Middlesex Y Staff Receives Prestigious National Award

Mackenzie Steadman, Middlesex YMCA Youth & School Age Program Coordinator has been recognized as one of the National Afterschool Association’s Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders 2021.

Congratulations to Mackenzie!!

She and the 6 other YMCA Professionals receiving this National Award will be celebrated formally at the next virtual National Afterschool Association's annual convention March 15-17, 2021.

The National AfterSchool Association's Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders identifies young leaders (age 30 or under) and recognizes and cultivates the talent of rising stars who have the potential to influence the field of afterschool for years to come.

The selected emerging leader honorees demonstrate:

  • contributions that have started to influence beyond individual programs to organizations and communities,

  • a proven passion for development of themselves and others,

  • active engagement in efforts to elevate the afterschool field, and

  • demonstrated persistence in their work to grow as leaders.

Ken Anthony of the CT Afterschool Network; Ceara Ladue, School Age Programs Director and Chaelyn Lombardo, School Age Care Site Director all nominated Mackenzie during November 2020.

Ken Anthony, CT Afterschool Network “It is with great excitement that I nominate Mackenize Steadman for the NAA Next Generation Award. As an emerging leader in the field, she has taken part in many professional learning opportunities, particularly our SEL CLASP program. Mackenzie is a positive, reflective and thoughtful afterschool professional, readily considering how she could continue to build and enhance her programming with the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) content she was gathering in our SEL CLASP. Her positive, open attitude and contributions to the cohort, enabled her to develop impactful programming in light of the COVID pandemic. While clearly well equipped to advance in the afterschool leadership field with clear experience and potential, she maintains an open mind when it comes to learning more about the work and creating enriching and connecting experiences for youth as well as a generally friendly approachable demeanor. Mackenzie is a reflective practitioner that is an embodiment of best practice we speak about so often in the field.

Ceara Ladue, Middlesex YMCA School Age Programs Director

Mackenzie is the School Age Program Coordinator at the Middlesex YMCA. Mackenzie's work with social emotional learning began early in her career here and she became part of our Character Development Team in early 2020. When programs first closed due to the Pandemic in March 2020, Mackenzie quickly shifted gears and did Mindfulness lessons virtually at least three times per week. During this time, we also ran Emergency Childcare for Essential Workers at the Middlesex Y and Mackenzie made sure to incorporate mindfulness activities for the children at least two times per day. This was so important for the children enrolled as it helped with their anxieties of what was going on.”

Chaelyn Lombardo, School Age Care Site Director

“Mackenzie embodies every quality of an outstanding afterschool professional. She is an outward facing genuine human being whose personal values strengthen her ability to lead. She is the consummate professional role model. She excels due to her personal initiative and willingness to consistently put others before herself. Mackenzie is dependable and reliable. She steps up when others step back. This is best exemplified by her leadership through the initial phase of the pandemic. She took on two roles simultaneously; an unexpected leap into a remote learning model, where she created incredible content surrounding social-emotional learning and mindfulness (sites.google.com/view/mykkafterschoolathome/mackenzie), and also working daily at the Middlesex Y’s Emergency Childcare program with in-person participants.

She never wavered in her commitment to our children. She excelled in both roles, innovating our virtual offerings at one while role-modeling safe effective practices and protocols at the other. Her goal was to make the experience special and safe for our students who were feeling uncertain and confused. She succeeded.

In Summer 2020, she stepped up, yet again, to supervise the OST portion of a pilot program with Middletown Schools, designed to plan their COVID-19 protocols for the upcoming school year. This specific work was nationally recognized (https://time.com/5870132/schools-coronavirus). She has stepped up again, now into a new role as School Age Youth and Program Coordinator, overseeing our 11 afterschool sites and the Distance Learning Program. In her five years with our organization, I have witnessed Mackenzie’s well-deserved leaps from frontline staff to upper management. That progression in itself is telling. It is a testament to her hard work and commitment to the cause, as well as her connection and dedication to the community she serves. She is respected by colleagues and children alike and deserves this recognition.

Learn more about School Age Care Programming at:


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