Hayley Tompkins2017 Rising Alumni

Hayley Tompkins

Hayley Tompkins, who has a master’s in youth development leadership, is committed to creating positive experiences for young people. Hayley works at the Beacons Network, building the capacity of youth organizations and schools. She began her career at Beacons as a youth worker, and rose up the ladder to her current position, which works at a city-wide level. The highlight of her year is a leadership retreat for 150 elementary and middle school students. At a regional level, Hayley leads efforts to align after-school and STEM learning; connect youth workers to professional development; and promote data-driven continuous improvement by providers.


Beacons Network Specialist, YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities - Minneapolis Beacons Network

CEHD Degree

M.Ed., Youth Leadership Development, 2015

Please list any professional accomplishments you wish to mention.

I climbed the ladder of leadership within Beacons – moving from youth worker to lead staff, then on to program director, and now I support the work of all the Beacons at a citywide level.

What is your favorite memory from the University of Minnesota?

I think my favorite memory from the U of M was my CEHD graduation. I was nine months pregnant, and so proud as I waddled across the stage, thrilled to start this new chapter of my life. My son will grow up hearing the story of how he was with me when I walked across the stage to receive my master’s degree.

What professor(s) or course(s) were most influential during your time in CEHD?

The core Youth Development Leadership (YDL) classes helped me to see how other people think, learn, come to know, and understand. The courses challenged me to think about program theory, design, and evaluation - learning how these things evolve and exist in communities and specific contexts. The courses pushed me to see myself, my work, and my world through new lenses - pushing my practice, my perspectives, and sometimes my patience. I emerged from YDL with renewed vigor and more questions than I had when I began. The courses reminded me that I am always learning, and that I should never stop.

What was the impact and benefit of your educational experience in CEHD?

My CEHD experiences helped me to be a more reflective leader and partner in my work and community. The courses challenged me to consider additional perspectives, and question how I and others come to ‘know.’ My professors guided me through thoughtful readings and discussions to see the world and the work through new lenses. My classmates taught me about the depth, breadth, and intersections of the fields of Youth Work, Evaluation, and Education. I learned that I don’t have all the answers, but I feel more equipped, empowered, and supported to explore the work more deeply.

Who has inspired you the most during your career?

I am always inspired by the young people that I work with. I strive to rise to their level of zest, talent, optimism, and commitment to making the world a better place.

Jenny Wright Collins has been my mentor and friend for more than half of my life. I met her when I was assigned as her assistant camp counselor - I was 15 years old. She is the reason that I came to my work at Beacons, and I am proud to still work for her today. She inspires me to keep asking questions, keep pushing, and to keep improving.

What skills are important to succeed as an emerging professional today?

The capacity to live in multiple worlds. As generations and populations are rapidly changing in our communities, leaders must be able to assess, adapt, and take charge or make space when necessary.

I think it’s also important to connect with others (ahem, network), but do it intentionally. Roll with people who think differently from you, who are smarter and farther along than you. Learn from the people who are already doing what you want to do.

When you have 30 minutes of free time, what do you do?

If you find me with 30 minutes free, you can be sure I’m internetting - reading Buzzfeed and listening to something, either to Beyonce or a podcast.

How do others describe you?

I don’t know! So I asked, and here’s what people said, “focused, approachable, knowledgeable, friendly, smart, fun, outgoing, collaborative, engaging, and committed to creating positive experiences for young people.”

How do you describe yourself?

That’s a tough one. I am passionate about the work that I do. Sometimes I talk too much, but I care about what others have to say. I value collaboration and partnership. I try to focus on the joy in the world.

What's a good book you'd recommend to others?

Well, my favorite book(s) has to be the Harry Potter series. I won’t say how many times I’ve read them.

If you could have coffee with anyone from history, who would it be?

I have to say Michelle Obama. I know she’s still living, but she’s a hero and a major historical figure that I would love to talk to.

What gets you excited about work?

I get excited about so many different parts of my work! The part of the work that gets me out of bed in the morning is creating and supporting spaces where young people can belong - democratic spaces, based on power sharing, dialogue, and partnership. The part of the work that I nerd out about is how we can better understand or share how this work happens, and how we can use evaluative thinking to support programs and youth workers.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I thought I wanted to be a high school English teacher. I loved English and thought I could do a great job at inspiring others to do the same. When I started working at Beacons, it became clear that I was really built for more non-formal learning settings.

Outside of your job, how do you grow professionally?

I try to learn as much as I can. I try to have lots of conversations with people who are so much smarter and know more than me. I also read a lot of articles, blogs, papers, and books - looking for new information or ways of seeing the world.

What is a "fun fact" about you?

I started running a few years ago by running away from zombies on the Zombies, Run! app. Since then, I have logged hundreds of miles and over a dozen races!