About Us

Our Staff
  • Betsy Brand

    Executive Director

    Betsy Brand has served as the Executive Director of AYPF since 2004, and she served as Co-Director of the organization since 1998. Betsy has spent her career working on education, workforce, and youth policy and specializes in comprehensive approaches to helping young people be prepared for today’s careers, lifelong learning, and civic engagement. She leads the policy work, strategic management, fundraising, and talent development efforts at AYPF.

    Betsy’s education policy career started when she served as a Legislative Associate for the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor from 1977 to 1983. She subsequently served with Senator Dan Quayle as a Professional Staff Member on the U.S. Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee from 1983 to 1989, where she handled all federal education and training legislation. In 1989, Betsy was appointed Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education, under President George H.W. Bush, where she worked for four years. From 1993 to 1998, Betsy operated her own consulting firm, Workforce Futures, Inc., which focused on policy and best practices affecting education and workforce preparation. Betsy has a B.A. from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA and serves on various boards, including the Latin American Youth Center.

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  • Leslie Byford

    Communications Strategy Associate

    Leslie joined AYPF in 2017. As the Communications Strategy Associate, Leslie manages AYPF’s communications strategy and implementation. Prior to joining AYPF, Leslie worked as a Senior Consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton on government communications campaigns in addition to conference and training programs, utilizing both her writing and editorial skills as well as project task management experience.

    Leslie is a native Washingtonian and is a product of DC Public Schools. She brings more than 9 years of progressive experience in broadcast journalism, marketing and communications to AYPF. Leslie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism as well as a certificate in International Relations from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a Master’s degree in Broadcast Communications from American University.

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  • Loretta Goodwin, Ph.D.

    Deputy Director

    Loretta Goodwin, Deputy Director, joined the American Youth Policy Forum in 2007. Her focus is on high school reform and college access and success.  She oversees study tours and speaker forums on youth policy issues, and contributes to the organizational leadership and strategy of the organization. Ms. Goodwin is experienced in middle and high school reform, experiential education, and international education.

    In South Africa, Ms. Goodwin began her education career as a middle and high school teacher. At The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars in Washington, DC she served as the program manager for international programs, as well as the faculty coordinator. From 2000 – 2004, she worked as the national co-director of Turning Points, a comprehensive middle school reform initiative. In this capacity, and during her work at the Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement, she provided technical assistance, professional development and resources to teachers,  principals, and district leaders. Ms. Goodwin holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Cape Town, master’s degrees from Wesleyan University and the University of Washington, in History and Political Science, and a PhD from Princeton.

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  • Jessica Kannam

    Policy Associate

    Jesse joined AYPF in January 2017. Jesse holds a Bachelor’s degree in American Studies, and a certificate in Community Action and Public Policy from Connecticut College. Prior to AYPF, Jesse worked as a junior associate in the enrollment office of DC Public Schools, as part of their Urban Education Leaders Internship Program, and as an intern in the Housing Unit at Greater Boston Legal Services.

    While studying abroad in South Africa, Jesse researched the experiences of racial identity among young adults in Cape Town and the impact of school on identity formation. Upon returning to the U.S., Jesse completed a thesis on the role of community-based organizations and organizing in addressing the barriers to and opportunities for equitable and quality education.

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  • Rebecca Lavinson

    Policy Associate

    Rebecca joined the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) in March, 2018. Before joining AYPF, Rebecca worked in education policy at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, France, where she focused on education in OECD and Latin American countries.

    Afterwards, Rebecca performed freelance work for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on access to higher education for underserved populations as well as the National Institute of Education (NIE) of Singapore on mobile learning and financial literacy.

    Rebecca holds a Master’s degree in Economics of Public Policy from the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in Barcelona, Spain and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Brandeis University, Massachusetts, USA.

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  • Shannon Shipman

    Director of Events and Operations

    Shannon Shipman joined AYPF in June of 2014. In her role as Director of Events and Operations, she is responsible for managing AYPF’s operational processes and strategies, and coordinating cross-team collaboration. She also manages programmatic logistics along with all Capitol Hill forums, discussion groups, national study tours, and special events.

    Prior to joining AYPF, Shannon worked on behalf of the Virginia State Bar, District of Columbia Bar, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association managing events, outreach initiatives, and fundraising campaigns. Shannon holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University, and is in pursuit of becoming a Certified Meeting Planner.

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  • Samaura Stone

    Senior Policy Associate

    Samaura Stone joined AYPF in 2018. Prior to joining AYPF, she was a policy analyst at the Aspen Institute where she focused on elevating two-generation approaches to improve social and economic outcomes for children and families. Her past experiences include working as a congressional legislative fellow in the offices of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and Representative Karen Bass (CA-37).

    Originally from Oregon, she received her master of social work degree with a concentration in Organizational Leadership and Management from Portland State University. Prior to and during graduate school, she held positions with nonprofit organizations, government, and school districts, including working for several years as a Community Liaison for U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (OR) in his state office.

    As a former direct-practice social worker, Samaura has advocated for various populations; including foster youth, formerly incarcerated women, families experiencing housing insecurities, and individuals impacted by mental health and substance abuse disorders. She is a long-time Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for children in foster care. Samaura was recently appointed to the Montgomery County Board of Social Services. In this role, she is responsible for advising the County Executive, Council, State Department of Human Services and Governor’s office on issues and policies pertaining to children, adults and families.

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  • Georgia Tan

    Database & Website Administrator

    Georgia Tan joined American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) in January of 2017.  As the resident Database and Website Administrator, she organizes and maintains all data and content to ensure effective marketing outreach. Currently based in New York City, Georgia has a background in technical project management, and holds a BA from New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study. 

  • Jenna Tomasello

    Policy Associate

    Jenna Tomasello joined AYPF in June 2015. In her role as Policy Associate, Jenna’s work involves the development of learning events and products, including Capitol Hill forums, study tours, discussion groups, webinars, and publications, the dissemination of policy and practice guidance to frame issues, inform policy, and convene conversations that improve education and the lives of traditionally underserved youth.

    Jenna is also the cofounder of Learn Together, Live Together, a nonpartisan, grassroots coalition of education stakeholders striving to promote diverse, equitable, and inclusive schools. As a product of public schools and a first-generation college student, Jenna has always held a deep appreciation for education and the opportunities it afforded her. Jenna has a background in philosophy and legal studies, and holds a master’s degree in educational policy from the University of Rochester Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development.

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  • Christine Veney

    Director of Finance and Administration

    Christine Veney joined the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) in 2002 and is the point of contact for accounting, human resources, and administration.  Christine holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in English and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Paralegal studies.

    Christine first came to us through our internship program, and at the conclude of her internship she was hired to continue supporting the policy and administrative efforts of the organization.  To align with her educational pursuits, Christine left AYPF to pursue a career in the legal field and worked for some time as a Legal Assistant with the IRS Chief Counsel Office before rejoining the team in 2006.

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The forums are a great service to the DC policy community.  The guests are always well regarded and knowledgeable.

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