Meet Amalia M Cristiano, Senior Analyst at KABOOM, a non-profit organization that “works with communities to build incredible, kid-designed play spaces that help give kids in every zip code the opportunity to thrive”.
Amalia is a dedicated analyst who uses her creativity through data to influence change in society. She has been working in the non-profit sector for the past three years. Currently, she is based in San Diego and is overseeing the project requirements of the KABOOM remotely. She joined the organization as a Project Manager and was soon promoted to the position of a senior analyst owing to her willingness to try out new things and devoting time and resources to help her colleagues. This also gave her a chance to expand her skills in data collection and analysis, even though it wasn’t her area of expertise.
Growing up in New Jersey, Amalia’s parents always emphasized on the importance of education. She attended private schools that promoted community service. This incited her interest in non-profit organizations and supporting the community. She attended San Diego State University, where she majored in History and Interdisciplinary Studies. She has a Public Safety Inspector Certification for playground safety and also is a certified Associate in Project Management. She is also a public health advocate and stresses on the benefits of physical activities. When not working, one can find her surfing, running and hiking outdoors in San Diego.
Talking more about her organization, Amalia says, “KABOOM! is a national nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. whose mission is to end playspace inequity in the United States. We amplify the power of communities to build inspiring play spaces that spark unlimited opportunities for kids everywhere. We believe that all kids deserve access to high-quality play spaces where they have the opportunity for physical and socioemotional development and of course, to have fun! Since KABOOM!’s inception 25 years ago, we have built over 3,000 playspaces across the United States, as well as in Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico”. They are working to turn everyday spaces into play spaces to encourage kids to play. In her two years at the organization, Cristiano has successfully led 10 playground safety projects that have impacted around 1500 children.
Prior to KABOOM, Cristiano worked as an AmeriCorps service volunteer at United Way of San Diego County, which helped her realize that she wanted to continue working in the nonprofit industry. When asked about the challenges she faced in her career, Amalia says that initially, she was hesitant to speak up in meetings and to her colleagues high up on the ladder. She feels due to this people tend to overlook you and the colleagues feel you have nothing to offer. She works on it every day and encourages other women to voice their opinions and ideas as much as possible.
Amalia is a hardworking team player and believes that her habit of saying yes to every opportunity presented to her has helped propel her career. Leaving an inspiring message for the readers, she says, “Don’t be afraid to try new things through the form of additional opportunities at your organization, even if it is outside of your comfort zone or area of expertise. You never know what doors it may open for you! But don’t forget to have a work/life balance as well. I’ve found I’m at my best when I have time to enjoy activities that rejuvenate me, like surfing or spending time with friends and family. The best way to show up for yourself and your organization is to take care of your mental and physical health to avoid burnout”.