Natasha Smith-Walker brings over 15 years of experience in youth development and education to Project Exploration. Her career has included classroom teaching and numerous administrative and educational roles in Chicago’s out-of-school time landscape, including serving as Director of Education at the James Jordan Boys and Girls Club and Family Life Center and Mayor Daley’s YouthNet Director in the Rogers Park community. She began her time at After School Matters as a Regional Director, managing two north regional areas for the City and then transitioned to Director of Programs overseeing the day-to-day operations of all programming. As the Director of Special Initiatives she helped develop clear benchmarks with program partners and examine the feasibility of new programs to determine implementation.
She has worked on several projects as a private consultant, including a national examination of public sectors in an effort to identify best practices of leadership, and a variety of city-level projects, including Chicago Ideas Week. She has provided technical assistance to small non-profits, specializing in developing quality assurance strategies, program operations, board development, and strategic planning.
She has a BA from University of Illinois at Chicago and earned her project management certification(PMP) from DePaul University.
“The way Project Exploration combines youth development and science education is, bar none, the most exciting idea I’ve encountered in a long time,” Natasha says. “Now that I’ve lead some Sisters4Science sessions, it is so clear to me how important and powerful the relationships between the students and us adult role-models is. We’re really engaging them at their level, and that’s why these programs are so successful. I’m really looking forward to meeting more students and seeing this approach at work in different contexts.”
We already know that the Sisters4Science girls love Natasha, and we know she’ll continue to make a great impression on all of our students.