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Lori M. Kaplan

President and CEO

Being named Washingtonian of the Year is a crowning career achievement, but for Lori Kaplan, it is just one of many awards and honors earned early. She has led the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) to its national prominence as an award winning network of youth programs in Washington DC since 1987. Under Lori Kaplan's direction, LAYC has helped guide thousands of low-income youth to better opportunity, while creating pioneering organizations and schools. To meet her, and encounter her boundless enthusiasm, energy, youthfulness, and sense of fun, you would think Lori was just hired. "Working with youth keeps you youthful" she says, and having a bilingual son at home under somewhat closer supervision (her son Max), keeps her even more connected. Start doing the multiplier effects for families, neighborhoods and citizen endeavors across the country who have learned from LAYC's lessons, and you will be at the adding machine for a very long time trying to compute Lori Kaplan's leadership effect.

Lori's leadership roles include selection as a board member of Leadership Washington, pioneering the way as a founding board member of The Nonprofit Roundtable, winning the Lewis Hine Award for her work on child labor issues, and steering LAYC to be chosen under her direction by the Annie E. Casey Foundation for its $500,000 Families Count Program honors. Several national organizations regularly seek her advice and invoke the model success of LAYC's innovative programs, including Georgetown University's Center on PovertyThe National Youth Employment Coalition, and The National Youth Policy Forum. She is the founding co-chair of the DC Alliance for Youth Advocates, and was on the founding board of Youth Radio and Youth Media International. Several DC Mayors have relied on Lori's leadership on youth issues, and many DC Council members.

However, it is the honors earned by LAYC under Lori's leadership of which she is most proud of: selection by President Obama's Social Innovation Fund as a key grantee from agencies across America, being pre-selected by Venture Philanthropy Partners for its portfolio of four from hundreds of nonprofits, and having Maryland leaders such as US Senator Barbara MikulskiCongressman Chris Van Hollen, and Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett as advocates for LAYC's expansion to Maryland in 2005.

LAYC is one of the three nonprofits honored twice, most recently in 2011, by the The Washington Post for excellent management practices.

Growing up in San Antonio, Texas, Lori speaks Spanish as well as she does English, and after getting a BA in anthropology at Antioch College, earned her master's in education at George Washington University in DC. A part of her extended family is from Mexico, and parts of her nuclear family hail from El Salvador. Her roots and interests led her to start volunteering at LAYC while a student. While proud that LAYC has been named one of the Top 25 Latino organizations in the US, she long ago widened its focus beyond Latino youth to youth of all backgrounds.

The common thread of Lori's leadership is to pioneer the way to innovation. From co-founding the first public charter school in DC, to leading the first massive multicultural mural painting endeavor in DC, to helping launch several organizations and initiatives, Lori Kaplan is a leader other leaders learn from. Thousands of youth reached by Lori's leadership include dozens of ethnic backgrounds - multicultural reach is a full commitment at LAYC. She is also proud of her role as a co-founder of three charter schools (Next StepYouthBuild, and LAYC Career Academy), and as a founding board member of Asian American Lead, which has advanced the lives of hundreds of Asian Americans.

What lies in the future for Lori's leadership? "We want to expand our reach," says Lori -- "we want our models to be learned from, our success enhanced, and our difference-making to grow." "Come join us!"


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