March 2012

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Page 36 of 83

workWith MeKay Stevens Putting children's accomplish- ments in the spotlight Don't Miss Celebrating Youth! Young talent will take center stage at the Madison Kids Expo, March 17-18, where Celebrating Youth's collection of performing groups, including WYC's own Hip-Hop 360, will headline the event with performances every half hour. Visit or for more. As executive director of the nonprofi t, Stevens helps guide the organization's network of programs that offer cultural learning and enrichment through adven- ture travel and camp excursions, tutoring and academic support, and afterschool classes in foreign language, art, science and more. she says. Ask Kay Stevens what she loves about leading the Wisconsin Youth Company, and her face lights up with pride. It's seeing what local children can accomplish, "Youth have different needs and our goal is to provide the right mix [of classes] to help them grow," she says. Th e ever-evolving mix of programs certainly keeps her busy, but each spring Stevens and her team also have their hands full organizing the annual showcase of local performing youth groups—from hip-hop acts to Irish dancers—called Celebrating Youth. While the show offers students a chance to experience the thrill of performing, Stevens says she believes events such as Celebrating Youth have a positive impact on the larger community as well. "Th ere's a lot of negativity about youth. So [we say], let's showcase their postive development and talents," she says. Shining a spotlight on accomplishments is something Stevens, 57, spent more than 30 years working toward with the Girl Scouts before the opportunity to lead WYC came in 2007. Since relocating to Madison and settling in, she has found other ways to enhance the community, including the work she does with her certifi ed therapy dog, Derby, visiting nursing homes with the organization Dogs on Call. Whether she's out and about volunteer- ing in her neighborhood or busy behind the scenes at WYC, Stevens continues to fi nd big ways to make a difference for even the smallest members of the community.– Kelsey Sorenson March 2012 35 Photo by Shanna Wolf

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