The Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network’s Afterschool Community Champions program plays a key role in GSAN’s mission to advance, connect, and support quality out-of-school time programs to promote the success of youth throughout Georgia. Champions are a select group of Georgia leaders who commit to a year of civic engagement to strengthen community awareness, support effective programs, and bring diverse perspectives and partners to the table around out-of-school time programming.
The program provides regular offerings for professional development, leadership, and networking. During their participation, Champions develop an advocacy action plan, followed by the implementation of advocacy events with the support of a stipend. Champions also receive complimentary registration to the 2024 Georgia Afterschool & Youth Development Conference. Now more than ever, we need advocates to support programs that are serving the needs of youth, families, and their community.
Frequently Asked Questions
Champions have been chosen for 2023-24. Applications for the 2024–25 cohort will open in summer 2024. You can see the most recent application HERE. Applicants must fully complete and submit the application by the deadline. Follow-up calls are held with the strongest applicants.
In 2023, 8 out of 41 applicants were selected. In 2022, 7 out of 64 applicants were chosen. The program is purposely kept small to allow for in-depth interaction with and support to each Champion.
Champions are expected to fully participate in the program, including engaging in the following activities:
Attend the two-day kick-off advocacy training on September 21-22, 2023.
Spend 2-3 hours per month on Champion-related activities committed to advocating for out-of-school time programs and the young people they serve. Champions select an advocacy goal for the year, work on that goal, and give a presentation on progress toward that goal on the final monthly call (May 9, 2024).
Attend, participate, and perform assigned duties as an ambassador in Afterschool Day at the Capitol (February 14, 2024),
Participate in at least 75% of monthly professional development calls on the following dates. Calls are from 10-11:30 a.m.:
October 5, 2023
November 9, 2023
December 14, 2023
January 11, 2024
February 22, 2024
March 14, 2023
April 11, 2024
May 9, 2024
Champions will connect with leaders and stakeholders who care deeply about the lives of children in our state. Throughout the year, there will be opportunities to develop an advocacy action plan, followed by the implementation of advocacy events with the support of a stipend. Champions also receive complimentary registration to the 2024 Georgia Afterschool & Youth Development conference. Champions will receive monthly professional development, networking opportunities, the chance to work with GSAN on programs and initiatives, and eligibility to become part of the Afterschool Community Champions Alumni Network. At the end of a year, Champions will be better informed, more skillful advocates for sound public policy around afterschool and summer programming.
Become an Afterschool Community Champion
Please review the program calendar below. Please see the first Frequently Asked Question above for information on how and when to apply.
Afterschool Champions Alumni Network
GSAN is forming an Afterschool Community Champions Alumni Network. All former Champions going back to 2018 can participate. Members will determine specific focus areas for the Alumni Network. Broad goals of the network encompass the following: Provide opportunities for peer support, exchange, advocacy, training, networking, professional development, leadership development, peer support (giving or receiving), exposure to peer efforts and programs, interaction with policymakers, broadened perspectives, and identifying opportunities.
GSAN will support the alumni network through facilitating communications; identifying networking, mentoring, and professional development opportunities; providing a staff liaison; and seeking funding to underwrite network activities such as meetings, presentations, trainings, travel, materials, and conference registration/participation.
Watch this space for future developments and updates on the Alumni Network.
2023 - 2024 Afterschool Community Champions Class
Manager of Grants and Sponsorships
767 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30307
Since moving to Atlanta five years ago, I have worked to develop a career as a museum leader. Through many educational internships at art museums both locally and across the globe, I have developed a strong passion for sharing my love of art, culture, and, more broadly, learning with the community. I turned this passion into a career at LaAmistad, Inc., first as an afterschool facilitator and then as a grant writer. After earning my master’s in museum studies, I moved to Fernbank Museum of Natural History, where I currently work as a Manager of Grants and Sponsorships.
Director of Development
505 10th Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30318
Amy Johns is the Director of Development at Horizons Atlanta, charged with leading the organization's advancement program to broaden Horizons Atlanta's development, outreach and stakeholder relations activities. Prior to joining Horizons, Amy worked at The Mount Vernon School and previously, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. Originally from Virginia, Amy earned her B.F.A. from the University of Tennessee and her M.A. in Nonprofit Arts Administration from SCAD, where she wrote her thesis on designing educational programs for art museums. Amy proudly serves on the Board of the Sarah Smith Education Foundation and the BOOST Advisory Council.
Co-Founder & President
225 Cherokee Road
Athens, GA 30683
Dr. Tawana S. Mattox is the Co-founder and President of Destined Inc. This 25-year-old program focuses on summer programming and year-round tutoring in reading. Recently, Dr. Mattox completed her term on the Clarke County School Board. She served over 20 years in higher education and is currently the Education Director at Athens Land Trust overseeing the Young Urban Builders Program and managing the nationally recognized Athens Energy Opportunity Project. Dr. Mattox earned her B.S. degree from the prestigious Morris Brown College; M.S. from Georgia State University; and Doctorate from Nova Southeastern University. She currently resides in Athens, Georgia.
Girls Aiming Towards Positivity
4827 Old National Highway
College Park, GA 30337
Originally from San Diego, California, Shacole A. Pearman has focused her work on building communities and leaving a positive impact on youth throughout the Atlanta area. Shacole attended Clark Atlanta University where she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Speech Communications. During her career she has worked for several youth serving organizations. Currently Shacole works in Affordable housing and is the Executive Director of her own non-profit organization serving teenage girls called Girls Aiming Towards Positivity. Shacole has won several awards throughout her career including the Shining Star award from the Q Parker foundation. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and dancing.
U Create Macon
200 Third Avenue
Macon, GA 31204
Charise Stephens-Merriweather is a 30-year experienced servant leader working on various projects to serve youth in Georgia. She created U Create Macon in 2019 to expose youth to the benefits of the outdoors. The program is now award-winning and known across the nation. They are currently opening a one-stop shoe Innovation Campus to serve their various programs. Charise is the mom of two adult kids and happily married to her cycling partner Alex.
Founder & Executive Director
Girls Dig Deeper Initiative
1740 Rocky Creek Road, #20094
Macon, GA 31206
Najiva Timothee is a certified leadership coach, trainer, and mentor. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Girls Dig Deeper Initiative, a girls group mentoring and youth development program in Macon. She serves middle and high school youth in school settings, communities, as well as incarcerated youth. Najiva is CEO of The Consult Table, a leadership development coaching and training business serving small businesses, companies, and industries. From 2005-2020, Najiva served as an Executive Lead for Walgreens Corporation leading Retail and Pharmacy Operations. She specialized in leadership development and performance management. Najiva is a wife and a mother of four children. She is devoted to her family and enjoys the ocean, traveling, and reading.
Co-Founder & VP or Programs
275 Decatur Street
Atlanta, GA 30312
Ty Woods has dedicated over 20 years to youth development, beginning her career as an Afterschool Program instructor and theater performer. After five impactful years, she broadened her scope to include child abuse advocacy with the VI Domestic Violence Council. When she moved to Georgia, she quickly landed her first leadership role as Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club in Conyers. Fueled by a lifelong passion for the Arts and developing the "whole child," Ty co-founded Artportunity Knocks with her husband, Chris Woods, and a childhood friend. Ty serves as the organization's VP of Programs. A devoted wife and mother, Ty balances her advocacy work with family life.
Director of Education
Springer Opera House
State Theatre of Georgia
103 10th Street
Columbus, GA 31901
DB Woolbright is the Director of Education at the State Theatre of Georgia, the Springer Opera House. DB has gained diverse experience working in schools and theatres across the country as a teaching artist, director, and designer. In 2016, DB, along with his colleague Wesley Forlines, completed a sculptural installation along the BeltLine in Atlanta named The Service Station. As a musician, DB tours and records throughout the year with artists such as The Shelby Brothers, Garrett Lee, Colin Manskar, Katie Deal, and Might As Well Records. He also serves on the board of directors of Teen Advisors, Inc.
Afterschool Community Champions Alumni
President and Founder
214 10th St Ste A,
Columbus, GA 31901
Rick McKnight has a lifetime of service and governance to arts organizations, with an emphasis on arts education. He maintained a prosperous retail and shopping center development career while serving as the Organist-Choirmaster at St. Thomas Episcopal Church for 20 years. After he sold his businesses, he served RiverCenter for the Performing Arts as Arts Education Director for 6 years. In early 2021 he founded FABArts as a non-profit entity connecting schools and school systems, teaching artists and universities and cultural organizations through arts integrated activities. His firm has been closely allied with Muscogee County School District’s innovative Summer Learning Experience, bringing over 400 programs over two summers. FABArts also is in charge of one day in the After School Enrichment Program at Clubview Elementary School in Columbus GA. He is married to Marquette McRae McKnight, and they have 4 grandchildren (plus one on the way) – all in Columbus.
Dean of Academics, Albany Technical College
1704 S Slappey Blvd,
Albany, GA 31701
My name is Angela Robinson, and I am Dean of Academic Affairs of the Early Childhood Care and Education Program at Albany Technical College. I entered the educational arena 29 years ago, beginning my teaching career with the Sumter County School System. I served there as a kindergarten teacher and as a Science Lab teacher. I later began working for Albany Technical College, as I diligently served as the ECCE Program Chair and as the Director of the ECCE Child Development Demonstration Center. I now serve as Dean of Academics for Education and Personal Service. All my endeavors in education have been rewarding. I have had the pleasure to teaching both children and adults in this critical field. I received both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Early Childhood Education from Georgia Southwestern State University and my Specialist of Education degree from Troy State University. As you can see, education is my life. It has always been my strong belief that every child deserves a high-quality education that challenges them to acquire new knowledge and skills. Our children need a safe nurturing environment where they can test their ideas as they achieve academic excellence.
Owner/Headmaster, H.E.R.O.’s Instillment Academy
431 Jefferies Ave,
Albany, GA 31701
Tommie Terrell has been involved creating many organizations working with disadvantaged youth. He is committed to embracing positive youth development, informed care and life skills and truly believes in the strength and ability of young people. He Co-founded HEROS Instillment Academy in 2015, a 3 STAR quality Rated afterschool program in Dougherty County. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Child Care Association for District 4 and is Chairman of Albany Technical College’s Early Childcare advisory board. To further his outreach for youth development he created Encourage Solutions, a behavior health company. Prior to the creation of his own companies, Mr. Tommie earned a B.S. in Criminal Justice & an MA in Public Administration from Albany State University. Outside of youth services, Tommie and his wife Tiffany Terrell jointly created A Better Way Grocers, a mobile grocery to combat food insecurity in SW Georgia.
State of Georgia Representative
The children's Trust Fund Alliance:
Alliance National Parent Partnership Council (ANPPC)
Georgia Parent Advisory Council Region 7 Representative of
Prevention and Community Support Division of DFCS
Samanthia Valentine is a single mother of 4 children ages 6 to 18. She has spent more than 20 years as an Educator/Administrator and parent with lived experience she advocates for services to support and strengthen families. Her primary goal is to help equip her community with knowledge and awareness of programs that keep parents and children safely together. Through personal experience Samantha gained a greater understanding about navigating systems and bias, and the importance of parent voice. Samanthia served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with FoodCorps and with The American Red Cross as DRA 3 Preparedness and CV Lead. Samanthia is a proud member of the ANPPC, Georgia Parent Advisory Council Region 7, Strengthening Families Leadership team. She has a BA in Education from Coastal Carolina University, an MA of Mathematics Education from Cambridge College with advanced studies from Argosy University and University of South Carolina Columbia. She hopes to make a difference by reducing the stigma of families asking for help. Samanthia is committed to being a transformational leader, a social change agent, and an advocate because she believes “anything that affects our children affects us all.”
Academic and Outreach Director, Los Niños Primero
471 Mount Vernon Highway NE,
Sandy Springs, GA 30328
Jeannie is currently serving as the Director of Academics and Outreach at Los Niños Primero, where she supports staff with the aim of empowering Latino students and their families through holistic and leadership programs. Jeannie also advocates for students in local partner schools to provide much-needed access for Latino families. She started her career in Florida at an independent school modeled after Maria Montessori's methodology and moved to Georgia where she worked at the first dual language school in the State of Georgia - Unidos Dual Language Charter. Jeannie has also worked for Atlanta Public Schools and Fulton County Public Schools, advocating, teaching, and leading in underserved communities.
Executive Director, Horizons Savannah
824 Stillwood Drive,
Savannah GA 31419
Christy is a native of Atlanta, GA. A graduate of the Women’s College at Brenau University, she holds a BA degree in English and an MA in Education. She has had the good fortune to have been a part of the incredible community of faculty, parents, and students at Horizons Savannah since 2011. She is the recipient of the 2015 Horizons National Leadership Award and the 2017 Generation Next Award recognizing Savannah business and philanthropy leaders.
Charon K Prophet
CEO, Elevation of 5C’s of Prophet
Hogansville, GA 30230
My name is Charon K. Prophet, and I currently stay in Columbus. I’m a 45-year-old male who worked in corporate America nearly 20 years. However, my passion has always been working with families and kids. Therefore, I pursued multiple degrees to ensure I understood the difference in individuals with different backgrounds. My BA is in Psychology, I have an MA in Counseling and Education, and I’m a Certified instructor for Anger Management. I’ve worked in the school setting as a Behavioral interventionists and School Counselor before opening my Afterschool Academic Program. I saw the need for a structured program that ensures students gain the skills that will help them in everyday life as well as in school. My program has been running for 4 years and continues to gain attention from other schools.