Earlier this summer, president and CEO of Latin American Youth Center (LAYC), Lori Kaplan, stepped down from the role in which she has served for 30 years. In Lori’s total 38 years with the organization, her leadership has solidified LAYC as a nationally-recognized, award-winning youth organization. Her legacy as a leader, advocate, and trailblazer who has worked tirelessly to make DC and our region a place where all can succeed sets a strong precedent and a shining example for every one of us in the social sector.
As Lori became the executive director at LAYC, the organization first launched programs aimed at promoting youth leadership and advocacy, and began social services and mental health counseling programs for immigrant youth who had experienced trauma fleeing civil wars in Central America. In the years that followed, under Lori’s leadership, LAYC went on to create and further develop programs aimed at addressing youth violence, youth homelessness, teen motherhood, youth job training, and the educational needs of recently-arrived multicultural students. The Meyer Foundation’s first grant write-up for LAYC’s grant application back in 1984 describes a fast-paced organization, which had already gained notable partners including DCPS and DC Employment Services. It reflects a growing organization working to adapt to the needs of immigrant youth. This adaptability has always been one of Lori’s greatest skills and LAYC’s successes. By adapting its program to meet the changing needs of youth, LAYC has been able to both support its youth in new ways and take advantage of new funding streams to create a robust program and organization.
Today, LAYC works with over 4,000 youth and their families in Washington, DC and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland – all made possible under Lori’s visionary leadership. As Lori steps down, Meyer is honored to reflect on the Foundation’s history with LAYC, and its significant growth and reach over the years.
Lori has served as a leader across sectors, a regional voice and conscience, as well as a mentor to so many of us coming up in the nonprofit sector. I experienced that mentorship firsthand when, early in my tenure at the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, I reached out to Lori as I learned to effectively manage a nonprofit. Lori was always willing to offer her counsel, guidance, and much-needed words of encouragement.
Lori has dedicated her entire career to the lives of multicultural youth in the Washington metropolitan region and has been recognized and acclaimed for her outstanding leadership. We will miss Lori’s strength, leadership, and wisdom. But we know she leaves LAYC in good hands, and we welcome and congratulate her successor, Lupi Quinteros-Grady, as she takes the helm.