Leaders across all 50 states are working together to grow and strengthen afterschool and expanded learning programs as the country’s educational gap widens due to the pandemic.

The Riley Institute at Furman University has selected 16 leaders in the field of afterschool and expanded learning to participate in the White-Riley-Peterson (WRP) Policy Fellowship. In its ninth year, the program gained a fellow from its 50th state, Delaware, and is now 137 fellows strong.

Due to COVID-19, the new class of WRP Fellows will participate in an entirely virtual program for the first time in the fellowship’s history. While the annual kickoff cannot be held in person this year, former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley says the value of afterschool and expanded learning programs is as clear as ever.

Uzma Azhar

Policy and Outreach Manager
Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network (Atlanta, GA)

For her policy project, Uzma is working to connect afterschool and summer learning programs to other education or youth-related issues through research and coalitions to expand the reach of the field to more sectors and increase resources available to programs. She is also working to help afterschool and summer programs access American Rescue Plan funding for expansion.

Erin Busk:

21st CCLC Grant Specialist
Indiana Department of Education (Indianapolis, IN)

Erin has served as a 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant Specialist with the Indiana Department of Education since 2017. Before transitioning into her current role, Erin spent more than a decade serving the after school community in Indianapolis through direct programming and organizational leadership. Her youth-centered experience is primarily with high-school aged youth, specifically those impacted by the juvenile justice system. Erin holds a Master’s degree from Indiana University-Indianapolis in Public Affairs with a focus on Policy Analysis. She is also an alumni of AmeriCorps National Service, serving with both the Neighborhood Afterschool Corps and Public Allies Indianapolis. For her policy project, Erin is working to compile data from statewide agencies and intermediary organizations to create a Salary Report in an effort to show the monetized need for increased staff salaries and the overall connection between staff retention and quality programming.

Ryan Davis

UA Little Rock Children International (Little Rock, AR)

Ryan is the director of UALR-Children International, an International non-profit organization that works toward significant and transformational change in the lives of children, youth and families. UALR-Children International serves more than 3,000 children and youth in Central Arkansas. Ryan Davis is a native of Little Rock, Arkansas. Davis is an advocate for children, who represent the only future we have. He subscribes to the proverb “Plant a tree under whose shade you will never sit.” Ryan Davis is an ordained elder in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Associate Pastor at Bullock Temple C.M.E. Church. He is the grateful husband of Kimberly King Davis and the proud father of Delaney Davis (10), Sarah Davis (8), and Ella Davis (5). For his policy project, Ryan is working to advocate at the legislative level for the appropriation of funds for the Positive Youth Development (PYD) funding stream, and an included incentives for public child and youth serving entities (schools, public libraries, municipal community centers) that partners with private and non-profit child and youth serving out-of-school programs.

Edward Franklin

Voice of Hope Ministries (Dallas, TX)

Edward has 30 years of experience in faith-based out-of-school-time programming in underserved, urban communities. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Temple University, a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Religious Counseling from Westminster Theological Seminary. He has had the privilege of leading Voice of Hope Ministries in Dallas, Texas for 16 years. He is passionate about his work, the value of out- of- school time programming and dedicated to providing the children of West Dallas and other underserved communities in Texas with strong character models, education support, life skills, and family support services needed to become productive Christian citizens. For his policy project, Edward is encouraging the state of Texas, through connecting with state elected leaders and working with the regional Out of School Time (OST) intermediaries to incentivize school districts with Title 1 schools to partner with local, community-based out-of-school-time programs in an effort to bridge the gap between the intent and enactment of family engagement/parent involvement policies outlined in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Tom Haggard

Kentucky Out of School Alliance (Covington, KY)

Tom has been working with afterschool and summer learning programs from the time he was 16 years old. Since that time, he has risen through the ranks from youth worker to Site Coordinator and all the way up to Associate Director, where he oversaw multiple afterschool and summer learning programs that served over 2,500 students annually. Tom has presented at local, state and national conferences on a variety of topics around out of school time programming. He has served on the Kentucky Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers State Advisory Council, currently as co-chair. During the 2017-2018 school year, he was chosen as one of fifteen Afterschool Ambassadors from around the country by the Afterschool Alliance. For his policy project, Tom is working to develop a Future Workforce Coalition to educate and enable private businesses to partner with Out of School Time (OST) across Kentucky to provide real and meaningful work experiences by connecting with Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, local career center and local Chambers of Commerce to design a toolkit.

Natalie Hampton

Policy Coordinator
Missouri AfterSchool Network (Columbia, MO)

During seven years as a health communication specialist, Natalie developed and implemented strategic communication plans to effectively promote health behavior to underserved populations and health policy to policy makers. As a former campaign professional, she organized campaign events, recruited volunteers and trained organizers and local activists. She has been the policy coordinator for Missouri Afterschool Network since March 2020 and is excited to continue empowering advocates, both at the Network and as a local community activist. For her policy project, Natalie building upon the work of a previous White-Riley-Peterson (WRP) fellow, expanding the Missouri Afterschool Network Ambassador program to engage new legislators in the quest to enact legislation to augment 21st Century Learning Community (21CCLC) funding. A Republican senator has requested a legislative proposal that will be presented summer 2021.

Brent Holsinger

President and Founder
On the Road Collaborative (Harrisonburg, VA)

Brent has made a career of being a champion for young people inspired by his AmeriCorps service with City Year Boston. After serving as an educator and administrator for City Year, Citizen Schools and 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Brent founded and currently serves as president of On the Road Collaborative, a youth empowerment 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He received his Master’s Degree in Education in Out-of-School Learning & Facilitative Leadership from Lesley University and Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Richmond. Brent also served a four year term (2015-2018) on the Harrisonburg City School Board. Brent is married to his wife, Laura Toni-Holsinger, and has two children, Lucy (7) and Myles (4). For his policy project, Brent is working to complete a needs assessment and infographic to demonstrate the need for affordable high-speed broadband access for Out of School Time (OST) programs in Virginia in an effort for it to be used to advocate for increased access and funding for the field.

Jennifer Masutani

Program Director
Hawaii Afterschool Alliance (Honolulu, HI)

Jenn serves as a Program Director for the Hawai’i Afterschool Alliance (HAA), working to ensure that all children in Hawai’i have access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs. Jennifer joined HAA in February 2020 and supports their summer learning, youth entrepreneurship, and professional development work. Prior to working at HAA, Jenn worked for the Coalition for Community Schools at the Institute for Educational Leadership, advocating for and supporting the quality of community schools across the country. There she led two peer-learning networks, the Community School Coordinators Network and the United Way Community School Learning Community, and led the conference planning team for two Community School National Forums. Jennifer is eager to pursue a career that fights for equity for all students within our education and youth-serving systems. For her policy project, Jenn is working to establish a statewide coalition for community schools in Hawaii in an effort to support the growth and quality of community schools through policy, advocacy, and capacity building.

Ayana Melvin

Senior Project Manager Educational Initiatives and Lead for Rhode Island Afterschool Network
United Way of Rhode Island (Westerly, RI)

Ayana is the Senior Project Manager for Educational Initiatives and the Lead for the Rhode Island Afterschool Network at United Way of Rhode Island. Mrs. Melvan started working with youth programming and community development, by helping at risk youth become exposed to opportunities outside of their normal learning and neighborhoods, when she was a young person at a day camp in her hometown, as a counselor in training. She has helped design, run, and advocate for youth programming, outside of the school day that impacts young people and their families, for over 20 years. For her policy project, Ayana is working to end the school to prison pipeline for Black, indigenous, people of color, that are youth with funding afterschool and summer programs in an effort to help eradicate the juvenile justice system using prevention and community based programs.

Ryan Page

Child Care Regulatory Program Manager & Team Lead of the Child Care Bureau
Iowa Department of Human Services (Des Moines, IA)

Ryan is the Child Care Regulatory Program Manager and Team Lead of the Child Care Bureau with the Department of Human Services. One of her main duties is to assess and implement Federal and State policy requirements for licensed child care providers throughout the State. Ryan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Iowa State University and a Masters of Criminal Justice from St. Ambrose University. Ryan completed the Certified Public Manager Program at Drake University in 2018. Ryan has over 15 years of experience in the social services field and has worked for the Department for 12 years in child welfare and child care services. Ryan is a member of the Early Childhood Governance, Planning, and Administration Committee, the Early Childhood Iowa Steering Committee, State Child Care Advisory Committee, and the Iowa Afterschool Alliance’s Strategic Leadership Team. For her policy project, Ryan is working to continue support for before and afterschool programming under child care licensing and regulation in Iowa and engage with the Iowa Afterschool Alliance in an effort to build connections and bridging gaps between programs, advocates, and policymakers.

Regina Sidney-Brown

Delaware Afterschool Network (Wilmington DE)

Regina is both driven and passionate about her calling to serve children, youth, families, and communities. With over 30 years’ experience, her pursuits have been primarily in the field of non-profit where she has focused on positive youth development as well as training and technical assistance for community based organizations. She provides organizational development and capacity building support to youth serving nonprofit organizations in areas related to developing, measuring, improving, and achieving outcomes. Regina has served as a leader in the non-profit sector managing several programs as a senior family service case manager, senior student academic advisor, social service and parent involvement coordinator, training and technical assistant coordinator, quality improvement manager, and financial empowerment coach to director. For her policy project, Regina is working to develop and maintain a centralized data system for collecting and storing operational information for extended learning programs.

Emma Spencer

Youth Development Associate
Afterschool for Children and Teens Now (ACT Now) Coalition (Chicago, IL)

Emma is a New York native currently living in Chicago, Illinois. Emma holds a BA from Lafayette College in International Affairs and a minor in Spanish. Currently, she is the Youth Development Associate for the Afterschool for Children and Teens Now (ACT Now) Coalition, the statewide afterschool network for Illinois. She is a key member of the ACT Now staff, leading the organization’s communications efforts, facilitating membership engagement, and supports the coalition’s policy and advocacy initiatives. Emma has advocated for equity in and access to youth-focused educational and expanded-learning opportunities by facilitating youth development programming throughout her life. She has diverse experiences with supporting youth across a wide spectrum of activities in the United States and abroad. From her internship with Covenant House International in New York City, which provides essential services to homeless youth, to her time in Guatemala City, teaching math and English to students in an underserved locale, these experiences have solidified her passion for advocacy. Most recently, in November 2019, Emma completed her Peace Corps Service in Peru, where she collaborated with local governmental agencies, community-based organizations, and youth to develop an afterschool program based on positive youth outcomes and environmental competencies. For her policy project, Emma is working to advance ACT Now’s state-level initiative in an effort to expand the number of community schools in Illinois and secure a funding specifically for the holistic model in the state.

John Unger II

Senator / Rev. / President of GRaCE Company
West Virginia Senate / GRaCE – Greater Recovery and Community Empowerment (Harpers Ferry, WV)

As someone who has found the joy in helping others and advocating for children and youth, John Unger has committed his life to being a public servant-leader and bringing together his many experiences in theology and public life. Unger is currently serving as a West Virginia state senator representing Berkeley and Jefferson counties in West Virginia. Unger was first elected to the West Virginia Senate in 1998 at the age of 28 – making him one of the youngest elected state senators in West Virginia history. He is currently the pastor of the three historic Harpers Ferry Civil War churches: St. John Lutheran Church, Camp Hill – Wesley United Methodist Church, and the priest of St. John’s Episcopal Church. This is the first ministry in the nation where a pastor is serving three different denominations (Lutheran, United Methodist, and Episcopal) at the same time. For his project, John is working with the West Virginia Afterschool Network to help students access resources that will improve youth mental health and well-being.

Malia Villarreal

Project Manager
California Teaching Fellows Foundation (Fresno, CA)

Malia has worked in the expanded learning field for over six years at the California Teaching Fellows Foundation where she has worked on a plethora of projects and strategic initiatives. She has graduated over 100 college interns in an innovative pipeline that yields talent and champions of the out-of-school time field in California’s San Joaquin Valley, led the agency in their year-long strategic planning process and five-year implementation strategy, and has built relationships with local, state, and federal elected officials, multi sector stakeholders, and community influencers to promote after school programs and the California Teaching Fellows model in the San Joaquin Valley and beyond. For her policy project she is working to discover alternative pathways to teacher credentialing and expanding the teacher pipeline in an effort to develop partnerships with afterschool programs.

Steven Williams

Leadership Research Analyst
PA House of Representatives (Harrisburg, PA)

Steven is an avid traveler first and foremost. He loves to visit different countries and cultures with his wife and/or siblings. In addition to traveling, he loves to write science fiction and fantasy stories. Professionally, Steven is a Research Analyst for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and a School Board Director for the Harrisburg City School District. He started with the House in 2013 and has worked on legislation as varied as a natural gas severance tax, to a school suspension and expulsion moratorium. In 2019, he was elected to serve as a School Board Director and in that role advocated for increased after school opportunities and trauma informed care within the district. For his policy project, Steven is working with the Joint State Government Commission, they sought to determine a return on investment (ROI) for afterschool programming in Pennsylvania in an effort advocate for a state investment, in the form of a line item.