Youthprise Announces its Leadership Team

Published on October 17, 2011 | Written by

October 17, 2011—Youthprise, Minnesota’s newly established organization created to accelerate leadership and innovation beyond the classroom, today announced that it has completed the hiring of its leadership team.

Youthprise has emerged as one of Minnesota’s newest intermediaries after two years of research, analysis, conversations and planning. Recognizing that youth have nearly 2,000 hours of discretionary time each year—twice the time they spend in school, Youthprise was founded and funded by the McKnight Foundation to increase the quality, quantity, sustainability and innovation of beyond the classroom opportunities for young people in Minnesota.

In March 2011, the Youthprise board appointed Wokie Weah to be the organization’s first president. Ms. Weah most recently served as Senior Vice President at the National Youth Leadership Council and has extensive experience in education, youth leadership and youth development. Ms. Weah brings energy, urgency and high expectations to the job. She says, “Our vision at Youthprise is to lead the nation in accelerating leadership and innovation beyond the classroom. We want to put Minnesota back on the map as a state that invests in its young people; we want to ensure that out of school time for all of our youth is truly enriching and transformative.”

Since her hire, Ms Weah has systematically brought on talented staff to fill out the Youthprise leadership team. “We have a lot of important work to do, and I am excited by the synergy of skills and experience represented on our new team.”

About Youthprise

The mission of Youthprise is to champion learning beyond the classroom so that all Minnesota’s youth thrive. As an intermediary, Youthprise will bring together resources and people to identify and scale great programs and strengthen systems and policy through a combination of research, education, advocacy and strategic investment. Young people will play a large role in developing and implementing strategy at Youthprise. As Ms. Weah states, “Communities (and the world!) will get measurably better when young people are more included, invested and engaged.”

Minnesota’s Statewide Afterschool Alliance, Youth Community Connections, merged into Youthprise in June 2011. Youth Community Connections and its state and local partners bring years of collaborative experience in building and supporting the field through policy and systems development. Youthprise will continue to convene stakeholders around policy, systems building and quality improvement. As Ms. Weah states, “We are thrilled to continue to support the learning communities and policy efforts that have been at the forefront of Youth Community Connections’ work.”

Youthprise will be moving into permanent space by the beginning of 2012. In the meantime, it is housed in The McKnight Foundation offices. As an emerging organization, new information is being added weekly to the website. Please sign up to receive updates.

Contact: Karen Kingsley, 612 564-4858, ext. 5,

Youthprise Leadership Team

Wokie Weah (President) provides executive leadership and vision, works in partnership with the board of directors and brokers relationships for the betterment of the field. Wokie comes to Youthprise with comprehensive experience in education and youth development. She worked for 18 years at the National Youth Leadership Council; serving most recently as Senior Vice President. In that capacity, she helped shape the organization’s strategic direction, cultivate partnerships, grow the funding base, and develop and manage NYLC’s youth and schools programs, professional development, annual conference, and special events. For part of that time she also worked for UNICEF as an Education Project Officer in Liberia, where she coordinated the Support to War-Affected Youth Project, the juvenile Justice Initiative, African Girl Education Initiative, and Child Friendly Spaces for internally displaced children. Wokie received her Master’s degree in Education Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and her Bachelor’s degree from Adelphi University in New York. She is an author and widely traveled speaker; she has addressed audiences throughout the United States and Africa and written extensively on service-learning and diversity. She is a native of Liberia, is married and has five children.

Maya Beecham (Executive Assistant) provides executive support and structure in the office. She comes to Youthprise with professional experience ranging from work in the public and private sectors. She is originally from the historic Rondo Community of St. Paul, Minnesota and is a spoken word artist. Maya graduated from Cretin-Derham Hall and received a BA in Communication Studies from Hamline University. She is passionate about providing all youth opportunities to develop their passions for the good of society.

Sheila Gothmann (Finance and Operations Director) provides oversight on all aspects of finance and back office of the organization. She has 30 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector, both in Minnesota and in Africa. Her background includes 12 years as finance and operations director/CFO for the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota and the Minnesota Teamsters Service Bureau, and more than a decade of experience in strategic planning and fund development. Sheila served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, and as training and information coordinator for CARE International in Mozambique. Sheila is a leader who is committed to the principles of community-based enterprises working to improve lives.

Rudy Guglielmo, Jr. (Program Officer) manages grantmaking and relations with other funders, including the Youth Funders Forum. Rudy brings over 20 years of grantmaking and program development experience to Youthprise. Most recently, he worked as an independent consultant for a number of foundations in the upper Midwest. He moved from Arizona to Minnesota in 2006 to work as a Program Officer at the Bush Foundation. Prior to that, Rudy held Program Officer positions with the Arizona Community Foundation and the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations at the Arizona State University Foundation. He also managed grants and developed arts programs for twelve years as Expansion Arts Director at the Arizona Commission on the Arts. Rudy holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Arizona State University.

Karen Kingsley (Director of Public Policy and Communications) directs public policy and strategic communications for the organization, including supporting and mobilizing the Minnesota Statewide Afterschool Alliance. She comes to Youthprise with 20 years of experience leading public policy efforts to advance the well-being of children, youth and families. Her experience includes work on welfare reform, workforce development, child care and affordable housing. Most recently, Karen led public policy and coalition-building efforts on early childhood education at Ready 4 K. She is committed to facilitating collective action that produces lasting change for families and communities. A native of Philadelphia, Karen moved to Minnesota in 1988 to attend the Humphrey Institute, where she received a Master’s degree in Public Affairs. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Duke University.

Marcus Pope (Director of Strategic Initiatives and Outreach) builds cross-sector collaborations, oversees evaluation and facilitates youth leadership and engagement within the organization. Marcus comes to Youthprise with a rich background in nonprofit management, youth development and community outreach. He most recently served as Associate Director of the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community at the University of Minnesota (U of M). Other experiences include serving as Director of Youth Programs for the Neighborhood Involvement Program in Minneapolis and as a Graduate Assistant/Academic Advisor for the Youth Studies Department at the U of M School of Social Work. Marcus holds an interdisciplinary undergraduate degree in Sociology, Youth Studies and African American studies and a Masters degree from the U of M in Education – Youth Development Leadership, with an emphasis in Program Evaluation.

Elizabeth (Libby) Rau (Youth Engagement Strategist) develops statewide infrastructure for youth engagement in public policy and philanthropy. She has 10 years of program management experience in the nonprofit sector – primarily working in youth leadership development and school-based educational programs. Libby’s job is a creative arrangement to ensure youth leadership in Youthprise – she works half time with the Minnesota Alliance With Youth and half time with Youthprise. She comes to this job share from the National Youth Leadership Council, where she managed three national service-learning programs and provided professional development and trainings including online webinars and a graduate level online course in service-learning. She received her undergraduate degree in Leadership Communication from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa and graduate degree in Philanthropic Studies from Indiana University in Indianapolis.

Visit the page Meet Youthprise for bios, photos and more.

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