Michelle Doucette Cunningham Executive Director mdc@ctncy.org

Michelle joined the Network in 2004 and is widely respected as an expert on state level systems for after school and summer programming. In addition to her more than twenty years of non-profit experience, she holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Eagleton Institute for Public Policy at Rutgers University and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Smith College. Michelle’s previous position was the City Scan Project Director for the Connecticut Policy and Economic Council. In the four years she served as Project Director, she expanded City Scan from a small pilot project to a model that is being used in nine cities across the country. Prior to her work on City Scan, Michelle was the Director of Education at the Connecticut Association for Human Services, where she managed the Connecticut Kid’s Count project. She is the author of seven reports on the well-being of Connecticut’s children.

Ken Anthony, Ed.D. Associate Executive Director kanthony@ctncy.org

Ken has been with the Network since 2008, his primary role with the is to oversee training and professional development work, creating linkages between the school day and after school, and working with communities to establish sustainable programs that both enrich and support children and families. He also leads and supports the Quality Advising efforts for State Funded After School Programs. Ken brings more than twenty years of experience in the field of after school and youth development. Ken recently graduated from the University of Hartford Educational Leadership Program with a Doctorate in Education, he holds a Master’s degree in Human Services with a concentration in Organizational Management and Leadership, and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a concentration in Child Development. He has been a presenter at the local, regional, and national level on leadership and creating effective partnerships and collaborations. He authored a book entitled, “School and Afterschool Personnel Reports of Partnership, Communication, and Academic Resource Sharing” and is an area Ken is passionate about. He is the Former District Family Resource Center Coordinator for the Windsor Public Schools, where he administered five family resource centers as well as the Child Care Services Director for the New Britain YMCA and a national YMCA of the USA trainer.

Barbara V. Vita Director, Early Childhood Initiatives bvita@ctncy.org

Barbara is passionate about supporting teaching professionals, community organizers and leaders, parents, caregivers, and children as they realize their full potential. Barbara holds a Master’s degree in Education with a concentration in early childhood education from the University of Hartford, and a Bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in psychology from Central Connecticut State University where she earned her certification in secondary education as an English teacher.
Barbara has been working with children and families for over twenty years. Prior to joining the Network to coordinate the Connecticut Children’s Collective, Barbara’s work throughout the greater Hartford area included serving as an infant & toddler teacher, assistant director and director of various early learning centers, coordinator of a family resource center, and director of a community school. In these roles she has supervised after school programs, mental health programs, playgroups, truancy programs, home visiting programs, and teen youth development programs. Barbara has also taught parenting education classes, 2-Gen literacy classes, and written and facilitated a Kindergarten transition program. Throughout her career Barbara has served on leadership, school attendance, and mental health teams, as well as various school and community planning committees.
Barbara has enjoyed presenting at numerous local, state, and national conferences on the topics of toxic stress, mindfulness, leadership, family literacy, parent engagement, and social-emotional learning. Barbara has served as a member of the Charter Oak Cultural Center’s Board of Directors since 2018 and is active in their gala planning and appears as one of their guest readers for their Read It & Sleep program. Barbara has also been a member of the West Hartford Women’s Chorale since 2010, as well as occasionally singing with Rock Voices West Hartford. Barbara has two grown sons, a baby granddaughter, and a large circle of family and friends for whom she is immensely grateful.

Marla S. Berrios Director of Operations and Finance mberrios@ctncy.org

Marla has been with the Network since 2008, she is responsible for maintaining the fiscal control of the organization, team relations, social media presence as well as provide technical support for all State Funded After School Grantees.
Marla worked with New Haven Public Schools for 8 years before joining the Network. She coordinated and ran the after school program at the Family Academy of Multilingual Exploration. During her time in New Haven, she also coordinated city wide trainings for users of TransAct (formerly Cayen). Marla has 20+ years of experience in after school and Transact Data Collection System.
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Albertus Magnus College and earned a Certificate in Nonprofit Accounting in 2018.
During her free time, she enjoys hiking, camping, stargazing, traveling as much as possible and spending time with her family.

Khadija Bshara kbshara@ctncy.org

Khadija brings over 15 years of experience working in informal education in a variety of direct service and supervisory roles with organizations dedicated to connecting, conserving, and educating our next generation about the natural environment including Zoo New England and the Student Conservation Association. A graduate of the vocational aquaculture program at The Sound School, she holds a B.S. in General Studies from Cornell University with study focused on Education and Animal Science and an M.S. in Environmental Education from Southern Connecticut State University. More recently, Khadija’s personal interests in mindfulness and self-improvement combined with her last role as program director for a youth development organization with an environmental focus, connecting her more specifically to tools and training needed for sharing positive life skills development and social and emotional learning. Khadija joined the Network in 2019 as SEL Coordinator supporting the work of SEL4CT and leading various trainings as a Professional Development Specialist for the Connecticut After School Network. Currently she serves as STEM Coordinator and Assistant Director of Professional Development for the Network.

Monica Boeckmann Whalen Conference and Training Service Coordinator & After School Quality Advisor mwhalen@ctncy.org

Monica has been with the Network for more than 20 years as the Training Service and Conference Coordinator. In addition, Monica serves as an after school Quality Advisor and trainer.
Prior to joining the Network, Monica worked for 10 years in a directorial capacity in the after school and summer camp field. During that time she supervised 11 state licensed after school sites, including a nationally accredited program. She also supervised day camp for elementary and middle school campers, an ocean studies camp, and an overnight outdoor adventure camp. Monica took great joy in working with children, developing staff, and focusing on high quality programming. She continues to focus on providing support for the continuing development of staff and programs.
Monica holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Providence College, a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education from the University of Bridgeport, and additional graduate credits in Elementary Education including Child Development, Developmental Reading, Literature, Science, and Special Education from Central Connecticut State University. Monica has extensive training in afterschool, youth work, and supervision including NIOST (Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College), the YMCA of the USA Program School, and the National Afterschool Alliance.
Monica is the mother of five children and several pets. When time allows Monica loves to garden, sew for her small handmade business, and spend time reading at the beach.

Shawna Viola Washington Quality and Engagement Coordinator swashington@ctncy.org

Shawna is a recent graduate from Central Connecticut State University. She was a Psychological Science major with a focus in Community Research and Intervention. She worked as the Network’s Research intern her senior year and joined us as our first Research & Evaluation Specialist. Shawna is interested in addressing issues of social inequity in the community and has recently developed an interest in addressing disparities in the after-school field. Her internship project this semester helped inform our CLASP “Moving Towards Mastery” Cohort by examining the most prominent problems of practice in the afterschool field. She is excited to get involved with the out-of-school time partners to address solutions and address issues practitioners face in programming. Her hope is to gain fundamental experiences and skills that will help her explore her passion further in doctoral studies in the future.

Aridyan Perez Communication and Design Specialist aperez@ctncy.org

Aridyan joined the Network in June 2020 after graduating from Central Connecticut State University in the Spring. She graduated with a Communications major with a minor in Media Studies. Before working with the Network, she was a Communications Intern at Sodexo where she helped create content for CCSU’s dining hall services. She was responsible for creating new food events that would appeal to students, creating social media content and collecting consumer feedback by distributing surveys. Her work at the Network includes managing the social media accounts, creating content, tracking social media numbers and creating strategies to engage followers.

Ashton Gauthier Director of Social-Emotional Learning Initiatives agauthier@ctncy.org

Ashton joined the Network in April 2023. She is a former 21st CCLC and State After School Grant Program Director with extensive experience working with out-of-school time programs to develop strategies to promote positive learning climates and support all learners' social and emotional well-being.

Her most recent work was adapting a free Social and Emotional Learning approach specifically for out-of-school time programs. She hopes to continue strengthening and prioritizing SEL skills, trauma-informed practices, and emotional well-being in Connecticut.

Ashton received her graduate certification from the University of New Haven and her Bachelor of Science from Southern Connecticut State University. She is active on the Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Chamber Foundation board and a volunteer coordinator with the Postpartum Support International Connecticut. Ashton enjoys DIY home and craft projects, food, wine, and spending time with her family of three.

Dan Holland Administrative Assistant dholland@ctncy.org

Dan graduated from the College of Charleston in 2015 majoring in Public Health. Since then, most of his professional career has been focused on Oncology. Dan started as a Care Coordinator at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and eventually transitioned into Medical Communications to work on a variety of chemotherapy drug launches.

A native of West Hartford, and graduate of Conard High School, Dan moved back to the area in 2022 and decided that he wanted to give back to the community that provided so much for him in his youth.

He has a passion for equitable family services for all. With a heavy focus working with the Connecticut Children’s Collective Dan looks forward to enhancing and spreading our services to reach more CT residents.

In his free time Dan enjoys gardening and spending time with his two dogs, Bosco, a Chocolate Lab and Bunny, a Golden Retriever.


Board of Directors


Sarah Moran EDADVANCE Chair
Deb Battit COMMUNITY FOUNDATION OF EASTERN CT Vice Chair
Kim Hein TAUCK FAMILY FOUNDATION Secretary
Wendy Gerbier NORWALK HOUSING AUTHORITY Treasurer
Don Maleto ALLIANCE OF BOYS & GIRLS CLUB Executive Director
Brittany Bergstrom EAST HARTFORD PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Viviana Conner NEW HAVEN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Elwyn Brewster Quirk, Esq LAW OFFICE OF EB QUIRK, LLC
Reyanne Neal STAMFORD JCC
Annette Santana OPMAD
Maggie Winiarski CITY OF NEW BRITAIN PARKS AND REC DEPT