Announcing NAA's 2018 Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders

The National AfterSchool Association (NAA), the lead organization for the advancement of the afterschool professional, has selected its 2018 Next Generation of Afterschool honorees.

The NAA sought to highlight emerging young leaders who are afterschool champions and believers in the power of afterschool. Young leaders who are active in the afterschool community and who are starting to design programs, professional development and other contributions that will influence their programs and organizations—with the potential to provide broad and long-term impact. From a field of 100, a committee appointed by NAA selected those being honored. Congratulations to CalSAC Trainer Cassandra Benton and Hada Guzman, and CalSAC Program Manager, Selena Levy, for being selected!

To view the digital version of AfterSchool Today and the complete list of next generation performers, click here. Each honoree was asked "What is the result you want to see, feel, and hear through your work in afterschool?" Here is what Cassandra, Hada, and Selena had to say:

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Program Coordinator, Health Initiatives For Youth

The program that I've had the pleasure of coordinating is called Leadership In Diversity. It focuses on youth leadership development and empowerment for middle and high school students. Through this program students look at their own various identities, explore how those identities relates to their community, and where that community fits on larger systems of oppression.

Through this work I'd like to see students grow as radical community allies. Sixth-graders who begin to think critically of which identities make them who they are. Seventh-graders who understand institutional oppression and what they can do about it. Eighth-graders who are school advocates and bring attention to students' needs. Freshmen who lead assembly on the importance of social-emotional health in communities of color. Each year will grow stronger and bigger, as students advance in their education and community work.

My goal is to SUPPORT THE NEXT GENERATION OF PEER EDUCATORS, FORUM LEADERS, HEALTH WORKERS, POLICY REBELS AND PARENTS. The end result is an “each one teach one” generation of self-advocacy and social change that all started from an afterschool program that encouraged celebrating differences and self-empowerment.


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Program Manager, Girls Inc. of Alameda County

My dad, in his broken "Spanglish," has a saying: "Open la door o me brinco por la window." Meaning: "Open the door or I'll jump through the window." He has used this personal saying throughout his life, every time a door has closed in front of him. This simple and humorous, yet profound saying has taken a deeper meaning in my life. There is always another way to reaching your goals.

As I train, my goal is to BUILD EMPATHY WHILE EXPLORING DEVELOPMENTALLY, CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE AND TRAUMA-SENSITIVE SUPPORTS FOR OUR YOUTH. I strive to prepare my team and staff to become allies for our youth. For me this comes from constant learning, training, and professional development. As our youth, communities and politics change, we work to become a safe support system for them. Once the teams' skills and tool set have developed in the field, we are able to focus on our youth and build trust and rapport, making them feel safe and engaged. This enhances the learning process.  They are able to learn STEAM, find their voice, explore social activism, communication skills, develop healthy relationships, start career and college exploration, and see themselves in a new light.

This success level is just the beginning. Once we have a successful program, the development cycle for our afterschool program staff continues to grow and specialize into a unique set of skills and abilities. At the end of the day, I want to see these young girls filled with pride when they realize that they are capable of reaching far higher goals than what the odds against them are. I want staff to be successful in this entire process, and to be prepared for the next challenge.



Program Manager, California School-Age Consortium

I WANT TO HEAR OUT-OF-SCHOOL TIME STAFF SAY THEY FEEL VALUED AND SUPPORTED BECAUSE OF MY WORK. I want to feel that staff are empowered to lead their programs and their staff. I want to hear staff say they have the confidence and tools they need to be successful with their youth and in their life. I want to see out-of-school time staff receive the national recognition they deserve for all their hard work and for the impact they have on young people.