Leaders Leveraging Lived Experience for Impact

The Forum for Youth Investment is home to deeply committed professionals who leverage their diverse lived experiences to strengthen youth-serving systems and organizations. This vision and dedication permeate the work of leaders like Sheely Mauck, Director of Equitable Quality Improvement Systems, and Amanda Heckenkamp, Communications Manager.

With nearly a decade of steering impactful youth development initiatives, Sheely brings indispensable expertise to her new appointment on the American Camp Association’s Board of Directors. Her childhood experiences attending camp sparked a lifelong calling to create enriching, inclusive camp environments where all young people can thrive. Sheely reflects, “Camp was where I felt the most free to take risks, try new things, and discover who and what type of leader I wanted to be.” With an explicit focus on accessibility, cultural responsiveness, and racial equity, Sheely now lends this expertise to help shape the future trajectory of youth camps nationwide.

Meanwhile, Amanda’s communications talents have provided pivotal support in spreading the Forum’s message and mission. Her passion for elevating youth programs stems from her formative years participating in afterschool programming at Neutral Zone, a diverse, youth-driven teen center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She attributes her leadership opportunities and positive relationships with staff there to recognize her potential and spurring her professional journey. With such a personal understanding of quality youth development experiences, Amanda translates her gifts into amplifying the field. She was recently recognized as one of the National AfterSchool Association‘s 2024 Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders. Expressing her gratitude for the recognition, Amanda says, “I’m honored to be recognized among such talented individuals who are making an impact in afterschool across the country.”

Sheely and Amanda’s accomplishments vividly demonstrate the result of merging expertise with personal dedication, fueled by real-life experiences. At the Forum, we champion these talented leaders and the many others devoted to enriching systems and opportunities for young people nationwide. Their vision and commitment breathe life into the work.