Brenda McLaughlin

Co-Lead, Summer and Afterschool Community of Practice
The National Comprehensive Center

Brenda has worked at the intersection of education and youth development research, policy and practice for 20 years, translating key learnings to positively influence the well-being of youth and their families, and strengthen organizations and systems. Her insight and expertise have led state education agencies, school districts, nonprofits, philanthropies and communities to expand their capacity and better serve young people. As The Learning Agenda’s Founding Partner and Senior Advisor, Brenda offers strategic guidance and coaching, plans and facilitates learning communities and events, engages in research projects, and develops tools and resources to build the capacity of the field. She is currently leading capacity-building efforts for 21st CCLC programs across the State of Arizona, co-leading the Strategic Use of Summer and Afterschool Set-Asides Community of Practice for the National Comprehensive Center at Westat; leading Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) Additional Days School Year Planning and Execution Program (ADSY PEP) Full Year Redesign, which includes strategic plan process design and review, project management, and compliance monitoring dashboard development; and she previously led capacity-building efforts for districts engaged in The Wallace Foundation’s National Summer Learning Project. Brenda founded The Learning Agenda in 2011, and rejoined the team in 2022 after serving as Chief Impact Officer at BellXcel and launching The Sperling Center for Research and Innovation – a division of BellXcel focused on elevating the quality and impact of summer and afterschool programs nationally. Within that role, she designed coaching systems to support the TEA’s ADSY PEP Summer grantees to meet initiative requirements and apply evidence-based practices. She also served as vice president at the National Summer Learning Association from 2004 - 2011, leading research, evaluation, and strategic initiatives.