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.


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Elizabeth Bass, MSW is the Executive Director of Virginia Mentoring Partnership (VMP), a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the youth mentoring field through training, capacity building and quality improvement. She has worked in the non-profit sector for more than 18 years, with an emphasis on volunteer training and management, community outreach, youth development and collegiate civic engagement. Prior to working with VMP, Elizabeth resided in Charlottesville and was the Executive Director of Madison House, a non-profit organization that serves as the student volunteer center at the University of Virginia. Elizabeth believes in the importance of youth mentoring, and the impact that a caring adult can have in the life of a child. As a member of the team at VMP, she works to increase the quality and quantity of mentoring relationships, and to promote effective youth mentoring across the Commonwealth. Elizabeth has her bachelor’s degree from U.Va., and her master’s degree in Social Work from VCU. She is a mom to Henry, and serves on the Board of Grace Covenant Child Development Center, and as the Chair of the National MENTOR Affiliate Advisory Council.

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 a 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.



Grieve, Ross

Ross Grieve owns and serves as Executive Director of LeafSpring School and Camp Blue Sky, a preschool, after-school program, and comprehensive summer day camp in Mechanicsville, VA. With over 25 years of experience in leadership and senior management roles, Ross' work has included 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 Children 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 a 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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Ragen Johnson is the Executive Director of Alternatives Inc., a nationally recognized youth development agency in Hampton, VA.  She participated in out of school time programs offered by Alternatives as an elementary, middle, and high school student and began working for the agency in 2001. Ragen served as the Program Coordinator over a nationally recognized early childhood program serving 1200 children ages 3-6 and state recognized childhood obesity prevention program serving 300 children in the community. She also facilitates a Mindfulness curriculum to elementary and middle school students and parents. She has also facilitated high school leadership groups, developed curriculum, and trainings, facilitated parent programs and provided technical assistance for early childhood program in the community regarding social and emotional development. Ragen holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Political Science and has a Master’s degree in Public Administration. 

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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.



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 States 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 and Greyson.