Accepting an Honor on Behalf of Many

Every day about 2:30 pm or so, millions of young people enter the doors of afterschool programs where they learn, play and grow together.  They are supported by hundreds of thousands of committed and creative afterschool professionals.

Those leaders are supported by professional development, funding and quality initiatives, all created and supported by systems-builders at local, state and national levels.  For my role in supporting those afterschool leaders and systems-builders, I am humbled to be honored this week by the National AfterSchool Association as one of the top 25 most influential people in afterschool.

For more than 15 years, I have worked with a team at Collaborative Communications Group to convene, document, support and advance the work of the afterschool field, largely through the development of the C.S. Mott Foundation-funded statewide afterschool networks.

Integral to the statewide afterschool networks are the many individuals and organizations committed to partnerships, collaboration and dissemination of good policies and practices of afterschool programs. The true heroes are the network leads who are both visionaries and implementers. Their efforts—often unrecognized—are truly influencing the afterschool field every day in advancing policies, funding and quality across the states.  I am in awe of their efforts.

Collaborative’s work is often to design and set the stage for experts to come together.  In support of the networks, we coordinate some brilliant minds as part of the Afterschool Technical Assistance Collaborative (ATAC). This group of national organizations continually brings together an impressive breadth and depth of skills and expertise in supporting network development.  And my work is only the tip of the iceberg of the deep thinking and technical assistance happening by my colleagues Victoria Wegener, Janelle Cousino, Steve Fowler, Terry Peterson and others.

In 1998, I played a small role in producing a live satellite teleconference with Vice President Al Gore called “Making After-School Count.”  That was my first encounter with the C.S. Mott Foundation and their absolute commitment to expanding learning opportunities for young people. Working in partnership with program officers An-Me Chung, Gwynn Hughes and Kari Pardoe, I have learned the power of afterschool.  I am grateful my work is making a difference.  Thanks, NAA, for the honor!