Our team

Our team is made up of awesome individuals who are passionate about afterschool

We serve as a unifier of the field and seek to enhance all afterschool providers, practitioners and advocates by nurturing an educated and engaged public in support of their efforts.

Washington, D.C. Headquarters

1101 14th St NW Suite 700, Washington, D.C. 20005

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Jodi Grant, Executive Director

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 on the Steering Committee of the Coalition for Community Schools.  Grant, her husband and two children live in Bethesda, Maryland. She moonlights as a spin instructor at a local gym. 

 

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 Gilbert joined the Afterschool Alliance in July 2014. As Project Manager, Dan directs the Alliance's work around social and emotional learning (SEL), works to advance the Alliance’s outreach and messaging efforts, manages the Alliance's webinar offerings, coordinates 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.

 

Erin Hegarty, Special Assistant to the Executive Director

Erin joined the Afterschool Alliance team in August 2018. As the Special Assistant to the Executive Director, she gives program and administrative support to the Executive Director. Erin graduated from the College of William & Mary in May 2018 with a B.A. in American Studies and a minor in History. During her undergraduate career, she volunteered with an afterschool tutoring and mentorship program in a local subsidized housing community.

 

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 Manager   

Jillian Luchner joined the Afterschool Alliance in 2015. As the Policy Manager, she identifies policy trends and best practice across states and districts in achieving equitable, high-quality, accessible afterschool and summer opportunities for youth. In her work, she has mapped all 50 state ESSA plans identifying holistic opportunities for students and works on needs assessments inclusive of positive youth development. Jillian has her Master's in Public Policy specializing in Education from the University of Maryland College Park and a degree in Economics from the University of Rochester. Prior to her policy work, Jillian taught 9th grade algebra in a Title I high school and worked as an afterschool and summer educator. 

 

Rina Moss, Project Associate

Rina joined the Afterschool Alliance in September 2018 to help provide support for the national AmeriCorps VISTA projects as well as to contribute to research efforts in the afterschool field. Prior to joining the Alliance, Rina worked for a number of education-related community partnership programs in West Philadelphia and as an AmeriCorps member for the “Pathways to Success” Program at United Way Heart of Florida. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and a master’s degree in the International Relations of the Middle East and the Arabic Language from the University of Edinburgh. 

 

Chris Neitzey, Director of STEM Initiatives

Chris Neitzey joined the Afterschool Alliance in August 2018 as the Director of STEM Initiatives. In this role, Chris works to advance federal, state, and local policy to expand access to high-quality afterschool and summer STEM programming. Prior to joining the Afterschool Alliance, Chris led the policy and advocacy work of the New York State Network for Youth Success, New York’s statewide afterschool network. Chris also worked for the Maryland Science Center prior to his work in New York, delivering STEM programs to students in-school and in afterschool programs across the mid-Atlantic region. Chris holds a bachelor’s degree in Geography from Towson University and a master’s in Nonprofit Management from Northeastern University. 

 

Marisa Paipongna, Field Outreach Assistant

Marisa joined the Afterschool Alliance team in October 2017 to help recruit, support, and measure the work accomplished by AmeriCorps VISTA members who are building capacity in afterschool settings. Prior to joining the Alliance, Marisa worked with the USDA Rural Development California State Office, the School Health Initiative Program, and the College of William & Mary’s Office of Health Promotion. She graduated from the College of William & Mary with a B.S. in Kinesiology with a concentration in Public Health, and a minor in Sociology. 

 

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.

 

Faith Savaiano, Communications Associate

Faith joined the Afterschool Alliance in August 2017 to coordinate the communications team’s digital media, as well as provide communications and outreach support across the organization. Prior to joining the Afterschool Alliance, Faith was at Washington public affairs agency Powell Tate, where she supported the Social Impact group’s client work with nonprofits, foundations, government agencies, and corporate social responsibility programs. Previously, Faith also worked for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs and AidData, an international development research lab. Faith received her B.A. in International Relations with a minor in Economics from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA.

 

Leah Silverberg, STEM Specialist

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.

 

Nikki Yamashiro, Director of Research 

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, Vice President, Finance & Administration

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.