Coordinator
Wyoming Afterschool Alliance (Laramie, Wyoming)

Kate is the Program Coordinator for the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance (WYAA), which works to improve outcomes for all of Wyoming’s youth. One of the most inspiring aspects of her experience at WYAA has been the organization’s efforts to elevate the conversation around juvenile justice, especially through the annual statewide summit. Prior to entering the afterschool field in 2018, she worked as the communications manager for a five-star accredited chamber of commerce. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Wyoming and resides in Lander, where she enjoys unparalleled access to the Wind River Mountains.

 

Tyneisha Gibbs
Director of Expanded Learning Opportunities
NJSACC (Westfield, New Jersey)

Tyneisha K. Gibbs currently serves as the Director of Expanded Learning Opportunities for NJSACC: New Jersey’s School Age Care Coaltion. She is also the founder and Principal Consultant of 144th & Vine, LLC, a nonprofit consulting agency and the co-creator of “Cuz I said So Podcast.” She has her BA in Psychology with a double minor in Social Work and Multicultural Studies from Rider University, a Certificate in Non Profit Management from The College of New Jersey, a certificate in Corporate Social Responsibility from Rutgers Business School- Institute of Ethical Leadership and is a former fellow of the Rutgers Business School- Institute of Ethical Leadership’s Victoria Emerging Leaders Program. She believes learning is a lifelong process and is dedicated to expanding learning opportunities for others.

Mrs. Gibbs has an introspective insight into the Non Profit sector due to her unique and wide-ranging background covering Outcome Measurement, Relationship Management, Workforce Development, Project/Program Management, Community/Public Relations, Strategic Partnership Development, and Urban/Multicultural Programs. With over ten years of Youth Development, Management and Supervision experience, she believes, “Unorthodox methods of Education can break generational cycles of mental enslavement.” Her life’s passion is dedicated to uplifting our communities through education and access to resources.

She was born in Newark, NJ and raised in the Jersey shore town of Neptune, NJ. She began her career as a teacher during the day and a volunteer within the Boys & Girls Club movement. Besides teaching and working in various roles for non- profit organizations throughout NJ, she is a PROUD member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, serving on both the local and regional levels. Mrs. Gibbs has spoken at colleges and universities, as well as facilitated workshops for her peers. In addition to being passionate about her career, she is a phenomenal wife and an amazing mother to her daughter.

 

Tiyana Glenn
Charlotte NEXT Director
MeckEd (Charlotte, North Carolina)

Tiyana Glenn is the Director of Charlotte NEXT at MeckEd. Tiyana joined MeckEd in March 2018 as the Coordinator of Charlotte NEXT. Prior to MeckEd, she served in a nonprofit, after-school program for almost four years. There she served in several roles including Program Assistant, Program Director, and Program Coordinator & Coach. As the Director of Charlotte NEXT, Tiyana upholds the program’s mission to provide access, awareness, and quality to Out-of-School Time (OST) programming, particularly for Title I Charlotte-Mecklenburg middle school students. She oversees the Charlotte NEXT grants, OST professional development series, and online searchable tool for Charlotte-area OST programs known as The Locator. Tiyana holds a B.A. in Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and an M.S. in Family & Human Development from Arizona State University. She currently sits on the Advisory Board for North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs and is a happily newlywed.

 

Brandon Hutton
Research Project Coordinator
Kansas Enrichment Network (Lawrence, Kansas)

Brandon Hutton has worked in the youth development field for 10 years. His career began at the Boys and Girls Club of Manhattan, KS, where he started as a part time program leader and worked his way up to become a Senior Unit Director.  Brandon is currently a research project coordinator for the University of Kansas, Center for Public Partnerships and Research which houses the Kansas Enrichment Network (KEN).  KEN is the statewide afterschool network for Kansas.  Brandon’s main focus is providing technical assistance for the 21stCentury Community Learning Centers in Kansas. He is also a National Afterschool Matters Fellow and has trained at several national conferences. His specialty is in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) and afterschool program logistics and design.

 

Heather May
AmeriCorps VISTA
Maryland Out of School Time Network (Baltimore, Maryland)

Heather May is a South Carolina native who recently moved to Maryland. She has a B.A. in Southern Literature from Emory University and a J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law. She spent two years practicing law with a focus on indigent representation in criminal and domestic cases. Heather also concentrated on youth and community development through her work with her local bar association.

Heather is serving as the AmeriCorps VISTA for the Maryland Coalition for Community Schools. The Coalition aims to expand the community school strategy and ensure dedicated funding is provided by the Legislature to implement these programs statewide. Heather is committed to the idea that every child in Maryland is capable of academic success with access to fully funded schools and robust community services.

 

Jeff McConaughy
Director of Policy and Communications
New Mexico Out-of-School Time Network (Albuquerque, New Mexico)

Jeff spent almost 30 years in the semiconductor industry doing IT and IT management work with Philips and Intel. Following his retirement from Intel in the summer of 2016, he participated in an “Encore Fellowship” which matches recent industry retirees with non-profit organizations. He was paired with Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum and part of the work was to assist in their new fiscal sponsorship relationship with the New Mexico Out-of-School Time Network (NMOST). Following the fellowship, Jeff applied to be the NMOST STEM Coordinator and has been acting in that capacity, as well as managing web content, social media, and much of the communications for the network, ever since. Jeff has bachelor’s degrees in biology and computer science, and brings a unique perspective to the out-of-school time (OST) STEM space having worked as a laboratory technician, in a factory, as a programmer, and in many technical/engineering capacities in industry and research. As a parent, Jeff has also seen the impact that OST programs have had on his daughter, and he has personal experience with the essential nature of OST for working parents and the sense of relief and appreciation that comes from knowing that your child is in a safe, enriching environment after the school day.

 

Kate-Marie Roycroft
Director of Public Policy
The Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs (Boston, Massachusetts)

Kate-Marie Roycroft is the Director of Public Policy for the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs where she advocates for policies that affect the YMCA and runs statewide programs for the 27 corporate Y’s and their 720+ YMCA sites across the Commonwealth. Her expertise is wide with concentrations in public health, early education, out of school time, camp, water safety, diversity and inclusion, nonprofits, and public policy. Kate-Marie began her career as a Legislative Aide to the State Representative of the 15th Suffolk District, Jeff Sanchez, and the Chairman on the Committee of Public Health. One year later she became the Chief of Staff to the Committee of Public Health where she worked on community and university relations, youth violence, immigration rights, education and various public health topics. Kate-Marie has an undergraduate degree in History and Business from Providence College and a Masters of Science in Public Affairs from the McCormack School at the University of Boston. She is a yoga teacher, a board member of the Y Professional Network, and a member of multiple advisory committees within the public sphere. She lives in Malden with her husband Derek, daughter Mabel, and dog Fitz.

 

John Unger II
Senator / Rev. / President of GRaCE Company
West Virginia Senate / GRaCE - Greater Recovery and Community Empowerment (Harpers Ferry, West Virginia)

As someone who has found the joy in helping others, John Unger has committed his life to being a public servant-leader and bringing together his many experiences in theology and public life. Unger is currently serving as a West Virginia state senator representing Berkeley and Jefferson counties in West Virginia. Unger was first elected to the West Virginia Senate in 1998 at the age of 28 – making him one of the youngest elected state senators in West Virginia history. Also, Unger is currently the pastor of the three historic Harpers Ferry Civil War churches: St. John Lutheran Church, Camp Hill - Wesley United Methodist Church, and the priest of St. John’s Episcopal Church. This is the first ministry in the nation where a pastor is serving three different denominations (Lutheran, United Methodist, and Episcopal) at the same time.

Unger has immersed himself in many community and religious projects. He worked for the United States Refugee Program as the Special Assistant to the Director of Hong Kong. There he worked with Vietnamese refugee children to establish a secure and nurturing environment. He was extensively involved with the legislation that established Hong Kong’s highest court, the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal (CFA). Unger also served as Deputy Secretary to JUSTICE (The Hong Kong Section of the International Commission of Jurists). During that time, he was instrumental in establishing the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor and advocating for other human rights legislation prior to the territory’s hand over to the People’s Republic of China in 1997.

Unger spent a year working with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India during the monsoons and riots in 1990. There, he coordinated the distribution of relief supplies. He also served as a member of the International Rescue Committee and the U.S. State Department Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) providing relief for Kurdish refugees in southern Turkey and northern Iraq following the Persian Gulf War in 1991. 

During his Senate tenure in West Virginia, Senator Unger established universal early childhood education, Feed to Achieve Act, Intergenerational Summer Feeding, Youth Life Coaches and the West Virginia Workforce Investment Act. He continues to work as a social entrepreneur on starting programs and develop public policy supporting children and youth.

Several years ago, Unger started the Spiritual Care Services chaplaincy program at Jefferson Memorial Hospital (WVUH-East System). He is the Founder and President of Greater Recovery and Community Empowerment (GRaCE) that provides training and support for individuals seeking help with their recovery from trauma, ACEs, mental illness (include depression and anxiety), PTSD, and addiction. 

Unger is a Rhodes Scholar who graduated from WVU with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Liberal Arts / Biology, Oxford University with a BA/MA (Oxon) in Philosophy, Politics and of Economics and Wesley Theological Seminary with the M.Div (Honors). 

 

Zong Vang
Strategy Manager Policy and Network Evaluation
Ignite Afterschool with Sprockets (St. Paul, Minnesota)

Zong Vue Vang is the Strategy Manager: Policy Network and Evaluation. Zong has an extensive background of over 10 years in both education and youth work in the Twin Cities. As a first generation college student, Zong attended Concordia University in St. Paul and graduated with a bachelor's degree in Secondary Education and minor in Special Education. Her passion focuses on social justice, education, and community organizing. She believes every child deserves equitable access to education, afterschool programming and healthy living which will allow them to choose their pathway in life. Networking and community organizing provides her opportunities to leverage resources and elevate communities. Prior to Ignite Afterschool and SPROCKETS, Zong has been engaged with the St. Paul Promise Neighborhood, SPROCKETS, St. Paul Public Schools, as well as other community-based and grass-roots initiatives.

 

Shawna Viola
Research and Evaluation Specialist
Connecticut After School Network (Branford, Connecticut)

Recently graduating from Central Connecticut State University, Shawna was a Psychological Science major with a focus in Community Research and Intervention. Starting in 2018 as the Connecticut After School Network’s Research intern her senior year she was hired as the first Research & Evaluation Specialist. Shawna’s interest areas include issues of social inequity in the community as well as addressing disparities in the out-of-school time field. As part of her internship, she helped inform the Coaching and Learning for After School Professionals (CLASP) “Moving Towards Mastery” cohort by examining the most prominent problems of practice in the afterschool field through a series of focus groups and interviews. In her role at the Network, she has taken this experience and is now regularly involved in conversations with out-of-school time partners and higher education researchers to address issues practitioners face in programming. Her hope is to gain fundamental experiences and skills that will help her explore her passion further in doctoral studies in the future.

 

Heather Williams
Program Director, Policy and Outreach
California AfterSchool Network (Sacramento, California)

Heather Williams is the Program Director for Policy and Outreach for the California AfterSchool Network (CAN). In this role Heather focuses on advocacy and outreach activities, working with statewide and national stakeholders to increase the quantity and quality of Out-of-School Time opportunities for youth in California. Prior to joining CAN she served as the Strategic Initiatives & Partnerships Lead for the Expanded Learning Division at the California Department of Education. There she oversaw the development and implementation of strategic plan efforts that reshaped the Division to focus on providing high quality expanded learning opportunities for California’s youth. She helped ensure strong, ongoing engagement of external stakeholders and advisers throughout this process. Heather received her BA in Political Science from CSU Fullerton where she was heavily involved with student advocacy work, including serving as President and CEO of the Associated Students and as a leader in the California State Student Association. Today Heather lives in West Sacramento with her husband and their pets. She also serves as the Co-Chair for the Sacramento Regions donor fund, Inspire Giving.