Meet the Fellows

Jenna Andrews

Jenna Andrews is the Program Director for Beyond the Bell- a program powered by Siouxland Human Investment Partnerships (SHIP), and a collaboration of 25 locations spanning three different school districts, and two states to provide quality before and after school experiences. Jenna has always had a passion for working with children.

Before joining Beyond the Bell, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Wayne State College and began her career in a non-profit child development center working with children from birth through age 5. From there she was given the opportunity to transition to school aged care, and for the last nine years has used her background and experience both professionally, and personally while growing her own family, to help guide and drive her work.

Justin Artenant

Justin is a dynamic millennial Non-Profit Administrator who whole-heartedly believes in providing in-depth educational resources for students in underrepresented areas. Justin currently resides in Newark, New Jersey where he is currently in constant conversation with the local community to help provide guidance in this age of educational reform. Justin is asked to present at different conferences and professional development sessions to aid in the development of the after-school professionals in the state of New Jersey and abroad. In his full-time role as, Senior Manager of Newark Thrives of The United Way of Greater Newark, Justin is the administrative lead for this network that uses out of school time practices to better the lives of the students of the city of Newark and beyond. More recently, Justin was selected to join the eleventh annual class of the White- Riley- Peterson Policy fellowship. Justin also owns and operates “Artenant Consultant Group L.L.C.”

Justin is a passionate leader in the community service sector. Justin is a proud member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated. In this organization he currently serves in three capacities. He is the Vice President of his chapter, the Iota Chi Sigma Chapter which serves in the Monmouth and Ocean County area. He also serves as the New Jersey State Director of Education. Lastly, and most recently, Justin was appointed as the International Emergency Management/ Preparedness Committee Chairman. Justin utilizes these platforms to draw attention to issues that impact his community directly.

Justin has a goal of changing the way that the world examines, interacts with, and understands the black man. He is certain that this change will start with the young black men that he interacts with in his community. It is of the utmost importance to Justin that his future sons are able to walk in a world comfortably and will be afforded the opportunity to be unapologetically them.

Stephanie Barker

Stephanie has been a member of the KYOSA (Kentucky Out-of-School Alliance) team since 2019. In her current role, Stephanie oversees and advances the network’s research and data agenda, including developing data visualization and communications tools to share the story of out-of-school time in Kentucky. She is also over KYOSA’s newly-formed School-Age Child Care Advisory Council, the purpose of which is to provide guidance to the network, regulatory agencies, and other key decision-makers on matters related to school-age child care in Kentucky.

Prior to joining the KYOSA team, Stephanie worked on numerous research and grant evaluation projects and served the out-of-school time field as an AmeriCorps volunteer with the Afterschool Alliance and Partners for Education at Berea College. Stephanie graduated Magna Cum Laude from Middle Tennessee State University, where she studied political science and music, and holds an M.S. in Social and Philosophical Studies of Education from the University of Kentucky, with an emphasis in rural educational access and opportunity. As a 2022 White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellow, Stephanie looks forward to advancing policy changes aimed at expanding access to school-age child care and fee-based extended learning opportunities for low-income families in Kentucky.

Sonja Beasley-Hall

Sonja L. Beasley-Hall, M.Ed., M. ET., the Network Engagement Manager with MASP is a double graduate of Central Michigan University (Fire Up Chips!) who truly believes in sharing her love for education. As Sonja pursues her Educational Doctorate in leadership, she often finds herself sharing her favorite educational quote by Confucius that says, “If your plan is for 1 year, plant rice. If your plan is for 10 years, plant trees. If your plan is for 100 years, educate children.”

Throughout her 25 plus years working in the field of education and grant based program management she has developed a passion for STEM, the development of youth voice and parent resources, and overall assuring that there is equitable access for those who are underserved. Sonja believes Out-of-School time programs are the perfect platform to advocate for the empowerment of our youth resulting in stronger citizenship. Out-of-School time programs and youth empowerment are collectively her number one priority.

Cody Buchanan

Cody is an OST Programs and Partnership Specialist at the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), working closely with the 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant program. In this role, Cody supports program quality and compliance among 21st CCLC grantees to ensure high-impact programming at centers across the state. He is a content specialist in the areas of service-learning and positive youth development, and regularly provides trainings and consultations on these topics.

Prior to his work at CDE, he spent 5 years managing a neighborhood center based in a Denver middle school, which focused on providing high-quality OST programs and wrap-around supports to a historically underserved community. Cody grew up in Pueblo, Colorado and graduated from the University of Illinois. He lives in Denver with wife and two children. His favorite book is A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson and his favorite movie is Stand by Me. He’s an avid skier, and loves hiking, travelling, spending time with his family and rooting along his hometown sports teams.

Annette Dawson Owens

Annette is a lifelong advocate for improving education outcomes for students in Nevada. A scholar who has studied high performing schools across the country, as well as completed several prestigious fellowships and leadership trainings here locally, Annette is committed to ensuring every child has access to a high-quality education. Annette has been an educator in both district and charter schools over the last 25 years and currently serves as the School Readiness Policy Director with the Children’s Advocacy Alliance. She, along with the CAA worked to support 81 bills this last legislative session, 73 of which went on to passage.

Annette was appointed by Henderson’s past two mayors to serve, since its inception on Henderson’s Community Education Advisory Board. She also serves on two local charter school boards, the Boy Scouts of America board, a Title One Committee, My Brother’s Keeper Educational Equity Task Force, and works in various capacities with the Early Childhood Advisory Commission in Nevada and Nevada Afterschool Network. Annette holds a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from UNLV and a master’s de- gree in administrative leadership from SNU. She is the mother of six boys and in her spare time loves to explore nature and the great outdoors.

Jed Dews

Jed has been a natural project manager since the 5th grade when he offered his teacher (unsolicited) logistical improvement ideas for the class field trip. That early knack for detail and organization led to a career in the administration of complex projects and nonprofit leadership as well as a passion for high-quality, data-driven services that allow children, youth, and families to thrive. As a part of the team at Voices for Georgia’s Children, Jed is part of the Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network division and oversees the BOOST grants initiative, managing the American Rescue Plan investments in Georgia’s afterschool and summer learning programs. In collaboration with his colleagues and Voices’ statewide partners, Jed provides oversight of these critical federal funds and supports grantees in their efforts to expand access to services, reduce barriers to success, and increase programmatic quality.

Prior to joining Voices, Jed provided executive leadership to a nationally recognized nonprofit focused on residential and community-based services for youth experiencing foster care and homelessness. He has also worked as a high school language arts teacher, a project manager for a prominent e-learning company, and a freelance consultant specializing in nonprofit accreditation and public-private partnerships. Jed holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Alabama in education with a focus on policy and youth advocacy. He also holds graduate certifications in project management (University of Texas) and social work (University of South Carolina Upstate). When not working, Jed’s favorite things include being an uncle, dueling pianos, ATV parks, deer stands, and lake life.

Loren Farmer

Loren Farmer is a Program Coordinator with the West Virginia Statewide Afterschool Network through the West Virginia University Extension Service. The West Virginia Statewide Afterschool Network is one of 50 state networks funded in part by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. As part of the 50 State Afterschool Network, the West Virginia Statewide Afterschool Network (WVSAN) works to foster partnerships and policies to develop, support, and sustain high-quality afterschool opportunities for children and youth. In her role with the WVSAN, Loren helps lead Network efforts around substance misuse prevention and program quality.

Prior to joining the Network, Loren served nine years as the Executive Director of the Bob Burdette Center, a small, non-profit organization that operates afterschool and summer programming for school-age youth in Charleston, WV. Loren holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from West Virginia University and a Master of Arts degree in Urban Studies from Eastern University. Two of Loren’s favorite books are Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Currently, some of Loren’s favorite movies include Dumplin’ and Troop Zero. Loren loves anything that allows her to spend time with her husband, Michael Farmer, who shares her passion for youth development, their daughter, Naomi, and their goddaughters.

Desmond Keller

Desmond graduated with dual degrees in Elementary Education and Special Education. He is the oldest of five children and worked at a Montessori Daycare in highschool and really liked the non-traditional approach to education. After graduating from college and teaching Special Education for a year, he had the opportunity to begin working in a 21st Century Program and never looked back! In his position as director, the day-to-day is always different, but mainly consists of keeping up-to-date on licensing for all of the programs–from hiring staff to documenting training hours to continually engaging with families and staff. The fun part is socializing with the students and watching them relax and have fun in the after school programs.

Desmond loves that we never know what little thing we will do that a student will remember and say later was a game changer for them in their life. It really isn’t the subjects that we teach, it’s building the relationships and guiding those relationships to build character in students that really is exciting for Desmond. When he’s not at work, he enjoys running, mountain biking, and snowboarding to be active. He also enjoys fishing, reading, and gardening to relax.

Miriam Krause

Miriam Krause has spent over fifteen years helping children and adults find joy in learning by asking and answering their own questions. She is currently the Out of School Time Professional Learning and Instruction Coordinator at Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool Youth Development Network where she is responsible for supporting the field by disseminating best practices, connecting programs to resources, and advocating at the local, state, and national levels.

Miriam has extensive experience in informal science education, working in museums to create exhibits, programs, and professional development that expand the learners ideas about science. When Miriam is not doing science she can be found gardening, making jam, and playing board games. Miriam holds both a Bachelors and Masters degree in Early Childhood Education.

Leslye Lugo

Leslye Lugo is the Data and Research Program Specialist for the California AfterSchool Network (CAN). Before joining the CAN team, Leslye supported BIPOC Transitional Age Youth (TAY) who were working in the field of expanded learning and seeking to become public school teachers, counselors, and social workers for the San Francisco Unified School District. At the same time, Leslye was a part of the lead agency for the San Francisco Educator Pathway Coalition (SFEPC) and helped inform this network of community-based organizations and educational institutions by bringing to the surface the barriers that TAY workers were experiencing. Leslye has also previously served as a Site Coordinator and Camp Director for a middle school program in San Francisco and knows firsthand how crucial it is to create a clear educator pipeline for youth workers in the expanded learning field.

For 15+ years, Leslye has served youth and families through advocacy work and direct service. She believes it is important to provide adequate resources to the expanded learning field, so that young people can have access to high quality programs and youth workers can have thriving careers. Leslye just became a mom for the first time to baby Yajaira. She loves books by Octavia Butler, enjoys crime podcasts, and visiting beaches on the west coast.

Chloe Anne McElligott

Chloe Anne McElligott started as the Director of Outreach at the Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership (MAP) in October 2021. Chloe serves as the principal liaison with afterschool and summer programs and educators to advance advocacy and policy initiatives with local, state, and federal agencies for the benefit of children, youth and families, and is responsible for implementing a comprehensive communications strategy across advocacy and out of school time education efforts for the benefit of children, youth, and families.

Prior to working at MAP, she graduated from the Boston University School of Social Work with her Masters of Social Work in Macro Practice, where she specialized in practice with Children, Youth, & Families. Her prior work experience includes racial justice and equity work with the Southern Jamaica Plain Center’s Health Promotion Center, education and public safety policy tracking and research with former Boston City Councilor Andrea J. Campbell’s policy team, and as a paralegal at an immigration law firm with a focus on family petitions and asylum seekers.

In her spare time, Chloe loves to write songs and is finishing her first EP! While she can’t pick a favorite book of all time (there are too many good ones to choose from!), her favorites from this year include Go Tell it On the Mountain by James Baldwin and All About Love: New Visions by Bell Hooks. Her favorite movies she watched this year were Roman Holiday (1953) and Summer of Soul (2021).

Lili Murphy

Lili Murphy is the Executive Director of the Florida Afterschool Network where she leads a team of three and manages a diverse council of stakeholders. With more than a decade in the early learning and out-of-school time sector, she excels in program development, quality improvement, and grant administration. Lili thrives on bringing people together around common goals and increasing efficiencies.

Before joining the Network in February 2022, Lili served as the statewide assistant director for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program at the Florida Department of Education, as well as held several positions with Help Me Grow Florida. In her free time, Lili serves on the board for the Guardian ad Litem Foundation for Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit.

Jennifer Patronas

Jen is the CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs-Alaska (BGC-AK). BGC-AK has 23 clubhouses across the state with 15 of them not connected to the road system due to the unique landscape of Alaska. Jen has a passion for positive youth development and the role it plays in closing the opportunity gap. Before transitioning to her current role, Jen served as the Senior Director of Healthcare Services for Anchorage School District, one of the largest school districts in the United States. With a mission-focus, she ensured the safety and well-being of over 50,000 staff and students during a global pandemic. An integral portion of her job was to ensure all children have equitable access to healthcare and providing support to families in under-served communities.

Jen holds several associate degrees from the Community College of the Air Force as well as a Master of Business Administration from Saint Leo University. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Business Administration at Saint Leo University. Jen’s favorite book is Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson and favorite movie is the original Wizard of Oz.

Michele Ritchlin

Michele is the Executive Director of the Ohio Afterschool Network where she supports expanded learning by delivering best practices and resources to Afterschool and Summer Learning professionals in the state of Ohio. Michele also advocates for sustained funding for expanded learning at the federal, state and local levels. Michele has worked in the afterschool field since 2008 and has a BA in International Studies from the Ohio State University. She lives with her partner James and their two cats Ilsa and Matilda in the Arena District in Columbus, Ohio. Michele enjoys being a Rotarian, running, traveling, craft beer, and Jeni’s ice cream.

Kelly Schultz

Kelly Schultz is the Director of the Policy and Partnerships for the Missouri State Alliance of YMCAs. Previously she was the Child Advocate for the State of Missouri for ten years and has spent 23 years working in the Missouri State Capitol. Kelly and her husband are foster/adoptive parents and have helped to raise 18 children throughout the years and have six grandchildren. Kelly received her undergraduate degree in Political Science and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Missouri.

Gabby Schwartz

Gabby currently works at the New York State Network for Youth Success as a Policy Coordinator where she supports the policy department in crafting policy recommendations and collaborating with critical stakeholders to respond to the needs of the New York’s afterschool field. Gabby holds a Master of Public Administration from Rockefeller College of Public Policy & Affairs, and a Bachelor’s degree in History and Public Administration from Oakland University. Reading and watching movies are two of Gabby’s favorite activities, her favorite book is I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak and her favorite movie is Little Miss Sunshine. She also enjoys going on nature walks with her dog.

Samecia Stokes

Dr. Samecia Stokes is the Executive Director of Innovative Strategy for Jackson Public Schools. She is an experienced educational leader with a demonstrated history of working in K-12 and higher education settings. Within JPS, she has served as a teacher, assistant principal, summer school principal, summer bridge coordinator, JPS Literacy Roadmap editor, A3 Summer Camp principal, feeder pattern lead, and JPS Rockstar. At Belhaven University, she has served as a module writer, teacher mentor, educational leadership internship supervisor, and adjunct professor for US and China students.

Dr. Stokes holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Education/Emphasis in School Administration from Mississippi State University, a Master of Science in Educational Leadership and Supervision from Jackson State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Tougaloo College. She holds national recognition as an Andrew Mellon fellow and recipient of the S.D. Shankland educator award from AASA (American Association for School Administrators.) She is a member of New Hope Baptist Church.

Tracye Strichik

For more than 25 years, Dr. Strichik has enjoyed the opportunity to serve children and their families in the classroom, through collaboration with school systems, state and federal government, higher education, business, and community partners. Prior to joining the Alabama Expanded Learning Alliance, she was the Director of the Alabama Reading Initiative at the Alabama State Department of Education, Alabama’s First Class Pre-K Director, and the Senior Director at the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, where she led departmental efforts and coordinated all aspects of research and program evaluation and oversaw professional learning and efforts concerning Higher Education.

She is a graduate of Auburn University, Auburn University Montgomery, and The University of Alabama Birmingham. In 2015 she was honored to have been chosen as an Early Childhood Leadership Fellow by the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes.