A five-sport intercollegiate athlete and natural educator, Danielle Madden-Buck says that she played sports while growing up as a way to stay out of trouble. As an adult, Danielle grew this safe distraction into a passion which she now instills in young people all throughout New York City.
Growing up on the Canarsie/Brownsville border in Brooklyn, Danielle was not surrounded by a network of enrichment programs as a child, so her father opened a gym and provided a space for kids to meet friends, play sports, and stay safe. As afterschool programs creeped into the neighborhood, Danielle immediately engaged, working as an afterschool counselor throughout both high school and college, igniting her love for education. Following a teaching career at St. Edmund Preparatory School, Danielle decided to return to the afterschool field, first as a Program Director at Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation (now New York Edge) and now as the Director of Sports and Recreation for the Police Athletic League (PAL).
In her current role, Danielle is working to put the “Athletics” back into the “Police Athletic League”, transforming PAL’s sports and recreation programming into a vital component of their offerings. Danielle has expanded the organization’s participation in flag football for elementary school students; added sports such as volleyball, rugby, soccer, and an emerging lacrosse program; and developed PAL’s competitive basketball offerings, including intramural competitions and culminating championship play for teenagers. Through the development of written curricula and well-planned youth development goals that focus on character building, teamwork, and resiliency, Danielle has deepened the impact of the afterschool experience at PAL.
Danielle provides the recreation curricula for all of PAL’s twenty afterschool programs reaching almost 6,000 youth throughout the five boroughs. She is central to the programs’ implementation, from training staff to assisting in the delivery of programs to participants, and is creative in using sports to provide STEM, leadership, and college prep training. Danielle has also worked incredibly hard to support PAL’s unique mission of providing opportunities for communication and understanding between police officers and youth in the communities. In her three years, she has created a space for youth and police to play together, learn from each other, and thrive, and relationships between these groups have flourished under the “Cops & Kids Sports” programs. Danielle is currently working on her doctorate in Educational Leadership and Management.