Ayana Melvan is the Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships for Mission Programs at the Mystic Aquarium, Mystic, Connecticut. Ms. Melvan has long been an advocate for youth of color and lower income, promoting opportunities for them to grow and strive. Ms. Melvan is an Ambassador for the After School Alliance, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose mission is to ensure that all youth have access to affordable, quality afterschool programs by engaging public will to increase public and private investment in afterschool program initiatives at the national, state, and local levels. Prior to her present position at Mystic Aquarium, Ms. Melvan was Senior Program Officer, Youth Development and Lead for the Rhode Island Afterschool Network United Way of Rhode Island and, before that, a Fellow at the Riley Institute at Furman University. Ms. Melvan was recently named to the board of the Rhode Island Environmental Education Association. Ms. Melvan received her Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Film Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, during which time she studied at the prestigious Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence, Italy.