Twelve outstanding youth workers were honored for their dedication and creativity in supporting youth by Madison Out-of-School Time (MOST) at a special ceremony Aug. 25 at the Madison Youth Arts Center on Madison’s near east side.
These youth workers (adults who work with youth) represent 10 different youth-serving organizations in the Madison area including Bayview Foundation, Badger Rock Neighborhood Center, Neighborhood House, Goodman Community Center, Wisconsin Youth Company, Madison School and Community Recreation, Urban League of Greater Madison, East Madison Community Center, CEOs of Tomorrow, and Madison Children’s Museum.
The Madison-area Out-of-School Time (MOST) initiative serves 16,000 children in Madison and ensures that all of Madison’s children and youth have access to comprehensive, high-quality, out-of-school time programs that support positive youth development, educational achievement, and readiness for college, career, and community. MOST is a collaboration between the City of Madison, Dane County, Madison Metropolitan School District, and over 45 Madison-area youth-serving organizations.
Award winners were nominated by their peers with final selections made by local high school students among dozens of strong nominees. The following individuals were recognized on Aug. 25: (Biographies provided by MOST)
Nanceny Fatou Fanny, of Bayview Foundation, is known for creating a space where youth can be themselves, get the support they need, and build better relationships with each other. Having grown up in Bayview, she attended some of the same programs she now coordinates. Her connection to programming has given her insight she’s used to improving youth programs. Under her direction, Bayview’s youth employment program hired 20 youth from the community and overall program engagement and retention has increased, in addition to more opportunities for youth advocacy and leadership being created. Highly organized, uniquely talented, and extremely hardworking, Nanceny makes sure to bring her authentic self to work every single day. Youth adore her because she makes them feel seen, heard, and it’s obvious she’ll do whatever it takes to make sure they succeed
Erics Peters, of East Madison Community Center, grew up in the Housing Development where EMCC is located. He has been attending the Center since he was five and was very active in the Center’s youth programs. When he was a teen, he volunteered by supervising younger children at EMCC’s after-school & weekend programs. Erics is a very dedicated and a great role model. During high school, EMCC hired Erics to be our paid Youth Worker. Since that time (12 years) he has applied his leadership skills and education to impact neighborhood youth in the Center’s award-winning Programs.
Johnny Kennedy, of Madison Schools & Community Recreation and Urban League of Greater Madison, is outstanding because of her commitment to and unconditional love for her students. She consistently goes out of her way to help students be successful. This is clearly evident in everything she does, but particularly so in terms of the work that she did over the last 2 school years teaching a pilot leadership development class for 7th and 8th-grade students. She worked hard to incorporate student voice into the lesson plans and class activities and created a classroom/space that was a welcoming, empowering space where students consistently reported feeling safe, seen, and valued. Johnny carried over the welcoming and empowering environment to the after-school space as well as throughout the whole school. In a school-wide student survey, 80% of all students listed Johnny as a trusted adult.
Tauri Robinson, of Meadowood Neighborhood Center, started off in 1997 at the East Madison Community Center as the Assistant Youth Program Manager/Youth Worker. There he planned & implemented youth recreation, education, development, prevention and intervention programs serving historically disenfranchised youth and young adults. From there, he took a step further, challenging himself to work for the Madison School & Community Center (MSCR). It was there where he helped develop Junior Leader/Leaders in Training & the free scholarship driver’s education program for high school students. Tauri now works at the Meadowood Center as the Center Director making big moves bringing in fresh new faces to the youth there that’s relevant to their programming needs.
Daukesha J. McCurty, of Goodman Community Center, has focused on maintaining connections and finding safe spaces for teens in her program. She has not just succeeded at this, but excelled! Her ability to build relationships with our teens provides them with a trusted adult they can turn to when they need support. Daukesha creates a space during the employment training and shifts where teens feel comfortable asking her for help with not just work-related issues, but other stresses in their lives. She is always ready to listen, find out what a teen needs, and then find a way to make it happen. Her ability to make connections to really find out what teens need and her ability to constantly pivot due to COVID challenges and specific teen needs make her an amazing youth worker!
Sabrina Ruedinger, of Neighborhood House, is an amazing youth worker! By day she is an elementary special education teacher, and by night/summer she works at Neighborhood House with our monthly youth rec program and as our summer camp director. She never stops! All day long for camp she is working, making sure the campers and staff have a great experience, is outstanding at working with kids with special needs or behaviors. She is always putting kids first and making sure they have a good time. She is able to identify and respond to what each child needs individually (in both middle and elementary programs). On top of all that, Sabrina always makes the programs lots of FUN through thoughtful planning.
Megan Woodward, of Madison School & Community Recreation is the sole member of her elementary team with a teaching license. Her ability to see afterschool and enrichment programming through a teacher lens helps to assure a smooth transition for students between the school day and afterschool and brings an important perspective to the team. She applies her knowledge of child growth and development and attention to detail to create activities that are not only engaging, but also provide opportunities for learning and social and emotional growth. Through her knowledge of social and emotional development, Megan has developed her program to set students up for success.
Sarah Karlson, of Badger Rock Neighborhood Center, teaches garden education, incorporating food justice, growing, harvesting and cooking food into how she reaches youth. Sarah and her team have created opportunities for former middle school students to work at Badger Rock Neighborhood center in the summer, including helping teach younger youth during summer programs. The students love her and when they graduate, they come back to see her and our team. She looks to them to teach her as much as she teaches them, incorporating their cultures & food traditions into class. She treats them with dignity and a lot of love. She works tirelessly on their behalf, reaching them and their families and ensuring that their voices are heard.
Roxie Hentz, of CEOs of tomorrow, always recognizes, connects with, and brings forth the brilliance in the teens and young adults she serves through entrepreneurship and employment programs. She works relentlessly to offer high-level, meaningful opportunities and remove obstacles to their success, all the while empowering them to grow and live in their greatness. She also facilitates their transition into adulthood by offering meaningful work and networking to connect them with larger programs, offering one-on-one mentorship even after they graduate her programs so they clarify a sense of purpose and possibility for their future, regardless of their past.
Will Smith, of MSCR has worked for over 15 years providing afterschool and enrichment opportunities to kids throughout Madison. He works hard to make afterschool and summer programs for both kids and families. His years of experience, and being a father himself with kids in MSCR programs, allows him to view programming from multiple lenses and because of this he always tries to make sure that everyone’s needs are met. He is a director who will always give anyone who wants to work a chance. Regardless of age or experience and creates a welcoming environment for staff and helps coach them based on their individual needs.
Allie Dunham, of Madison Children’s museum, dedication to supporting youth in the work force, through after-school programs, and mentoring is unparalleled. Allie cares about fostering professional development and personal growth and goes above and beyond to learn about different opportunities available to a wide range of ages. She has genuine enthusiasm and passion for the youth she works with and goes out of her way to make them feel welcome, heard, and respected. She encourages the rest of us to engage at the same level she does and I couldn’t imagine our program without her.
Monica Cloutier, of Wisconsin Youth Company, goes above and beyond in all aspects of her job from dedicating time and space for community building to highly engaging kid-centered activities to individualized accommodation plans for the various needs in her program. Monica has a commitment to professional growth and an ability to reflect on her work. She has requested additional training opportunities to further help support families and better discuss the mental health of her kids. Families constantly say how lucky they are to have Monica and how appreciative they are about the care she puts into their child’s specific situation.