Next Up for NextUp RVA: Meet New President & CEO Dr. Lamy

Growing up in the New York metropolitan area, Dr. Traymanesha Lamy has fond memories of those middle school years when after-school activities were such a big part of her life. She dove in with both feet into the PEER Leadership program and D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) but nothing brought out her community spirit like P.O.P. Warner cheerleading.

“I felt the love and appreciated those moments where you would go into those after-school and summer program spaces. I felt like I could be myself, I just felt so connected.”

It’s a fitting recollection as Dr. Lamy assumes the reins of NextUp RVA, a nonprofit organization focused on ensuring that Richmond’s youth have access to quality expanded learning opportunities.

Working with a network of more than 80 out-of-school time programs, NextUp is helping youth learn, grow and develop beyond the classroom, and over the past few years, the organization has made profound progress in helping students stay engaged. One extraordinary outcome: high school graduation rates have skyrocketed among students participating in NextUp.

As Dr. Lamy settled into her first days on the job, she made some time to talk with The Phil….

What first attracted you to NextUp?

When I first came to Richmond during the height of the pandemic, I was immediately drawn to NextUp, given my academic and professional background.

It’s so close to what I was doing in New Jersey. I spent 20 years in youth development working at various levels and helped design and implement numerous programs across the spectrum, everything from pre-K to pre-college. I was the founding director of NewarkThrives!, which is the out-of-school time intermediary network in north New Jersey.

All my work has been deeply rooted and grounded in community-centered, youth-centered work. So, NextUp seemed like a perfect match, but there were no openings at the time. Now, fast forward two-and-a-half years later, and they found me. Everything has come full circle.

What is it about out-of-school time that has such an impact on youth development?

What’s really important to understand is that out-of-school time and what happens in school are interconnected. They’re not two separate things.

We serve the whole young person as a whole being. We can’t disconnect what’s taking place during the day from what’s taking place in the evening or during the summer. So, our purpose and our goal is really how do we create a holistic experience for young people that bridges the gap between what’s taking place in school and out of school to make sure they have access to the resources and services, and pathways to multiple opportunities to be successful.

The team here is acknowledged on a national level. The staff is just phenomenal, and they are passionate about this work developing an out-of-school time system connecting multiple partners and program providers throughout the Greater Richmond community to youth and families. I feel like that level of passion, accompanied by the skill that they have, is really what sets NextUp apart, especially with the way they are engaged and the relationships that they’ve built.

Can the model be replicated more broadly?

Absolutely. There’s a lot to learn from what’s taking place and happening here.

The data speaks for itself in a lot of ways. One of the things that I’m really looking forward to, you know, I’m not a behind-the-desk kind of president. I want to go into the community and talk with community partners. I want to meet youth and families that can speak to the impact of out-of-school time. I think the data speaks loud and clear about the success of NextUp as an out-of-school time intermediary network, but I also look forward to hearing from youth, families and program providers directly. Understanding what makes NextUp work for them will help us continue to build a system to increase access to quality OST in the City of Richmond.

This is your first week on the job. Is it too early to ask you about goals?

Deeply rooting myself in the work of the community is first and foremost. I’m also really looking forward to feasting on a strategic plan because I think there are a lot of opportunities there to make sure we’re both thoughtful and strategic as we enter into this next chapter. I want to make sure that the entire community: youth, families, schools, program providers and the business sector see themselves in our plan – our work really depends on our ability to thoughtfully engage the community in creating pathways for our youth to thrive.

Best of luck to Dr. Lamy and the whole staff at NextUp RVA during this new chapter! Learn more about its work and how to get involved here.

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