Since 2005, Jodi Grant has been Executive Director of the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit public awareness and advocacy organization working to ensure that all children and youth have access to quality, affordable afterschool programs.
In America today, 11.3 million children take care of themselves after the school day ends, more than 10 million students are in afterschool programs but the parents of almost 20 million children say their kids would participate if a program were available. The Afterschool Alliance seeks to educate the public, the media and policy makers about the enormous potential of quality afterschool programs and how programs across the country are inspiring children and creating opportunities for them to succeed academically, socially and professionally. The Afterschool Alliance serves as a national voice for afterschool and provides resources and materials to more than 25,000 afterschool programs. It organizes national and local afterschool events, including the organization’s signature event, Lights On Afterschool; conducts research on the need and support for afterschool; creates tools for afterschool practitioners; and connects afterschool leaders to national, state and local opinion leaders.
As Executive Director, Grant oversees all aspects of the Afterschool Alliance’s work – setting its goals and strategies for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, working with the field to help programs tap into federal funding streams, and supervising research to help national, state and local afterschool advocates and providers support, create and expand quality afterschool programs.
Prior to joining the Afterschool Alliance, Grant served as Director of Work and Family Programs for the National Partnership for Women & Families. In that position, she worked to protect and expand the Family & Medical Leave Act and was a member of the team that successfully defended the law before the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to that, she worked on Capitol Hill as General Counsel to the Senate Budget Committee and as Staff Director for a Senate Committee. Her legislative accomplishments include expanded support for the child tax credit, the Child Health Insurance Program and class size reduction. She also served as liaison to the National Governors’ Association, where she worked closely with Republican and Democratic governors.
Grant graduated from Yale University with honors and was elected senior class president. She received her law degree from Harvard University, where she was elected class president (first marshall). As a student, she volunteered at an afterschool program. She currently serves as a Trustee of the America’s Promise Alliance and as an Advisory Board Member of Time Warner Cable’s “Connect a Million Minds” campaign. Grant, her husband and two children live in Bethesda, Maryland.
Melissa Ballard, STEM Manager
Melissa joined the Afterschool Alliance in October 2012, where she helps to identify and support the needs of the afterschool field to offer quality science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programming through research, partnership building, advocacy, and communications. Before coming to the Alliance, Melissa worked at a children's science center, developing a variety of STEM programs, training educators, and teaching students. Melissa has a background in industrial and operations engineering and liberal studies, earning a B.S.E. and a B.G.S. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Michael Burke, Director of Development
Michael joined the Afterschool Alliance in 2013, where he helps to research, explore and cultivate funding opportunities from local, state and federal agencies, public corporations, and private foundations. He also conducts the full range of activities required to prepare and submit grant proposals as well as manage multiple grants. Michael came to the Afterschool Alliance from the Salvation Army’s Central Kentucky Services Area in Lexington, KY, where he served as Grant Writer and Development Officer in support of their Emergency Homeless Shelter & Transitional Living Center and Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club. Prior to his work with the Salvation Army, Michael served at United Way of the Bluegrass as Grant Writer, Project Manager for the Assets for Independence Individual Development Account Program, and Coordinator of the Get on Board Nonprofit Board of Director Training Program. Michael has a B.A. in History from the University of Kentucky and an M.A. in Church History/Theology from Lexington Theological Seminary.
Bianka Ewers, Budget & Finance Specialist
Bianka joined the Afterschool Alliance team in May 2015 as a Budget & Finance Specialist. She assists with budget tracking and reporting, and she supports finance management in daily, monthly and quarterly activities. Bianka has more than fifteen years of experience in corporate financial planning, analysis, statistics, budgeting, and forecasting of financial data. Prior to joining Afterschool Alliance, Bianka was the head of the financial planning department of a large healthcare facility group in Germany. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from University of Maryland University College.
Dan Gilbert, Project Manager
Dan joined the Afterschool Alliance in July 2014. As a Project Manager, Dan works to advance the Alliance’s outreach and messaging efforts, coordinates the Alliance’s activities and collaborative efforts with partner organizations, and plans and implements projects including performing research and writing and disseminating reports for stakeholders at the national, state, and local level. Dan has experience working for Massachusetts state government, European Parliament, and political campaigns, and most recently worked at the Alliance for Excellent Education’s Center for Digital Learning & Policy. He has a Master’s in Public Administration from the Trachtenberg School at the George Washington University and a Bachelor’s degree in political science from Northeastern University in Boston.
Shaun Gray, Production and Office Manager
Shaun Gray joined the Afterschool Alliance in February 2003. As the Production Manager, she oversees the creation and production of Afterschool Alliance printed materials related to Lights On Afterschool, the Afterschool for All Challenge as well as other Afterschool Alliance publications. Shaun works closely with the communications team in handling day-to-day email outreach to the afterschool field. As the Office Manager, Shaun carries out a range of administrative and IT-related tasks including planning conference/meetings and staff retreats, managing vendor relations and acting as IT liaison. Shaun also assists the VP of Finance and Administration with various tasks and projects. Prior to joining the Afterschool Alliance, Shaun served as the Meetings and Executive Assistant of a national trade association, American Beverage Licensees. She planned much of the association's conferences and meetings and assisted the Director of Communications with newsletter updates. Shaun holds a degree in Graphic/Web Design from the Art Institute of Washington.
Ursula Helminski, Vice President, External Affairs
Ursula Helminski has worked with the Afterschool Alliance since its inception, and was part of its founding team. She develops strategy and communications for the organization and oversees public awareness initiatives such as the national Lights On Afterschool event and Afterschool for All, a campaign uniting high-profile and grassroots voices from diverse sectors in support of afterschool. Before coming to the Afterschool Alliance, she was a Senior Associate at the communications and organizing consulting firm Fowler Hoffman, where she worked on issue campaigns ranging from youth violence prevention to telecommunications, and advised foundations on their communications strategies. She has served as editor of a trade journal covering policy in Washington, D.C., worked in cause-related marketing at The Nature Conservancy and taught English in a Moscow public school. Ursula has a B.A. in Political Science and English from Duke University.
Maria Leyva, Development Operations Associate
Maria joined the Afterschool Alliance in February 2016. She will work on prospects cultivation, donor research and tracking, along with grant reports, proposals and other development and fundraising activities. Maria brings over ten years of experience working in the nonprofit sector in grant administration, development, health research, training and technical assistance. In her last position with the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, she oversaw foundation relations and worked on all aspects of development activities. While raising three boys, Maria and her husband have been grateful for the array of programs her sons have participated in through afterschool and summer enrichment opportunities. A Boston native of Cuban-Chilean heritage, Maria received her Bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and a Master’s degree from Boston University School of Public Health.
Tiereny Lloyd, Director of Health and Wellness Initiatives
As the Director of Health and Wellness Initiatives, Tiereny directs a national, state and local level effort to advance health and wellness policy for children and youth in afterschool, summer learning, early care and education programs. Before joining the Afterschool Alliance in January 2016, Tiereny served as Senior Manager of Strategic Relationships at SHAPE America for Let’s Move! Active Schools. Previous to her work with Let’s Move! Active Schools, Tiereny managed an oral health campaign to reduce pediatric dental disease while at the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation. She also developed a national physical activity program for Head Start children while working at the National Head Start Association. Tiereny is a graduate of George Washington University and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in maternal and child health.
Jillian Luchner, Policy Associate
Jillian joined the Afterschool Alliance team as a Policy Associate in 2015. Her work involves tracking trends in afterschool policy and programs at the state and federal level and communicating successful and innovative approaches toward supporting youth during out-of-school time. Jillian worked for years as a teacher and afterschool educator in the Washington, D.C. region. She also served as an AmeriCorps VISTA and community development director in California’s Central Valley. She holds undergraduate degrees in Economics and Geology and a Master’s in Public Policy specializing in education from the University of Maryland at College Park.
Erik Peterson, Vice President, Policy
Erik joined the Afterschool Alliance in July 2009 and coordinates and advances the Afterschool Alliance’s policy efforts at the federal level by helping develop policy goals and implementing strategies that advance access to quality afterschool programs for all. Erik works to build and strengthen relationships with policy makers and allied organizations to increase public support and funding for quality before-school, afterschool and summer learning programs. Prior to coming to the Afterschool Alliance, Erik worked for the School Nutrition Association (SNA) in the Washington DC, area and as both an AmeriCorps VISTA and staff for the Sustainable Food Center in Austin, Texas. He received his Master's in Public Affairs from the LBJ School at the University of Texas, and also has a Bachelor's degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Jen Rinehart, Vice President, Policy & Research
Jen Rinehart joined the Afterschool Alliance in September 2002 and established the Afterschool Alliance's Washington, D.C., office. Jen takes a primary role in the Afterschool Alliance's coalition building, policy and research efforts, and serves as a spokesperson for the organization. Jen oversees major initiatives including the Afterschool for All Challenge, an annual afterschool advocacy day, and America After 3PM, an ongoing study of how children in America spend their afterschool hours. In addition, Jen works closely with the statewide afterschool networks to help them use research to advance their state policy goals and to engage them in federal advocacy efforts. Prior to joining the Afterschool Alliance, Jen served for more than five years on the staff of the Department of Education, primarily as a Project Officer for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, the principal federal program supporting afterschool. Jen has a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Elementary Education from Gettysburg College and a master's degree in Human Development from the University of Maryland at College Park. She works closely with a number of national organizations and initiatives that share the Afterschool Alliance's vision of afterschool for all.
Stephanie Rodriguez, Director of STEM Policy
Stephanie Rodriguez joined the Afterschool Alliance in June 2017 as Director of STEM Policy. In this role, Stephanie is responsible for creating and advancing federal, state, and local opportunities and policies to expand resources and activities that provide students with access to a rich STEM curriculum in their afterschool programs. Stephanie brings years of experience in STEM education research and outreach to a wide variety of audiences in this role. Before joining the Afterschool Alliance, Stephanie served as an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation. While at NSF, she worked on efforts to broaden participation in computer science and other STEM fields. Prior to her fellowship, Stephanie served as Director of the Young Scientist Program, a 25-year-old outreach program that engages St. Louis public school teachers and students in hands-on STEM experiences, while providing critical resources to a community in need. Stephanie completed her PhD in immunology at Washington University in St. Louis, where she studied the T-cell development process and devised innovative strategies to observe this phenomenon in live animals, in real time, using advanced microscopy techniques.
Leah Silverberg, Research Assistant
Leah joined the Afterschool Alliance team in January 2017 and works to assist the STEM and research teams with ongoing projects. Before coming to the Alliance, Leah spent time working for her college’s science literacy program, and has had experience working for STEM afterschool programs. Leah graduated from Bard College with a B.A. in Biology and Studio Art.
Charlotte Steinecke, Communications Manager
Charlotte joined the Afterschool Alliance in March 2017 to manage the Afterschool Snack blog and provide editorial and communications support across the organization. Previously, Charlotte was an Editor at LivingSocial, where she developed travel-themed copy and worked closely with the marketing team. She has also worked in communications at a medical education nonprofit, as a constituent contact at the Maryland State Senate, and in a florist’s shop in Takoma Park. She holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland.
Alexis Steines, Field Outreach Director
As Field Outreach Director, Alexis Steines serves as the liaison between the Afterschool Alliance and its growing network of afterschool providers. She keeps the field up-to-date on the ever-changing afterschool policy landscape and mobilizes them to affect the development of afterschool-related public policy. Alexis also manages the Afterschool Alliance’s national AmeriCorps VISTA project, focused on creating sustainable afterschool programs, increasing participation in the afterschool and summer meal programs and expanding access to STEM education afterschool. Alexis joined the Afterschool Alliance in June 2011 after spending five years with the School Nutrition Association, primarily as the Public Affairs Associate. In that position, she monitored federal and state legislation, including the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, served as liaison to several allied organizations, and assisted in managing media relations for the association. Alexis holds a B.A. in History and Political Science from The George Washington University.
Andrea Szegedy-Maszak, Field Outreach Coordinator
Andrea joined the Afterschool Alliance team in June 2016. As a Field Outreach Coordinator, she serves as a program liaison for the new Afterschool Alliance AmeriCorps VISTA STEM Ecosystem project and supports AmeriCorps VISTA members in their efforts to expand and sustain STEM learning programs across the country. Andrea has previous experience coordinating out-of-school STEM education projects and designing STEM curricula. She graduated from Bard College with a B.A. in Biology, focusing specifically on STEM education.
Elizabeth Tish, Special Assistant to the Executive Director
Elizabeth joined the Afterschool Alliance team in June 2016. As Special Assistant to the Executive Director, she gives program and administrative support to the Executive Director. Prior to joining the Afterschool Alliance, she interned at Civic Nation and ECMC Innovation Lab in Washington, DC. Elizabeth graduated from the University of North Carolina in 2015 with a B.A. in Public Policy, concentrated on Education.
Nikki joined the Afterschool Alliance in June 2012, where she works with the Vice President of Policy and Research to coordinate and implement annual research activities, design surveys on pressing issues in the afterschool field and analyze research findings, communicating the need for and great successes of afterschool programs to policy makers, afterschool providers, advocates, and the public. Prior to joining the Afterschool Alliance, Nikki served in a variety of research capacities, including as Policy Advisor at Third Way, where she handled a wide range of domestic policy issues such as juvenile justice, and as legislative assistant to former Rep. Hilda L. Solis, where she handled education and youth issues. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology from the University of California, San Diego,and a Masters in Public Policy from University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy.
Irina Zabello joined the Afterschool Alliance in February 2014, bringing more than 10 years of experience in management finance, HR and operations. Before coming to the Afterschool Alliance, she was a Senior Director of Finance and Administration at the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, where she managed finance, human resources, IT, and operations, including building and grounds management.
In her earlier career she taught Biology, Health Promotion and Applied Economics of Junior Achievement in Latvia, and worked as a Russian language instructor with the American Field Service and U.S. Peace Corps in the Baltics. Irina holds her master’s degree in Biology, and later studied Accounting at the USDA Graduate School in Washington, D.C.
With the Afterschool Alliance, Irina combines her passion for education and finance/operations management.