From 2015 to 2021, Eric served as President & CEO of LA’s BEST Afterschool Enrichment Program, a partnership of the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the private sector serving 25,000 children at nearly 200 Los Angeles elementary schools. Eric joined LA’s BEST as the second President & CEO in the organization’s history. During his tenure, LA’s BEST helped to lead a statewide advocacy movement that led to close to $200M in increased funding for expanded learning programs, secured the largest private donation in organizational history ($2M), spearheaded an initiative for LA’s BEST to become the first large-scale trauma-informed expanded learning system in the nation and completely revamped the organization’s visual branding and messaging.
Eric brings a deep commitment to positive youth development to his work, and a national reputation for thought leadership in the Expanded Learning movement. He also brings a nuanced understanding and appreciation for how children learn and develop, and a passion for staff and program development.
Prior to leading LA’s BEST, Eric was the founder, President and CEO of Development Without Limits, where he led a team that designed and facilitated staff development, curriculum and other resources for community organizations and schools nationwide. While at Development Without Limits, Eric created Please Speak Freely, a podcast where he interviewed leading thinkers, artists and others to shed light on key issues and explore different perspectives about youth development and education.
In the late ‘90s, Eric also served as LA’s BEST’s first Director of Staff Development. In that role, he was immersed in LA’s BEST values and operations, and codified the organization’s values, youth development principles and staff development practices.
Eric has presented keynotes and workshops for dozens of organizations and conferences nationwide. In 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown appointed Eric to the California Department of Education’s Before and After School Advisory Committee, and he is a member of the California Afterschool Advocacy Alliance Steering Committee.
Eric holds a B.S. in Political Science from the University of California at Irvine and an M.S. in Urban Policy Analysis and Management from the New School for Social Research in New York. He has participated in several intensive professional development experiences, including Foundations for Systems Leadership with Peter Senge, Trauma-Informed Practice with Pia Escudero, Open Space Technology with Harrison Owen and Theater of the Oppressed with Augusto Boal.
LinkedIn: Eric Gurna