Partnership for After School Education

Biography

Milagros “Amy” LaTorres-Rios came to the Center for Family Life in Sunset Park, Brooklyn at the age of twelve and has been there ever since. She was one of the first performing arts program participants, became one of the center’s first youth leadership volunteers, and helped initiate the agency’s first community service project. Before she was even on staff, Amy was working hard to ensure that the Center for Family Life was providing the best services possible to the young people it served.

When the center hired her as a full-time staff member, it became immediately clear that Amy was a “teen magnet,” and her office was regularly filled with young people seeking her counsel on education, work, family, and personal matters. Amy was deeply moved by the strengths and resilience she saw in these youth, and she dedicated herself to developing programming that capitalizes on the strengths and talents of young people, promotes their ongoing skill development, and cultivates their leadership abilities.

Recognizing a gap between the existing Beacon programming for elementary-aged children and evening programming for high school teens, Amy developed a program specifically targeted to the developmental needs and interests of “tweenagers.” She successfully engaged and sustained the involvement of this challenging age group through a diverse array of leadership development and community service activities.

Now a program director for the agency, she oversees a school-based site serving nearly 400 children and teens. Through multiple principals, a school restructuring, and disruptive renovations, Amy’s leadership has helped sustain the program, its mission, and its responsiveness to the needs of families in Sunset Park. In an atmosphere of intense scrutiny and critique by school administration, she has earned the respect and admiration of key school staff, and she has bravely implemented changes and program refinements that were met with initial skepticism, but are now embraced by program staff, parents, and participants.

Amy stands out as an exceptional leader whose passion, dedication, long-term commitment, and capacity to contribute are truly outstanding. With notable initiative and self-direction, she has envisioned, conceptualized, advocated for, and implemented new programs that have enriched the community. Her commitment to youth development, family strengthening, and community building has touched the lives of thousands of youth and families in Sunset Park over the course of more than 25 years.