Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Kayleigh Colombero, Executive Director
Written by Cristina Masurat (2012-2013 Graduate Fellow) 

          Everyone at Project Coach is very excited to welcome Kayleigh Colombero as the new Executive Director at Project Coach. Kayleigh comes to PC with many years of valuable experience, a deep faith in the potential of Springfield's youth, and a strong dedication to the program's future. 

         Kayleigh started her career with PC when the program was just beginning to blossom. As an undergraduate student, she served as an academic adviser and mentor for the developing youth program from 2006 to 2008. The relationships she formed in these early years impacted her deeply as she pursued a career in teaching and formed her long-lasting commitment to urban education. She says that a big motivation for her during this time, and a source of continued inspiration, was her potential as a mentor to change an adolescent's self-perception after years of receiving negative feedback. Though she left Project Coach for several years to pursue different teaching and coaching positions, Kayleigh says that she "always loved the mission of the program, its capacity to change the lives of Springfield youth, and the opportunity to showcase how amazing teenagers in Springfield are." Kayleigh is also very excited to be returning to Smith College, her alma mater. She says that she highly values her time spent at Smith College, acknowledging that the institution helped her develop into "a young, educated female leader early on in life."

         After her time with PC and Smith, Kayleigh began teaching at a small public school in Hadley, MA. While she enjoyed her time in Hadley, she knew her calling was to work with urban youth. After two years in Hadley, she started teaching at Renaissance in Springfield, MA and was inspired by the "amazing assets [Springfield] has as a city that are waiting to be developed." Her love for urban adolescents was clearly on fire at Renaissance, where she started the school's first cheering team. By starting this team, Kayleigh greatly expanded the limited options for athletic involvement available to girls at her school. After only two years, Kayleigh led her team to become the Western Massachusetts champions and brought them to the State Championship in Lowell. Kayleigh's belief that sports have the incredible power to teach teens "motivation, discipline, communication, and the importance of working together" was stronger than ever. 

         Now that Kayleigh is back with Project Coach, she has jumped into her position with astounding eagerness. She has been closely following Andy Wood, the current director of the program, in order to gain as much knowledge and advice as she can. She is learning about the program's complex network of support at Smith and in Springfield, its current trajectory of growth and its day-to-day operations. She honors Andy's legacy and greatly admires his commitment to connecting deeply with teens in order to affect change in their lives as well as his great accomplishment of guiding PC as it expanded into three schools in Springfield. She commends his wonderful presence with teens and staff and the "great wealth of knowledge" about sports that he brings to his coaching and mentoring. While Kayleigh acknowledges that "Andy certainly has big shoes to fill both literally and metaphorically," she is ready to fill them in her own unique way. She is excited to strengthen the Project Coach curriculum, nurture the program's relationships with its partners and continue the program's healthy trajectory of growth. She also hopes to greatly increase the awareness about Project Coach at Smith College, in the Springfield community, and beyond. Kayleigh believes that "improving urban education is at the forefront of the post civil rights fight for equality in this country" and her resolve to further this cause is stronger than ever. 

      We are all so excited to welcome Kayleigh to the program and look forward to a great year in Springfield. 

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