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BOOST Sweet 15 – Meet BOOST Ambassador Eric Rowles!

BOOST Sweet 15 – Meet BOOST Ambassador Eric Rowles!

BOOST turns 15 – celebrate with us!

As we near our 15-year anniversary, we are reminded of how much we value and appreciate our TEAMBOOST partners and want you to meet them. Learn more about our team members and 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 featuring our BOOST Bloggers, Ambassadors, Leadership Team members, and Partners weekly through the end of the year to thank our wonderful team members for their contributions to our incredible community!

Meet BOOST Ambassador Eric Rowles

Eric is the CEO of Leading to Change in Huntersville, NC. He has been a BOOST Ambassador with us since 2019!

How did you enter the OST, expanded learning, and/or educational field?

I am a product of this work, as my world was transformed as a Junior in High School. I had just moved from upstate New York to Redlands, California (military family) and did not have a network or community. I was invited to a lunchtime meeting with the Friday Night Live program… and realized that I was home. For the next two years, I found a network in the after school community – from key club and speech and debate to service-based programs, safe rides DUI prevention, peer counseling, and tutoring for middle school students.

What motivates you to do this work?

I realized that I had an opportunity to still be involved in OST programs when I was offered a job to work with the Riverside County Friday Night Live program while also attending UC Riverside (Go Highlanders!). I would go to college in the morning and then travel to middle school and high schools in the afternoon facilitating ATOD prevention and leadership programs. I found a family in the Friday Night Live system, and eventually accepted a dream job (after completing grad school) as the Sr. Director of Training for the Youth Leadership Institute in San Francisco.

What are you currently reading or watching?

Secret Identity: I am a huge Star Wars fan and have been asked to make guest appearances as a stormtrooper in full armor at movie premieres and festivals. The joy it brings to others reminds me of when I was the mascot for UC Riverside and also a cast member at Disneyland! So anything related to STARWARS – I’m in it – “Andor”, rewatching “Mandalorian”, and joined both of my daughters to binge Stranger Things and All-American.

Share some of your greatest accomplishments.

One of the “bucket list” items that I’ve always wanted to do is write a book about being a father (I have two amazing teen daughters). During the pandemic, I realized we had an opportunity to write this together – and on Father’s Day of 2020, I published – an incomplete collection of stories, strategies, and sacred bonds between dads and daughters.

What are some big goals you are working toward?

The most immediate big “goal” is preparing my oldest daughter (and our family) for her start of college in the Fall! This means a LOT of campus tours, scholarship applications, financial aid forms, and most importantly, savoring the time we have with her in this phase of her life before her next chapter begins.

What are your top three leadership qualities?

1. Energetic and Passionate – truly believe that either positivity or negativity is infectious. I choose to be contagious with hope. 2. Inquisitive and challenging – always trying to see how things work and can be improved. 3. Mindful of the moment – knowing that we are never guaranteed the next day, hour, or conversation – make the most of the now and learn from the heroes and sheroes around me on how I can be a better human being.

Name a leader that you admire and why?

Maureen Sedonaen – the founder of the Youth Leadership Institute in San Francisco where I worked for 6+ years. Maureen is a lifelong friend of mine and I learned so much from her – how to shower the people around you with support, how to balance personal and professional life, how to take care of yourself in the quiet moments, and how to transform vision and passion into reality.

Share an inspirational quote that resonates with you.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow, learn as if you were to live forever.”

As a child, what were your career aspirations?

I had BIG dreams of becoming a professional truck driver! Or a magician. Or a DJ. Perhaps a professional actor. Or a teacher. Maybe even a youth pastor. And at one point in high school, I imagined how cool it would be to be a professional speaker and travel the world…

What causes are you passionate about?

Children and families. How to support them. How to support caretakers. How to prepare dads to raise their game with their kids. How to make sure that children have access to THRIVE socially, physically, academically, emotionally, and eventually, occupationally.

What is one of the highlights of your career?

Congrats to BOOST for 15 years! This was one of our highlights as well – when we celebrated the 15-year anniversary in March of 2021. At the same time, we had reached our 2,000th training client and brought over 50 amazing professionals into the Leading To Change training team. The growth of our organization has paralleled the growth of my teenage daughter. I could not be more proud of both.

How do you show kindness to others and/or share ways others have shown kindness to you?

Capturing the intentionality of the moment, without distraction. Honoring the opportunity to be a part of someone’s story and time. Words of affirmation, using the word “love” authentically in as many greetings and conversations and departures as much as possible. Being open to learning other love languages. Giving without credit, and giving opportunities for others to also give. And chocolate. Always chocolate!

What career legacy do you want to leave?

We love to see our audiences become WOWED by a really fast, interactive, and unlike-any-other training experience. There is no better feeling than to know that you may have sparked a fire, or introduced a tool to someone that is going to transform the way that they work with young people. If there was one legacy that I could leave, it would be to pass on by any means necessary the tools, resources, and techniques that others can use to capture their passion and present in a dynamic way. Teach a person to fish… but with a flair!

What’s the biggest mistake you made on the job and what did you learn from it?

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts”. I learned the greatest lesson as a leader of an organization many years ago when I allowed the virality of our work to become the focus of Leading To Change, rather than keeping centered on supporting the inspirational trainers that make the magic happen. I’m grateful for the lesson learned but still saddened for the pain that was felt throughout. It’s a scar that I keep in the forefront of my actions as the CEO of this company. “Relationships first, business second”.

Tell us what you had for breakfast!

I had an avocado toast, of course, for breakfast!


From all of us here at TEAMBOOST, thank you, Eric, for being part of the BOOST Ambassador team and for sharing your story with us!

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BOOST Collaborative is a unique, purpose-driven organization committed to supporting those serving youth in the out-of-school time hours by providing quality professional development, opportunities for networking & partnerships, and leadership training. Together, we make a difference.

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