City Year's leadership development program, LEAD, strives to support and develop high-potential staff leaders in order to cultivate future site leadership and accelerate the organization's growth. 

In 2015-16, eight talented leaders from across the organization participated, focusing specifically on developing toward executive-director and new site start-up director positions - roles that are critical to City Year achieving its Long-Term Impact goals. Curriculum was designed to strengthen participants’ leadership competencies and business acumen and included focused learning opportunities, access to mentors, an experiential learning project, and individual development plan coaching. 

Meet The 2015-16 LEAD Team 

Bryn VanAlstyne City Year Boston

Bryn VanAlstyne, Impact Director, City Year Boston *

Why I work at City Year: City Year prepared me for the next steps in my young professional life when I was in the corps 15 years ago and I have an innate connection to both the mission and values of the organization

5 or 10 Year Career Plan: Running a non-profit in California and raising a family 

What I wanted to be when I was kid: Pediatrician 

The best part about LEAD: Having recognized the power and influence in embracing my authentic self and my authentic leadership style. 


Antonio “Tonii” Richardson, Impact Director, CIty Year Washington DC*

Why I work at City Year: I work at City Year because there is a concern with equity in education in America that City Year has seen and is working on and I want to be apart of that.

5 or 10 Year Career Plan: Executive Director or Start-Up Director for City Year in either Houston or Oakland and starting a family.

What I wanted to be when I was kid: Astronaut

The best part about LEAD:The best part about LEAD has been finding the true meaning in leading authentically and continuing to use my peers as thought partners as I continue my journey with City Year.

Nina Barker City Year Boston

Nina Barker, Senior Director of Development, City Year Boston 

Why I work at City Year: I believe that all children can succeed if equipped with the right skills and opportunities, and I believe City Year is uniquely positioned to help make that belief a reality. 

5 or 10 Year Career Plan: Helping CYB reach its Long Term Impact goals by raising enough private resources to get us there (and hopefully watching someone I manage go through LEAD City Year as a participant!).

What I wanted to be when I was kid:Teacher 

The best part about LEADThe community of practice I have joined with my LEAD ‘16 classmates!

Heather Turner, Regional Recruitment Director, South Region; sitting in Columbia*

Why I work at City Year: City Year found me in September 2008. My two years in Columbia were two of the most challenging, yet most rewarding years I ever experienced. I saw what City Year does well and I saw where they struggled. I knew by the end of my 2nd year that I was committed to the mission and advancing our work both locally and nationally. I serve with City Year because I want to be an invested member of an organization that is making a national impact on the civil rights issue of our time- Education.

5 or 10 Year Career Plan: Executive Director of a City Year site or Executive Director of my own nonprofit working with middle school youth ( Similar to Big Citizens Hub) 

What I wanted to be when I was kid: Teacher

The best part about LEAD: Their are so many “best parts” of LEAD to name only one. The network of friends across multiple sites and departments, the tools to developing yourself and your team, learning how to become your authentic self, understanding the role reflection plays in your growth and development, and enhancing your knowledge around the organization’s direction and growth.

Huw McDonald City Year Recruitment DirectorHuw McDonald, Regional Recruitment Director, Central Region; sitting in Dallas*

Why I work at City Year: I’ve been lucky enough to see City Year at work in 3 different countries and many different cities, and I’ve seen first hand over and over again the difference that a diverse group of young people working together can make. We’ve done so much together, but there is still a lot of work to be done, and I feel privileged to be a part of this organization.

5 or 10 Year Career Plan: I love what I do, and I hope to still be doing it in some capacity in 5 or 10 years time. What that will look like, we’ll just have to wait and see...

What I wanted to be when I was kid: A chef, helicopter pilot or paleontologist.

The best part about LEAD: A couple of things - firstly, the plethora of tools I was given to analyze myself as a leader, and hone my leadership ability. Secondly, the access I was given to legendary City Year leaders and supporters. It was a real honor to have discussions with people like Hubie Jones, Tushara Canekeratne and many, many more. Overall an incredible experience!

Karen Velazquez-Vargas, Senior Impact Director

Why I work at City Year:  All children deserve a quality education and should be encouraged to not only meet, but exceed their potential.  City Year is in a position to impact the quality of education and instill hope in our children.  

Selfishly, I also want to ensure my daughters have peers that are ready to take the world by storm and serve alongside them as leaders.

5 or 10 Year Career Plan: In 5 years I hope to be an Executive Director at one of our sites.

What I wanted to be when I was kid: Doctor

The best part about LEAD: It is not often that you have time dedicated to reflect about who you are as a leader and are given the space to really focus on your areas of growth.  The personal connections you make with people, both peers and mentors, is invaluable and provides a safe space to analyze doubts or anxieties you may have about yourself as a leader.

Jamie McKnight, Regional Recruitment Director, Midwest Region*

Why I work at City Year: I believe all students and communities have the right to quality education which is the conduit to achieving one’s dreams.  I believe City Year’s service and mission continues to shine the light on education injustices and prevents students from walking in darkness.  By working at City Year, I have the privilege of carrying one flashlight and turning it on with potential corps members, influencers, and community stakeholders in elevate communities across the country.

5 or 10 Year Career Plan: I hope to serve as an Executive Director with City Year.

What I wanted to be when I was kid: I wanted to be a veterinarian.

The best part about LEADThe best part of LEAD is the relationships that I have built through the year with colleagues, learning from City Year’s leaders and advocates, leadership development workshops, and working on the ALP project.

Yevgeniya Bulayevskaya, National Director, Major Gifts Programs

Why I work at City Year: Parenthood has changed my perspective on life dramatically. Fundraising for causes I care about has been my way to dedicating my career to making a difference. And I have always had a strong service and social justice nerve, but these days I am dedicated to playing my part in improving children's lives through education and mentorship. City Year is a natural fit for me for many reasons. If only I could go back in time and serve as a Corps Member!

5 or 10 Year Career Plan:  I look forward to continuing to grow the City Year Red Jacket Society across the country! Its such a joy to see how it has taken off so far, and I know it will grow exponentially in the next 5 years. As for closer to 10, I hope to explore Executive opportunities at City Year.

What I wanted to be when I was kid: Social worker AND fashion designer

The best part about LEADPartnering with this incredibly talented class on our Action Learning Project. Our research together was fascinating and deeply engaging and I look forward to continuing our partnership for many many years to come.

Alumni of City Year*

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