BOOST is turning 15! As we approach our 15-year anniversary, we are reminded of how much we value and appreciate our TEAMBOOST partners and want to share their stories – their journeys through the in and out-of-school time field, their goals and aspirations, a few fun things about them, and some of the amazing things they are doing in their communities.
We will be spotlighting our BOOST Bloggers, Ambassadors, Leadership Team members, and Partners weekly through the end of November to thank our wonderful team members for their contributions to our incredible community!
Get to Know Ambassador Elena Arias
Elena is the High School Program Manager at After-School All-Stars in Los Angeles, CA, and has been a BOOST Ambassador with us since 2022!
How did you enter the OST, expanded learning, and/or educational field?
I was working as an academic advisor with Gear Up Los Angeles at a Middle School in East Los Angeles. The youth I served wanted more than just academics, our youth were interested in being involved, and being part of something that was going to expose them to fun possibilities. I wanted to provide those opportunities, and I was able to when I joined ASAS-LA. It was an instant connection because they were our after school provider. I inquired about working with them and lucky for me they were. I was asked, what can you teach our students and I responded with Weird Science, leadership, and how to stay on track in High School. I was able to work with middle school students for a year and a half and I instantly felt like I and the students were growing together. I was then promoted to a Program Coordinator at 1 of our first cohorts of ASSETS High Schools, where I served the Huntington Park community for 5 years. I have been in the educational field as an Academic Advisor, Program Leader, Program Coordinator, Site Mentor, Program Support Specialist, Operation Grant Manager, and now HS Manager under the same Organization. I have been able to grow, contribute, and help others in the expanded learning field for over 15 years.
What motivates you to do this work?
I feel good when I’m on the field. I love seeing our programs and our staff changing each other’s lives. I enjoy giving back to the different communities I serve. Being part of the expanded learning field provides me with perspective, vision, and it challenges me to be better and develop the next generation of OST workers.
What are you currently reading or watching?
Atlas of the Heart- Brene Brown
Share some of your greatest accomplishments.
- I have been part of the same organization for over 14 years and have been able to be successful in multiple roles.
- Giving great presentations at work
- Having great personal and professional relationships.
- Training and completing multiple marathons.
- I am the mother of a college student.
- I feel accomplished by having a close relationship with my family.
What are some big goals you are working toward?
I am currently working towards balancing my health. I created boundaries and have started going to the gym, to be and feel better. I would like to train and complete another marathon in another city by 2023.
What are your top three leadership qualities?
1. Emotional Intelligence
3. Focus on developing others
Name a leader that you admire and why?
Barack Obama. He was not afraid of taking risks and he is an effective communicator. He leads with understanding and inclusivity.
Share an inspirational quote that resonates with you.
“To understand that if we have to learn with each other we should also learn about each other so we can bring each other up.” – Dr. Christopher Emdin
As a child, what were your career aspirations?
When I was a child, I was curious about a lot of careers. I have always loved animals and I wanted to be a Veterinarian or a National Geographic videographer. I love nature documentaries and I always wonder what it would be like to be behind the camera.
What causes are you passionate about?
Human Rights, Global Warming, Equitable Education
What is one of the highlights of your career?
I was recently promoted to High School Manager and I currently work with 14 HS Coordinators and 3 Operation Grant Managers. It is the first time we have a High School Division and we are moving in the right direction as we are building relationships and focusing on our school site needs.
How do you show kindness to others and/or share ways others have shown kindness to you?
I stay connected and I offer a helping hand when I see someone in need. I check in on my family, friends, and colleagues and offer to listen to them or help them. I am very grateful and fortunate for the support I have from my family and friends, they are very kind to me and help me through the good in the bad. They call me, they listen to my thoughts, we hang out and show understanding to one another with no judgment.
What career legacy do you want to leave?
I would like my career legacy to be that I lead with an open and courageous heart for the OST field. That I was able to develop others, to take chances, and left the communities I served better. I was part of a group of people who gave it 100% when working with our staff, students, and stakeholder, and someone who always stay true to herself and shine through her barriers.
What’s the biggest mistake you made on the job and what did you learn from it?
Not communicating boundaries and expectations. I learned that things will not change if I do not communicate my needs. I started to read and listen to audiobooks about leadership and management to support me through difficult conversations.
Tell us what you had for breakfast!
Two boiled eggs and an apple.
From all of us here at TEAMBOOST, thank you, Elena, for being part of our Ambassador team and for sharing your leadership with us!