Natasha Smith-Walker brings 20 years of experience in youth development and education to Project Exploration. As the Executive Director of Project Exploration she works to ensure girls and minority youth have access to high quality science after school programming. In addition, her efforts have positioned Project Exploration to also lead the development of a STEM Learning Ecosystem for Chicago. Her career has included classroom teaching and numerous administrative and educational roles in Chicago’s out-of-school time landscape, including serving as Director of Education at the James Jordan Boys and Girls Club and Family Life Center and as Mayor Daley’s YouthNet Director in the Rogers Park community. She began her time at After School Matters as a Regional Director, managing two north regional areas for the City and then transitioned to Director of Programs overseeing the day-to-day operations of all programming. As the Director of Special Initiatives she helped develop clear benchmarks with program partners and examine the feasibility of new programs to determine implementation. She has worked on several projects as a private consultant, including a national examination of public sectors in an effort to identify best practices of leadership, and a variety of city-level projects, including Chicago Ideas Week. She has provided technical assistance to small non-profits, specializing in developing quality assurance strategies, program operations, board development, and strategic planning. She has a BA from University of Illinois at Chicago and earned her project management certification (PMP) from DePaul University.
Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative