Leadership: A Journey to Enacting Change


  • Heidi Ham National AfterSchool Association




anti-racism, equity, leadership development, professionalization


Leadership development is a journey that occurs as circumstances change. In the dual pandemics—COVID-19 and heightened awareness of racism—and beyond, leaders must continue their development journeys by listening, reflecting, learning, and acting against racism and racist systems and practices. This article by the vice president of programs and strategy for the National AfterSchool Association features the voiced perspectives of field leaders who identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color that may help you shape your journey.

Author Biography

Heidi Ham, National AfterSchool Association

Heidi Ham is the Vice President of the National AfterSchool Association (NAA), a product of afterschool programs, a long-time NAA member and leader in national youth work. Ms. Ham holds a historical and national perspective with expertise that mirrors her experience in producing quality programs and professional development. At NAA, Ms. Ham works to foster positive youth outcomes by supporting developing and advocating for afterschool professionals and leaders. Her work drives many of NAA’s offerings, including the Core Knowledge and Competencies for Afterschool and Youth Development Professionals, the NAA Professional Credentialing System, virtual PD offerings, and the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards efforts. Her recent work includes co-authoring Core Competencies for the OST field, a chapter in The Growing Out-of-School Time Field: Past, Present, and Future Journal and SEL to The Core: Building From Foundational Youth Development to Support Social And Emotional Learning.

Prior to NAA, Heidi was a Senior Quality Advisor for an organization with afterschool programs nationwide. Ms. Ham has earned K-12 teaching certification, a Bachelor’s degree in social science and education and a graduate certificate in training and development.


Castillo, L. (2021, Spring). Teaching, learning, and playing with dignity and justice: What leaders must do to ensure building culturally responsive afterschool programs. AfterSchool Today, 12(1), 46-47.

Estrada, S. (2021, Spring). A Demand for Leaders, the lack of space. AfterSchool Today, 12(1), 12-13.

Mckenzie Parpia, Z. (2020, Fall). Youth development as an antidote to white supremacy culture. AfterSchool Today, 11(3), 5-6.

Okun, T. (n.d.). White supremacy culture. https://collectiveliberation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/White_Supremacy_Culture_Okun.pdf

Quiroga Hopkins, J., & Obel-Jorgensen, R. (2020, Fall). Race and equity: Transforming organizations for the long haul. AfterSchool Today, 11(3), 26-27.

Saydum, S., & Quiroga Hopkins, J. (2021, Spring). Beyond PLCs: Building a pipeline for leaders of color. AfterSchool Today, 12(1), 10-11.






Thought Leader Commentary