Amazing Kids! Staff and Volunteers

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Alyse Rome, Founder and President, founded Amazing Kids! ( in 1998, to provide kids with a positive, uplifting voice that would help them find purpose, hope and a direction in life by inspiring them to:

  • Discover their own unique gifts, interests and abilities
  • Use their gifts in positive and productive ways to make a difference in the world

A former teacher, Alyse instinctively knew that one of the best ways to teach and inspire children to become achievers is by giving them access to the “success stories” about their peers (thereby countering the ill effects which too much exposure to the negative, sensationalistic news about kids too often found in the mainstream media can have on kids). She began researching, writing and publishing the first “Amazing Kids! of the Month” stories for the website when it first launched in 1998. Almost immediately, the world started taking note of these “Amazing Kids”. Within the first four months after launching, Alyse got a call from the producers of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, who invited one of the first “Amazing Kids” to appear on the show with Jay Leno. In the months that followed, Oprah invited another “Amazing Kid” on her show, Brandon Keefe, co-founder of BookEnds, and gave Brandon and his organization $250,000 worth of books.

Today the website continues to be known worldwide as the number one online resource for stories about amazing kids. Educational publishers regularly license the website’s content for use in educational textbooks and other educational media in countries around the world. The website is featured as an educational enrichment resource in the Renzuilli Learning System used in classrooms around the world.

As publisher of the award-winning, kid-created Amazing Kids! Online Magazine, Alyse supervises the production of the content for the web-based publication. Since first launching the online publication in 2000, she has had the privilege to work as a mentor, cheerleader and #1 fan of the countless children and teens who have worked on the student editorial team over the years. One of Alyse’s proudest moments was having her student staff’s amazing work recognized as one of the Top 24 “Great Web Sites for Kids” for 2010 by the American Library Association.

Alyse has also served as an advisor for By Kids For Kids in Stanford, Connecticut, and is a frequent consultant for the Entertainment Industry, helping to cast or book appearances on numerous television shows featuring “amazing kids”, including interstitials on Disney Channel (“Check This Kid Out”) and PSB Go, as well as for television shows such as Ellen, Martha, The Bonnie Hunt Show, and Cartoon Network among others.

Alyse graduated with high honors and a B.A. in Theatre Arts from Cal State University Fullerton, and received her teaching credentials from University of California, Irvine, where she received a Paul Douglas scholarship for her studies. Upon graduating, Alyse taught elementary school in Orange County, California, prior to receiving a fellowship to attend Boston University for her graduate studies in International Relations and International Communications. A former award-winning actress and champion fencer, Alyse ranked 2nd individually in the Southern California Intercollegiate Fencing Conference and lead her team at C.S.U.F. to a first place victory. A published author, Alyse worked in the software industry as a marketing executive before leaving the “for-profit” world to follow her passion: helping kids achieve their dreams.

Alyse believes all children have amazing potential and unique gifts which need to be nurtured and supported so they can have the bright future they deserve. She encourages caring and concerned adults to reach out and help kids in their local communities to prepare for their amazing future, by starting them on the positive path towards achievement today.

Alyse lives with her family in the beautiful Pacific Northwestern state of Washington.


Cate Waters, Webmaster and Fundraising Manager

Cate is a sales and marketing professional in the non-profit industry and has worked with non-profits all over the country in development. She has experience in constituent relationship management, and now focuses on the marketing and design that a non-profit will want for the website and Internet presence; as a volunteer with Amazing Kids!, she has played a vital role in helping to launch our new web designs, working closely with our Student Editor to publish the Amazing Kids! magazine articles on a monthly basis. Cate is a proud Virginia Tech alumni and is finishing her Master’s degree in Marketing at Indiana University; and yes, we know that makes her a Hokie and a Hoosier! Recently married, she lives with her husband Marc, two puppies and one feline outside of Indianapolis and lives for Colts football, her e-reader, and the Indiana country sunsets.


Jenny Ritner, Database Manager

Jenny is a native of Pennsylvania and has served in a variety of administrative support positions throughout her career. She is currently a licensed associate with a financial planning firm. She holds a life and health insurance license as well as Series 7 and 66 Securities licenses. Jenny enjoys volunteering in the community and is a Disaster Action Team Captain with the American Red Cross. She is a front-of-the-house volunteer with the local college’s Center for the Arts and the annual nationally recognized Berks Jazzfest. Jenny also serves as an online “virtual” mentor for several high school students and an online reading buddy for a third-grade student in California.


Shamala Pulugurtha, A.K.O.M. Writer and Researcher

Shamala is a researcher/ writer for our Amazing Kids of Month stories and has been working with Amazing Kids! since 2007. “This has been one of most enriching experiences of my life. Working on these stories is so inspirational!” she says. Shamala is a freelance web content and grant writer who lives in Roseville, California with her husband and four year old son.

Rachael Meinhold, PenPals Manager

Rachael has been the Manager for the Amazing Kids! PenPal Program since August, 2008. “I got involved with Amazing Kids! because I was so excited to find a program like the one we had when I was younger. To be able to offer this benefit to my children, the endless possibilities to learn about other countries and cultures first hand, as well as gaining the opportunity to make a lifelong friend is a wonderful experience that every child should encounter!” Rachael goes to college full-time and volunteers actively in her children’s elementary school. She lives in Delaware with her husband and her three children.


Claudia Lozano, PenPals Assistant Manager

Claudia loves reading, traveling, and volunteering. She graduated from California State University, Fresno with a degree in Deaf Education. She loves working with kids and participates in a yearly pen pal book reading program. She lives in Colorado with her husband and two rambunctious dogs.

Tricia Downam, PenPals Assistant

Tricia is a recent addition to the Amazing Kids! Volunteer Staff. Tricia was born and raised in Phoenix and is a 4th generation Arizonan and 3rd generation Phoenician. She and her husband have been married for 10 1/2 years and have a wonderful 6 year old daughter. When not working, Trish enjoys spending time with friends and family. She loves to travel, play sports and shop. She spent 15 years as a baton twirler, and competed in state, regional and national competitions.


Marketing Interns

Alexandra Bishop, Amazing Kids! Marketing Intern, grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and now attends Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. She is currently a second year student studying Management and Spanish. On campus, she is a member of Phi Mu Fraternity, a member of Case Animal Rights and Ethics Society, and a volunteer at a local childrens’ hospital. She is currently Webmaster for her sorority as well as Secretary for CARES. “I stepped on as a marketing intern for Amazing Kids! because of the incredible work that they do and the rewarding experience that it provides me. My experience interning thus far has been truly amazing, and look forward to see where Amazing Kids! will go next!

Ajibike Lapite, Amazing Kids! Marketing Intern, is a member of the 2014 Class of Princeton University. She is a prospective molecular biology major (pre-med) with a certificate in creative writing. On campus she is a member of the College Bowl Team and Princeton Evangelical Fellowship, and often partakes in community service. She has joined the Amazing Kids! team as a marketing intern because she absolutely loves the AK! Mission and can’t wait to a play a part in future plans.