Leveraging National Opportunities to Support Local System Building

Leveraging National Opportunities to Support Local System Building
Leveraging National Opportunities to Support Local System Building


This  webinar showcased new opportunities that can help attendees engage others within your community to support your afterschool systems building efforts.  The event was geared specifically to cities who attended the “Better Together: Building Local Systems to Improve Afterschool” Conference.

This  webinar offered:

We have made the resources, materials and recording of the webinar available publicly.

Presenters Included:

Jennifer Harris, Director, Denver After School Alliance

Lucas Held, Director of Communications, The Wallace Foundation

Jen Rinehart, Vice President of Policy and Research, Afterschool Alliance

Bela Shah Spooner, Principal Associate, Afterschool, National League of Cities

Presenter Biographies

jen harris_for web

Jennifer Harris is a trainer and consultant with nearly 16 years’ experience in various roles that ultimately focus on creating quality out-of-school time experiences for youth.  Jennifer began her youth work at Camp Fire USA, Alaska Council and worked in both Fairbanks and Anchorage for a combined seven years in a variety of direct service and administrative roles.  Upon relocation to Arkansas, Jennifer began working for Arkansas State University Childhood Services as a training and technical assistance provider to out-of-school time (OST) programs throughout the state.    During this time, Jennifer supported the OST field in a variety of capacities including serving as the Network Coordinator for the Charles Stewart Mott funded afterschool network, the Arkansas Out of School Network.  She also served as the Special Projects Coordinator for School-Age Projects which involved creating a multi-dimensional, statewide quality improvement system focused on supporting 175 programs’ involvement in the Youth Program Quality Intervention.

In November of 2012, Jennifer Harris accepted a new position serving as the Director of the Denver Afterschool Alliance, a sponsored initiative of the Office of Children’s Affairs, formerly the Denver Mayor’s Office of Education and Children.  In this new position, Jennifer provides leadership to the Denver Afterschool Alliance which is responsible for formally aligning current stakeholders, networks, and initiatives to develop and implement a long-term, comprehensive vision and strategy that increases access, awareness, and support for quality afterschool programs.

Jennifer also remains a consultant for the David P. Weikert Center for Youth Program Quality where she provides training and technical assistance that empowers education and human service leaders to adapt, implement, and scale best-in-class, research validated quality improvement systems to advance child and youth development.

Lucas Held_for web

Lucas Bernays Held has been director of communications since 2002. He leads a team responsible for developing integrated communication strategies that help advance the foundation’s effort to expand learning and enrichment opportunities by supporting and sharing effective ideas and practices. These strategies include partnerships, media underwriting, publications, Web marketing, media and conference presentations.

Previously, he was vice president for public affairs at Barnard College, Columbia University, from 1998-2002, where he helped raise the college’s profile and led the crafting of the college’s first strategic plan. He was director of college relations at Connecticut College, and an editor at The Middletown Press of Connecticut. He regularly makes presentations on strategic communications, has published articles on strategic communications, music and art criticism, and contributed the lead essay in the international exhibition catalogue for In a Field of Poppies by artist Richard Harden. He is the recipient of awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the University and College Designers Association, and Admissions Marketing Report. He earned a certificate in marketing management from Columbia University Graduate School of Business and a B.A. in English from Haverford College. He is a graduate of The Commonwealth School.

Jennifer Rinehart_for webJen 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.  Recent projects include Uncertain Times and planning for the third round of America After 3PM research and related reports.   Jen also served as Interim Executive Director of the Afterschool Alliance from December 2004 through June 2005.  Prior to joining the Afterschool Alliance, Jen served for more than five years on the staff of the U.S. 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 Masters degree in Human Development from the University of Maryland at College Park .  She currently serves on a number of advisory boards of organizations that share the Afterschool Alliance’s vision of afterschool for all.

Bela Shah Spooner_for webBela Shah Spooner is a Principal Associate for Afterschool Initiatives in the Institute for Youth, Education, and Families at the National League of Cities (NLC). She joined NLC in 2004 to inform municipal officials about the importance of afterschool learning opportunities and work with them to utilize their leadership and bully pulpit to advance a citywide afterschool agenda. She launched NLC’s Afterschool Policy Advisors Network (APAN) in 2005, a national peer-learning network to connect senior municipal leaders who focus on afterschool programs, which has grown to include over 400 cities. Bela had provided technical assistance to over 25 cities focusing on building citywide systems of afterschool and serves as a resource to cities that are interested in expanding learning opportunities available to their youth.  As part of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation supported Afterschool Technical Assistance Collaborative, she also supports the 40 statewide afterschool networks’ efforts to increase the quality and access to afterschool programs and makes connections to city leaders. She has authored Cities and Statewide Afterschool Networks Partnering to Support Afterschool Programs and NLC’s 2011 report Municipal Leadership Afterschool: Citywide Approaches Spreading across the Country which highlights a growing trend in communities to develop comprehensive, citywide afterschool systems for children and youth and includes profiles of 27 cities that are among the most advanced in their efforts to coordinate afterschool opportunities.

Prior to NLC, Bela served as the research associate for the Coalition for Community Schools, a network of more than 150 local, state and national organizations which works to improve education by promoting partnerships between local schools and community-based organizations to provide comprehensive and integrated services within schools. Bela co-wrote the Coalition report, Making the Difference: Research and Practice in Community Schools. Bela holds her master’s degree in sociology and education with a concentration in education policy from Teachers College, Columbia University and her bachelor’s in psychology and spanish from the University of Pennsylvania.  She lives in Washington, DC with her husband Jordan, 5 year old stepson, and new 9-month old baby boy.

Click here for Lucas Held’s PPT presentation

Click here to view Jen Rinehart’s PPT presentation

Click here to view Jennifer Harris’ PPT presentation

Click here for Bela Shah Spooner’s PPT presentation

Click here for:  Afterschool Alliance, Lights on Afterschool Toolkit

Click here for:  Denver Afterschool Alliance’s Lights on Afterschool Highlights

Click here for: Lights on Afterschool’s Flashmob Video

Click here for: “Is Citywide Afterschool Coordination Going Nationwide?”

Click here for: Municipal Leadership for Afterschool:  Citywide Approaches Spreading Across the Country

Presenter information

Jen Harris


Denver After School Alliance

201 W. Colfax Avenue, Dept. 1101

Denver, CO 80202


Lucas Held

Director of Communications

The Wallace Foundation

5 Penn Plaza

7th Floor

New York, NY 10001


Jen Rinehart

Vice President of Policy and Research

Afterschool Alliance

1616 H Street, NW

Suite 820

Washington, DC 20006


Bela Shah Spooner

Principal Associate

National League of Cities

1301 Pennsylvania Ave, NW

5th Floor

Washington, DC 20004






The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.