Our Team


Amy Meuers
Chief Executive Officer


As the CEO of the National Youth Leadership Council, Amy brings more than a decade of service-learning experience to the organization. Her passion and commitment to young people is evident through her leadership of the National Service-Learning Conference for the past 13 years, her commentary through articles and blog posts, as well as her own volunteer activities. Prior to joining NYLC, Amy spent 10 years in the insurance industry working in claims, risk control, marketing, and event planning.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Globe University and an Executive Leadership Certificate from Arizona State University Lodestar Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Innovation in partnership with the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the National Human Services AssemblyShe is committed to transforming community into classroom and inspiring all young people to Serve. Learn. Change the world.®

Dr. Sue Root
Senior Research Fellow

Sue Root

Sue brings more than 25 years of experience in teacher education, consulting, and research in service-learning. She taught pre-service teachers at Alma College for 16 years. While at Alma, she was a regional director of the National Service-Learning in Teacher Education Partnership and co-wrote Service-Learning in Teacher Education: A Handbook. Sue has led the evaluation of several service-learning projects and developed a bank of measures of academic and social outcomes of service-learning. She was the content editor of Growing to Greatness, NYLC’s publication on the state of service-learning. Prior to her work with NYLC, she was a Senior Research Associate at RMC Research Corporation, Denver.

Sue’s recent publications include: Service-Learning by Design; and Service-Learning in Elementary Schools: What’s Developmentally Appropriate? (with Natalie Seum); “Research Demonstrates the Value of Service-Learning: Significant Studies Point to the Value of Service Learning, but the Field Needs More Experimental Research to Firmly Establish the Value of this Approach,” in Phi Delta Kappan, 91(5); and “Service-Learning as a Promising Approach for High School Civic Engagement” in J. Bixby & J. Pace (Eds.) Educating Citizens for Troubled Time: Qualitative Studies of Current Efforts. Albany, Ny: SUNY Press.

Dr. Michael Van Keulen
Vice President of Organizational Development


Dr. Michael VanKeulen was born and raised in Minnesota. He became a high school teacher in 1990 where he developed is philosophy of a family centered childhood development system. In 2000, he left teaching to become better connected to the diverse communities through the public and private institutions.  This work has focused upon increasing the capacity of diverse community stakeholders claiming their authority as citizen in the responsibility of developing our society’s next generations of civic leaders.  With a strong interest in environmental sustainability, human cultural diversity, and social justice, Michael has traveled extensively through Europe, Asia, and Africa – seeking new models of child development and community wellbeing.

Michael has been involved in the development of numerous new programs including; development of NYLC’s Project Ignition, NYLC’s K-12 district-wide curriculum revision, and the nation’s first public schools to provide full language immersion – one Mandarin (2006) and one Arabic (in process).  As the Executive Director for both Open Path Resources and the Education Management Organization, Students Prepared to Succeed, he has developed new ways to connect community and schools to improve students’ educational outcomes.


Dr. James Kielsmeier 

Dr. James C. Kielsmeier has committed his life to transforming the roles of young people in society — building youth/adult partnerships that facilitate young people’s growth from recipients of information to contributing members of a democratic society. In the process, he has pioneered service-learning, an educational approach that benefits young people and communities around the world.

Jim’s work is rooted in his time as a youth worker in Harlem and as a U.S. Army Infantry platoon leader and community relations officer in Korea in the 1960s. His experiences bridge the traditional divide between formal and informal education, having served as a middle and high school teacher, leading Outward Bound programs, and bringing Outward Bound strategies into mainstream public schools. In St. Louis in the 1980s, he developed an experiential model for youth development that featured cross-age mentoring, building trust and community across racial barriers in a desegregating school district.


Amy Cohen 
Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service, George Washington University

Anne Becker
General Counsel, Intermediate District 287

Kevin Days – Treasurer
Director of Community Relations, George Washington University

Katy Dolan
Harvard University

Andrew Furco  – Vice Chair 
University of Minnesota

Greg Herder – Chair 
Mounds View Public Schools

Antwayn Hunter
Intermediate District 287

Beza Gebremariam
Duke University

Lakshmi Meenakshi Immaneni
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Amy Meuers

Riley Quinlan
University of Illinois Springfield

Ronnie Shaw
UPS Northern Plains District

Dr. Rob Shumer
University of Minnesota

Dr. Barbara Witteman
Concordia College

Shira Woolf-Cohen – Secretary
New Foundations Charter School

Laura Coates
NYLC Board Honorary Director
CNN Legal Analyst

Dr. James Kielsmeier
NYLC Board Honorary Director

Nontombi Naomi Tutu
NYLC Board Honorary Director
Race & Gender Justice Activist

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