Think Together’s Helen Welderufael is Named a 2021 “Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders”

Welderufael joins list of 46 young and emerging afterschool professionals under the age of 30 who are recognized for being actively engaged in efforts to elevate the afterschool field.

Think Together, a Santa Ana-based and California’s leading nonprofit provider of afterschool, expanded learning and school improvement programs, is proud to announce the National AfterSchool Association (NAA), has named Think Together Regional Operations Analyst Helen Welderufael, as one of NAA’s 2021 Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders.

Welderufael joined Think Together in 2018 as the Regional Operations Analyst for the San Bernardino Region. In her role, she oversees the compliance, evaluation, data collection and training for one of Think Together’s largest regions which includes 91 schools across seven school districts.

“We’re so proud of Helen and all she has already accomplished during her very promising tenure at Think Together,” said Randy Barth, Think Together founder and CEO. “Her strong organizational skills, reliability and drive have earned her the respect of her peers and leaders alike and we’re thrilled to have her represent our organization among our industry’s top leaders.”

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Welderufael looked to data to help address some of Think Together’s most pressing priorities, which include addressing learning loss for the state’s hardest-hit students. Her dedication to developing a culture committed to understanding data and how it can be analyzed to improve program quality earned her the appointment of Think Together’s organization-wide summer planning committee data lead.

Welderufael’s strong passion for education developed from her attending an afterschool program as a child. “The afterschool program I attended was a safe place where I received mentorship, homework support and lasting memories. The experience contributed significantly to the person I am today and is the reason I wanted to have the opportunity to make a difference with the kids we work with,” said Welderufael.

Think Together is proud to have Welderufael join the ranks of two previous honorees of the Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders. In 2018, Alberto Bajaras, then quality assurance coach for Think Together’s San Bernardino Region was awarded and has since been promoted to Director of Program and Operations for the region. Stacy Galdamez, General Manager for Think Together’s San Gabriel Valley region was named in 2017 and was also a Quality Assurance Coach at the time of her recognition.

In selecting its 2021 Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders, the National AfterSchool Association sought to highlight emerging young leaders who are active in the broader afterschool community, demonstrate contributions that have started to influence beyond individual programs to entire organizations and communities, are actively engaged in efforts to elevate the afterschool field, have a proven passion for the development of themselves and others, and demonstrate persistence in their work to grow as leaders.

“The National AfterSchool Association knows that strong afterschool leaders develop the skilled professionals and teams that run strong organizations and quality programs that result in positive youth outcomes,” said Gina Warner, President and CEO of NAA. “These emerging leaders will help shape the next generation of the afterschool field.”

An estimated 10.2 million young people participate in afterschool programs each year and the industry employs an estimated 850,000 professionals and leaders. The National AfterSchool Association is the professional membership association that fosters positive youth outcomes by supporting, developing, and advocating for afterschool professionals and leaders.

Honorees will be profiled in the Spring 2021 issue of NAA’s AfterSchool Today magazine. Upon publication, a digital edition of the magazine may be viewed here.

About Think Together
Think Together partners with schools and communities to pursue educational equity and excellence for all kids. As a nonprofit organization, Think Together innovates, implements and scales academic solutions that change the odds for hundreds of thousands of California students. Think Together’s program areas include early learning, afterschool, school support services and leadership development for teachers and school administrators. For more information, call (888) 485-THINK or visit

eSchool News Staff

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