Dear PASE Friends -- It is with profound sadness that I write to tell you that our dear friend Janet Kelley, PASE’s founding Executive Director, died yesterday morning with her family by her side.
Janet was a valued leader, a champion of the underserved, and a close friend to so many both in NYC and nationally, and she will be deeply missed.
The PASE you know today exists because of Janet Kelley. PASE was founded as a group of executive directors volunteering monthly to discuss best practices, to share resources, and to strategize on how to strengthen and professionalize the afterschool field. At the time, Janet was serving as the Executive Director of Project Reach Youth (now part of Lutheran Family Services), an outstanding youth serving agency in Brooklyn, and she volunteered to be a co-chair of the original PASE Steering Committee, which governed PASE for its first 5 years. In a seminal moment in PASE's history, as the work and reach of PASE took off, Janet took a huge leap of faith and left PRY to become PASE’s first Executive Director.
So much of what makes PASE the organization it is today, began with Janet's fierce commitment to our mission and her creative approaches. The PASEsetter Awards, the annual PASE Conference, the Summer Teaching Fellow program, the Emerging Leaders program in partnership with Baruch, and more, all began with her inspired vision. It was Janet’s belief in, and devotion to, the field that led PASE to provide professional development opportunities for all levels of afterschool staff; to share any and all resources we find with the broader afterschool field; and to convene groups, across sectors, with diverse interests and perspectives, to overcome challenges encountered in our collective work. Always staying true to the founding values of PASE, Janet also lifted up leadership within the afterschool field, forging lasting partnerships, building a network, and engaging afterschool leaders in the governance of PASE by including them on the Board of Directors.
Janet was the ultimate connector and the world's best collaborator. Long before “research to practice” came into vogue, Janet was reaching out to the best minds in research and bringing them to New York to meet with practitioners, policy makers and private funders. Janet found expertise among practitioners with the same diligence, looking to those who provided high quality programs, had innovative ideas, had vital experiences with a range of populations, and then encouraged and cajoled them to share their knowledge with their colleagues at PASE conferences, workshops and symposia. Janet was fearless in calling on total strangers if she thought they might help strengthen the afterschool field, and she was so compelling to work with, that most everyone wanted to join her efforts.
Personally, Janet brought me into PASE in those earliest years as founding Board chair and I will be forever grateful. Janet made doing great work good fun. Her laughter, her love of a fine meal, her massive network of friends and acquaintances, and her joyful and sassy take on the world made her a wonderful friend. Janet's keen intelligence, her passion for the possibilities of what young people can achieve through positive youth development, her respect for afterschool educators, and her boundless energy made her an incomparable partner.
The thousands and thousands of young people and colleagues who benefited from her leadership, her inspiration, her enthusiasm and grace will be a lasting testament to an extraordinary woman. I am beyond grateful for her friendship, her mentorship, her generosity, and her kindness.
With appreciation for how large a difference one woman can make, and with my deepest sympathy to Janet’s family and to the legions of friends and colleagues who will miss her -- Alison
Alison Overseth | Chief Executive Officer
Partnership for After School Education (PASE)