Leadership Council




Amy Atkinson 1

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Amy Atkinson is the Executive Director of the Virginia General Assembly’s Commission on Youth, which is charged with providing study and recommendations on a variety of issues impacting youth and their families. Prior to working for the Commission, Amy worked for the Department of Medical Assistance Services and the Department of Juvenile Justice. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Mary Washington and earned a Master of Public Administration from VCU. A native of Abingdon, Amy now lives in Mechanicsville with her husband and three children.

Mark Emery

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Mark Emery is Administrator for After-School Programs for Fairfax County Public Schools overseeing the development and implementation of after-school programs in 27 middle schools. He is Chair of the Leadership Council of VPOST, former Board Member of the Fairfax Partnership for Youth and the Fairfax County Boys’ and Girls’ Club. He was Director of Extended Learning and Development for the Council of Chief State School Officers and served as Chair of Fairfax County School Board. Dr. Emery retired from Naval Research Laboratory after 25 years as a Research Physicist and holds a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Iowa.

Diane Foucar-Szocki

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Dr. Diane Foucar-Szocki serves as Grants and Contracts Coordinator and Professor of Adult Education and Human Resource Development in the College of Education at James Madison University. She also serves as Vice Chair of the Harrisonburg Education Foundation and is on the board of On the Road Collaborative. As a certified Immunity to Change® Coach, Diane also works with individuals and organizations to enhance creativity and change through Creative Dynamics Coaching and Consulting.  Diane holds a Master’s degree in Creativity and Innovation from SUNY –Buffalo State and a doctorate in Adult Education from Syracuse University. Diane works tirelessly to expand learning opportunities in and out of school and across campus the lifespan.


Kathy Gillikin

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Gillikin has worked in the areas of education and training for more than 32 years. She has a B.S. degree in early childhood education from Messiah College, and an M.Ed. degree in adult education/human resource development from Virginia Commonwealth University. Kathy is currently the Quality Child Care Program Manager in the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Development at the Virginia Department of Social Services. Kathy works on quality and professional development initiatives for Virginia’s child care workforce. She coaches youth basketball and soccer in her spare time.


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Ross Grieve owns and directs Rainbow Station, Inc. in Mechanicsville, VA. With over 25 years of experience in leadership and senior management roles, Ross' work has includes independent consulting, program creation and implementation, staff development, spear-heading the growth for a non-profit, and project management. Strong communication skills help Ross compliment a proven ability to empower colleagues with a sense of critical value for the overall success of an organization.


Griffey, Emily


Emily Griffey is Voices of Virginia's ChildrenVoices’ Policy Director, leading Voices’ policy team and tackling cross-cutting issues such as economic opportunity and racial disparities. Emily’s policy focus is on early childhood education. She convenes the Early Childhood Policy Network and leads the development of the Unified Policy Agenda. Emily comes to Voices with experience in working on early childhood issues at a local and regional level for Greater Richmond’s Smart Beginnings, Richmond City Social Services and Baltimore’s Safe and Sound Campaign. Emily is a graduate of the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond, and earned her Master’s degree in Public Policy at Johns Hopkins. Emily is mom to Andy and serves on the Family Advisory Committee for the Children’s Hospital of Richmond.



Marsha Granderson

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Marsha Granderson is an education specialist for the ESEA Title IV, Part B, 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) program at the Virginia Department of Education.  She serves as the liaison between the Department and the U. S. Department of Education and is on the Leadership Council for the Virginia Partnership for Out-of-School Time.  Marsha manages 21st CCLC grants statewide that support opportunities for academic enrichment during non-school hours for children, particularly those who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools.  These grants are awarded to school divisions, nonprofit, city, or county government agencies, community and faith based organizations, and institutions of higher education. Marsha received her Bachelor of Science in Physics from Virginia State University. Marsha is an avid Dr. Who fan.


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Heidi Hertz MS, RD is the Obesity Prevention Coordinator with the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth . Her focus is creating a healthy Virginia.  Heidi is currently expanding partnerships and developing strategies that can help eliminate childhood hunger while improving health.  Heidi actively coordinates initiatives around Virginia promoting access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity.  She serves on the Commonwealth Council on Bridging the Nutritional Divide chaired by Virginia’s First Lady, Mrs. Dorothy McAuliffe. The Council’s primary focus is eliminating childhood hunger in Virginia, developing local agriculture markets, and promoting community efforts that link locally grown food, education, health and nutrition.  Heidi is a 2004 graduate from Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise and currently lives in Richmond with her husband Billy, daughter Libbie, and boxer Lane.

Rebekah Holbrook compressed

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Rebekah Holbrook, M.A. has more than a decade of experience in the education field, working to close the achievement gap for low-income children. Prior to her work at United Way, Rebekah served as Director of Programs for Virginia Mentoring Partnership where she launched Virginia’s first continuous improvement process for youth mentoring programs. Currently, she is the Director of Community Impact: Education, at United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg, where she manages a $1.8 million portfolio of grants to programs serving children, youth, and families. In her role at United Way, she co-manages the Richmond Youth Program Quality Intervention, convenes the Literacy Collaborative Action Network and leads the Greater Richmond Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. She has her bachelor’s degree in American Studies from the College of William and Mary, a master’s degree in Writing & Rhetoric from VCU, and is a 500 hour registered yoga teacher.

Kathy Johnson

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Kathryn Johnson is the Executive Director of Alternatives, Inc., a nationally recognized nonprofit youth development organization located in Hampton, VA. Alternatives is nationally recognized as a leading organization in the areas of collaborative community initiatives, youth development, training and curriculum development, and youth civic engagement. Alternatives serves as the VPOST fiscal sponsor and also provides staff support to recruit, train, and supervise high school students who serve as Youth Ambassadors.  In 2013 Kathy was named Virginia’s Champion for Quality Afterschool by the National Afterschool Alliance and is a graduate of the 2015 White-Riley-Petersen Policy Fellowship at Furman University.

Lane, Iris

Iris Lane is currently an Education and Grants Consultant as the owner of Innovative Grant Solutions LLC in Montross, Virginia.  Ms. Lane had an extensive career with the U. S. Department of Education (USDE) that spanned over 30 years and she served in a variety of positions.  As a USDE Program Officer, Ms. Lane managed, coordinated, and monitored Federal formula and discretionary grant projects for the Magnet Schools Assistance, Public Charter Schools, Eisenhower Professional Development, and Innovative Strategies programs.   She also served as the Executive Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education. Ms. Lane served as the Senior Program Manager of the Voluntary Public School Choice Program.  This included leading two grant competitions and providing technical assistance to a portfolio of 27 new and continuing grantees across the nation.  Iris was elected to the Westmoreland County School Board in 2012 and served as its chair from January 2013 until January 2016.  In her second term, Iris is a member of the Virginia School Board Association’s Board of Directors, serving as the Eastern Region Chair and participates in activities of the Virginia School Boards Association and the National School Boards Association.

Jonathan Melendez 2

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Jonathan has been working with youth and teens for over 10 years. He started off working with Fairfax County's Teen Services Division and was a regional Teen Center manager. Currently, Jonathan is a Prevention Coordination Specialist for Fairfax County's Department of Neighborhood and Community Services. His current focus is with Youth and Teens, with a particular focus on coordinating Out of School Time programs, both public and private, throughout the county. Jonathan holds a History degree from Virginia Tech. Fun Fact: Jonathan has been a DJ since high school and can still be found behind the turntables in his spare time.

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Roberta Newman is the President of Newroads Consulting, a division of Cape Charles Development Company. She is a nationally recognized, trainer, speaker, consultant, and creator of many resources for afterschool staff. Holding a Master’s Degree in Music Education, Roberta has been a teacher and school administrator at all levels, directed the SACC program in Fairfax County, developed credentialing systems and training for the Department of Defense and several states, and developed 36 online training modules for afterschool staff in partnership with CypherWorx, a leader in online education for non-profit organizations. Currently, Roberta serves as Coordinator for Smart Beginnings Eastern Shore and as President of the Eastern Shore Community College Foundation. Fun Fact: Roberta is a fanatical Maryland Terrapins Fan – FEAR THE TURTLE!


Daryle Rogers

Rodgers, Daryle

Daryle Rodgers has a B.S. in Education from Old Dominion University (ODU) and a Masters in Organizational Leadership from Fort Hays State University. Daryle is a Certified Park & Recreation Professional, and a Certified Grant Writer. Daryle has been a private & public school educator/administrator, and a previous Parks & Recreation supervisor. He currently is the Coordinator of Out-of-School Time & Extended Learning program for Hampton City Schools. Daryle has a passion for helping youth reach their full potential through holistic learning. Daryle serves as a mentor for the Virginia Department of Education’s 21st CCLC programs. Daryle has written and been awarded over 6 million dollars in grant awards. Daryle has served as a guest lecturer for the Master’s level class Community & Schools. Daryle loves sports, and also coached and served as an Athletic Director. Daryle has 4 children Imani, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Jamison. He is married to Jennifer.

michelle schmitt

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Michelle M. Schmitt, Ph.D., LCP, CSAC received both a Master of Science and Doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Her specialty is in the prevention and treatment of substance abuse disorders and violent behaviors. Michelle has over twenty years of social service experience in a broad range of settings and geographical locations. She has worked as a mental health counselor/psychologist in community settings, inpatient hospital units, university counseling centers and prisons. She was a Program and Research Specialist with the Virginia Department of Correctional Education. Michelle is currently the Director at Virginia Commonwealth University, Center for School-Community Collaboration. Her work within the Center has encompassed a variety of state-wide prevention initiatives aimed at community professionals to shape positive youth development. She is a full-time working mother of two who knows professionally and personally the value of strong afterschool programs. She is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Certified Substance Abuse Counselor in Virginia.


Duane Sergent

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Prior to retiring from the Virginia DOE as state coordinator for Title IV-B 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) grant, Duane’s career spanned 35 years in teaching and public service. He consults on the U.S. Department of Education (ED) 21st CCLC re-design of the national data collection system, serving as liaison to ED, State Education Agencies, and other stakeholders. He has given numerous presentations on education/wellness topics in Arizona, California, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Texas, and Virginia. He has consulted for Washington, DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Virginia, and West Virginia Departments of Education.



JJSS head shot Oct 2014

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Jennifer J. Smith-Slabaugh, Ph.D., is the State Project Manager for the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Project AWARE – State Education Agency grant.  This five-year award from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Agency (SAMHSA) is identified as one of the “Now Is The Time” programs. Project AWARE stands for Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education.  This project interconnects with the VDOE Virginia Tiered Systems of Support (VTSS) which is a data-driven decision making framework for establishing the academic, behavioral and social-emotional supports needed for a school to be an effective learning environment for all students and communities across the Commonwealth. Jennifer has over 20 years of experience working in the educational non-profit, K-12 and community partnership field. In her free time, she can be found playing in the outdoors with her husband Andy, and son Quinn.

Elizabeth Taylor

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Elizabeth Taylor is a YMCA Professional with over 25 years of experience in the non-profit sector. She received her Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Mary Washington. She is passionate about providing youth opportunities to reach their potential and goals. She loves the great outdoors and enjoying time with her husband and daughters.

Kimberly Taylor

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Kimberly Taylor has been in the Early Child Development Field for over 25 years in the position of Elementary Services Coordinator, Assistant Director, Director, Executive Director and Regional Manager. Kimberly has a passion for children and their families and believes that all families deserve high quality care.  Before going into Early Education, Kimberly was in the United Stated Army as a Military Police after which she obtained her BS in Criminal Justice.  Most recently Kimberly has started her own Early Education Consulting Firm that partners with Childcare Centers to support and coach Directors, and in some cases recruit and train new directors.  A high quality center begins with a high quality Director.  Kimberly is married to Cleveland, has one son Courtney, and two grandsons, Kristian 7 and Greyson 3.