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Just for Kids School Age Director Kristina Kleeh Awarded The Network for Youth Success 2022 Quality Leadership Award

by Marketingintern
Fri, Apr 8th 2022 09:00 am

Just for Kids School-age Director, Kristina Kleeh, has been awarded The Network for Youth Success 2022 Quality Leadership Award! 

This award spotlights exceptional leadership by an afterschool, summer, or expanded learning site director, supervisor, or coordinator. This prestigious award requires recipients to:

  • Have five or more years of experience in directing afterschool, summer, or expanded learning education, or must be a non-profit administrator that advocates on behalf of their afterschool program;
  • Understands the critical value of quality afterschool, summer, or expanded learning programs in the developmental needs of youth;
  • Must make significant contributions to the afterschool, summer, or expanded learning field, which could entail being actively engaged with a youth development organization, providing training in the field, or advocating for the afterschool movement and profession.


The Network for Youth Success has a mission to strengthen the capacity and commitment of communities, programs, and professionals to increase access to high-quality programs and services beyond the traditional classroom setting.


Kristina will be recognized at the School's Out, Make it Count! 2022 Annual Conference.


Nomination letter from Kari Hartman:

It is my honor to nominate Kristina Kleeh, MA/CAS, Director of Just for Kids School-Age Programs, to receive the Network for Youth Success Quality Leadership Award. More than 15 years ago, Kristina was quick to identify the need for high-quality, affordable, and enriching before- and after-school programs in Western New York. She got to work and created a new model of school-age programs called Just for Kids, under the non-profit, charitable organization, Child Care Network of the Niagara Frontier. Under her leadership, the program has grown to 16 schools serving almost 800 children between the ages of 4-12, and employing over 125 direct care staff. In addition to school-year programming, Just for Kids also offers break camps and summer day camps across the region. Kristina has built solid collaborative relationships with many community partners, school teachers and administrators, other non-profit organizations and service providers, and advocates of quality child care. These relationships are professionally nurtured and serve to enhance the out-of-school-time program experience for the kids we serve and their families. Almost two years ago, when the COVID-19 pandemic impacted school operations such that the Just for Kids programs shut down, Kristina worked quickly and efficiently to arrange for a space to run a full-day school-age child care program for essential workers. Within a week, that program was up and running, providing a safe place for the children whose family members were deemed essential for work in health care, law enforcement, etc. She led us in pivoting many times throughout this pandemic, opening virtual learning centers for kids whose schools began hybrid schedules, looking for new and innovative opportunities for Just for Kids to maintain its viability and serve the community, and applying for all available operational grants to supplement the significant loss in revenue. Kristina has always been involved in initiatives that support the industry, its staff, and the children being served. She is currently involved in the After-School Network of WNY, a focus group for a Cornell study on quality school-age child care, a Title Grants committee for one of the local school districts, and legislative efforts to keep child care top of mind with our elected officials. Kristina, rightfully so, has become a very well-respected leader in the school-age child care community of Western New York. She is a researcher, is solution oriented, service driven, and focused on the organization’s mission. And yes, she pushes staff to work hard, she asks us difficult questions and encourages us to problem solve, she challenges us to grow in our field . . . and yes, because of Kristina’s leadership, the Just for Kids staff, the children we serve, and their working families will feel fully supported in reaching their full potential. 


Congratulations, Kristina!