For Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week, we asked a number of alumni of our Afterschool Ambassador program to reflect on how their experience as Ambassadors shaped their work and careers. This is the second of four posts in the series.
Paula Adams, Hawai’i, 2011-2012 Ambassador Class
The Afterschool Ambassador program was my springboard to fully understanding the power of communication and advocacy for a cause that I truly believe in: giving children access to high-quality programs. Thanks to the Ambassador program, Hawai’i built an afterschool network of stakeholders, the Hawai’i Afterschool Alliance, invested in out-of-school time programs, which is helping Hawai’i communities advance policies supporting afterschool programs.
Brent Cummings, Washington State, 2014-15 Ambassador Class
My year as an Afterschool Ambassador, and the years since, have forced me to continually assess the work we are doing at the local level within our school district. During my Ambassador tenure, it became increasingly apparent that a quality assessment framework was the key component to positively affecting student academic success. As a result, we have since created student-centered feedback and reflection strategies within our programs to help ensure that quality programming results in positive academic outcomes.
Herb Higgin, Indiana, 2001-02 Ambassador Class
Being accepted to be an Afterschool Ambassador truly opened my eyes to the field of afterschool. The experience allowed me to see afterschool on a national level and helped me carry that message to our statewide network. Since then we have raised the advocacy levels tremendously. As a field, we truly are so much more than babysitters – but instead are rigorous educational entities that support student achievement. The partnership with the Afterschool Alliance helps keep those fires burning.
Lynn Sobolov, West Virginia, 2002-03 Ambassador Class
My tour of duty as an Afterschool Ambassador was a game-changer for me and my career as an afterschool professional. I learned that a site visit from a U.S. senator is magical—local leaders who you’ve been inviting to visit your program for several years appear—and that developing relationships with decision-makers at the local, state, and national levels really makes a difference in garnering support for afterschool programs. The communication skills that I honed during my time as an Ambassador have served me well as I moved from a smaller afterschool system in West Virginia to a diverse metropolitan area in my latest role as an afterschool systems-builder in Montgomery County, Maryland, as a partner in Excel Beyond the Bell.
Dayna Krannawitter, Nebraska, 2007-08 Ambassador Class
The Afterschool Ambassadors program was a great experience and really made a difference in my career as an afterschool professional. It is so valuable to be connected to a group of colleagues across the country that is leveraging resources and partnerships, gathering data, and raising the bar for afterschool program quality. This leadership program gives all of us a critical voice in national, state, and local policies that impact our programs and continues to be a valuable resource in my work.
Marcel Braithwaite, New York, 2015-2016 Ambassador Class
Serving as an Afterschool Ambassador has been the greatest privilege in my 15 years of work in the youth development field. I have been able to make significant contributions to the field by promoting the importance of afterschool, particularly in highlighting the increasingly important role of the law enforcement community in out-of-school-time programming. As an Ambassador, my work with community-based organizations, corporations and government agencies has visibly increased support among young professionals for afterschool programs in New York City.
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