An Inspirational Leader: Donny Faaliliu

Two Decades of Dedication

ASAS | 6 June 2024

For the past 20 years, Donny Faaliliu, Senior Vice President of Leadership and Community Outreach, has dedicated his career to empowering students in historically underserved communities. He is a cornerstone of our Los Angeles chapter, and the LA Rams recently recognized Donny for his inspirational leadership and profound impact by naming him a 2024 “pLAymaker,” an honor given to only 13 individuals each year.

Donny’s journey with ASAS began in 2004, the year after he graduated from the University of Hawaii. He quickly realized his passion for community service and youth development was more than a temporary job—it was his calling. “When I started as a program leader, I thought it was going to be a pit stop. We were having fun and getting paid for it. And here I am 20 years later, still serving, still loving what I do, and very passionate about the work.”

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Although Donny’s role has evolved significantly over the years, one driving principle has remained constant: keeping the students at the center of his work. “The question has always been: what’s best for our students and families? We can create countless opportunities, but if they don’t resonate with the students, there’s no buy-in,” he explains. Donny shares one program example, a popular cosmetology course for high school students that encourages them to consider small business ownership. Through the program, students visit L’Oréal USA’s LA-based headquarters and speak with industry professionals who help them connect classroom learning with real-world applications.

“That’s how the magic happens,” says Donny. “We’re successful because we create quality, comprehensive programs by bringing together the students’ interests, the staff’s passion, and some truly remarkable community partners.”

Partners like the Los Angeles Rams, who are helping ASAS close the opportunity gap by providing programs and support for local students and their families. Donny introduced two of those initiatives to All-Stars: “Rams Readers,” a literacy program that encourages students to explore the adventure of reading and “PLAY 60,” a field-day-style camp that inspires youth to be active for 60 minutes every day. “These programs are so important to our kids,” says Donny, “and our partnership with the Rams is teaching them about service and giving back to the community.”

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In addition to building relationships with community partners, Donny plays an important role in building a strong, passionate team. “We won’t place just anyone in front of our students. They deserve dedicated, passionate mentors,” he insists. This commitment ensures that the enthusiasm and dedication of the staff translate into meaningful experiences for the students.

Looking ahead, Donny envisions continued growth and expansion for after-school programs across the country. In time, his hope is to see After-School All-Stars serve as a model for all cities and school districts because he believes that every child deserves a safe environment to learn and develop outside of regular school hours. Considering the future, Donny adds one more thought: “When I hear ‘Our youth are the leaders of tomorrow,’ I say ‘No, they’re leaders right now. They’re leaders today. We just have to provide that space and that opportunity, and you’ll be amazed at what they’re able to do.’”

2024.06.06 Donny pLAymaker

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