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

1616 H Street NW, Suite 820, Washington, D.C., 20006

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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, 15.1 million children take care of themselves after the school day ends, including almost four million middle school students in grades six to eight. Just 8.4 million children are in afterschool programs, but the parents of another 18 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 22,000 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 in 1990 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 as an Advisory Board Member of Time Warner Cable’s “Connect a Million Minds” campaign. Grant, her husband and two children live in Bethesda, Maryland.  

 

Melissa Ballard, STEM Manager

Melissa joined the Afterschool Alliance in October 2012, and works with the Vice President of STEM Policy to advance the organizations field-building and research efforts related to STEM in afterschool. Before coming to the Alliance, Melissa worked at a children's science center for over three years. During that time, she was responsible for developing a variety of STEM programs, training educators, and teaching students. Melissa has a background in industrial engineering and liberal studies, earning a B.S.E. and a B.G.S. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

 

Michael Burke, Grants Manager

Michael joined the Afterschool Alliance in 2013, where he helps to research, explore and cultivate funding opportunities from local, state and federal agencies, public corporations, and private foundations. He also conducts the full range of activities required to prepare and submit grant proposals as well as manage multiple grants. Michael came to the Afterschool Alliance from the Salvation Army’s Central Kentucky Services Area in Lexington, KY, where he served as Grant Writer and Development Officer in support of their Emergency Homeless Shelter & Transitional Living Center and Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club. Prior to his work with the Salvation Army, Michael served at United Way of the Bluegrass as Grant Writer, Project Manager for the Assets for Independence Individual Development Account Program, and Coordinator of the Get on Board Nonprofit Board of Director Training Program. Michael has a B.A. in History from the University of Kentucky and an M.A. in Church History/Theology from Lexington Theological Seminary.

 

Rachel Clark, Communications Associate

Rachel joined the Afterschool Alliance in January 2015, working to build the Alliance's outreach efforts through digital communications and advertising, and by developing materials to engage afterschool supporters in online awareness-building campaigns. Previously, she was an associate at Convergence Targeted Communications, working on digital and direct mail efforts for political campaigns. She also has experience working in legislative offices in New York State and on Capitol Hill, as well as in government relations at a national women's health nonprofit. Rachel graduated summa cum laude from Stony Brook University with a B.A. in Political Science.

 

Lindsay Damiano, Communications Assistant

Lindsay joined the Afterschool Alliance in June 2015. As the Communications Assistant, she helps execute communications initiatives through developing web resources and engaging with afterschool supporters through digital media. Lindsay also serves as the primary copy editor for the organization. Prior to joining the Afterschool Alliance, Lindsay worked with Senator Ron Wyden’s press team and with the national health care enrollment coalition Enroll America. She received a B.A. in Political Communication from the George Washington University and calls Portland, Oregon home. 

 

Bianka Ewers, Budget & Finance Coordinator

Bianka joined the Afterschool Alliance team in May 2015 as a Budget and Finance Coordinator. 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 worked as the Head of Financial Planning Department of a large healthcare facility group in Germany. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from University of Maryland University College.

 

Dan Gilbert, Associate

Dan joined the Afterschool Alliance in July 2014. As an associate, Dan works to advance the Alliance’s outreach and messaging efforts, and coordinates the Alliance’s efforts with partner organizations. Dan has experience working for Massachusetts state government, European Parliament, and political campaigns, and was most recently in 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.

 

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.

 

Anita Krishnamurthi, Vice President, STEM Policy

Anita Krishnamurthi joined the Afterschool Alliance in June 2010 as Director of STEM Policy after serving as the John Bahcall Public Policy Fellow for the American Astronomical Society. As Vice President of STEM Policy, Anita is responsible for creating and advancing federal, state and local opportunities and policies to expand resources and activities that provide students with access to a rich STEM curriculum in their afterschool programs. Anita brings nearly a decade of experience in science education and outreach to a wide variety of audiences to this role. Prior to her fellowship, she worked at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for six years, firstly as an Education and Public Outreach (EPO) Program Planning Specialist at NASA-HQ, and then as Lead for EPO in the Astrophysics Science Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Before joining NASA, Anita was a Program Officer at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. in the Office on Public Understanding of Science. Anita's formal training is as an astrophysicist, receiving her PhD from The Ohio State University. She conducted her postdoctoral work at the University of Colorado at Boulder.  

 

Jillian Luchner, Policy Associate

Jillian joined the Afterschool Alliance team as a Policy Associate in 2015. Her work involves tracking trends in afterschool policy and programs at the state and federal level and communicating successful and innovative approaches toward supporting youth during out-of-school time. Jillian worked for years as a teacher and afterschool educator in the Washington D.C region. She also served as an AmeriCorps VISTA and community development director in California’s Central Valley. She holds undergraduate degrees in Economics and Geology and a Master’s in Public Policy specializing in education from the University of Maryland at College Park.

 

 

 

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.

 

Sumika Petrowski, AmeriCorps VISTA Leader

Sumika joined the Afterschool Alliance in September 2014. As the AmeriCorps VISTA Leader, Sumika works with Afterschool Alliance AmeriCorps VISTA members throughout the United States to expand and sustain afterschool programing. Sumika has experience serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in Buffalo, N.Y., and has two years of experience working for the Flint, Michigan enrichment-based afterschool program YouthQuest.  Sumika has a B.A. in Family and Community Services from Michigan State University and a Master of Public Administration with a focus in nonprofit management from the University of Michigan. 

 

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.

 

Ed Spitzberg, Vice President, Development

Ed Spitzberg joined the Afterschool Alliance in February 2011, where he works with supporters of the afterschool field to provide the resources that the Afterschool Alliance needs to advance its mission. Ed came to the Afterschool Alliance from Sitar Arts Center, an award-winning afterschool program in Washington, D.C., where as Executive Director he led the organization through growth in number of young people served, local and national recognition including the National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Award, and fundraising. Prior to Sitar, he was Development Director at Arena Stage, the nation’s oldest regional nonprofit theater, and also was a product manager for Internet companies including Walt Disney Internet Group and Comedy World. Ed has taught the arts in afterschool programs for over a decade and is a performing artist himself, having created The Eddie Lounge Show in both San Francisco and the first two Capital Fringe Festivals in Washington, D.C. Ed has a B.A. in Ethics, Politics and Economics from Yale University and an M.B.A. from the Anderson School at UCLA. As a former leader of an afterschool program, Ed knows firsthand the challenges afterschool programs face and the benefits they provide our country’s youth and brings his passion for the field to the Afterschool Alliance.

 

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. 

 

Sarah Watson, Governance & Special Projects Associate

Sarah joined the Afterschool Alliance team in April 2013, after starting as an intern in fall 2012. As Governance & Special Projects Associate, she divides her time between coordinating board governance and operations, giving program and administrative support to the Executive Director, and leading projects related to community development and affordable housing-based learning initiatives. During the 2011-2012 academic year, Sarah served as an English Teaching Assistant with the U.S. Fulbright Program in Luxembourg. In her spare time, she volunteers with an affordable housing-based afterschool program in Adams Morgan and serves as vice president of the Fulbright Association's National Capital Area Chapter. Sarah recently earned her Certificate of Nonprofit Board Education from BoardSource, and she graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2011 with a B.A. in French and Urban Studies.

 

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.