Our Story

The first Beacon Centers opened in New York City in 1991. Imagine that you were walking along a block in New York City in January at 4pm and passed a school. What you would have seen was a building with gates locked and the lights off but children playing on the sidewalk across the street. This did not make any sense so Commissioner Murphy and Mayor Dinkins had an idea. What if we reactivated this public space and turned this cold, dark, empty closed school building in a vibrant hub for the community outside of school hours. What if this school could serve as a “Beacon” of light? And thus the Beacon Centers were born. Inspired by this model leaders from across the country flew to New York and began to open Beacon Centers in cities across the country. Today there are Beacons in 5 cities, New York, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Denver and San Pablo. Through this network of youth and adult leaders we strive to work towards a day where all children have access to the support and opportunities they deserve to thrive.

The Beacon National Network is a membership organization of leaders from across the various Beacon cities, who support each other’s work through sharing tools, resources and learning. We are stronger together and benefit from working collaboratively across our diverse communities. We can not do this work alone. With a deep commitment to learning and developing high quality services for our youth, families and communities our network benefits from sharing our wisdom, experiences and tools.

Our Team

Pam Pradachith-Demler

Executive Director

Pam Pradachith-Demler joined the Beacon Family in 2018, as the Executive Director for the Beacon National Network. Her work with Beacons is grounded in her lifelong commitment to social justice and equity. As a refugee to this country, Pam attended afterschool and summer programs at the East Bay Asian Youth Center, where she later worked as a youth organizer in the 1990s. Since then she has dedicated her career to ensuring all children, youth and families have access to opportunities that unlock their passion and potential.

Before joining the BNN, Pam spent over 20 years in the nonprofit sector working and leading efforts in Youth Development, Workforce and Education. Pam received a Masters of Public Administration in Non-Profit Management and Policy from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service and a B.A. in Urban Studies and Sociology from Columbia University. Pam was selected as a Bill & Melinda Gates Millennium Scholar in the inaugural year of the program and was awarded a Clark Foundation Fellowship for Public Service.

Pam lives in a historic home located in a small rural village in upstate New York with her extended family. Pam is the mom of Weston Otis and Elliot Roslynn. Pam is passionate about the healing powers of good food, friends and a holistic approach to wellness.

Erica Hernandez

Program Manager

Erica Hernandez presently serves as Program Manager for the Beacon National Network, as well as for the San Francisco Beacon Initiative.

Growing up as a second generation immigrant in a historically underserved neighborhood, her upbringing has influenced the way she approaches her work. Erica is dedicated to and passionate about supporting youth, families, and communities. She has worked with youth development nonprofits since 2003 and has loved the experiences and skills she’s gained. Her most treasured experience was working at Visitacion Valley R.O.C.K. Beacon for seven years starting as a Summer Program Counselor and Tutor and ending as a Beacon Director.

She attended San Francisco State University where she earned a B.A. in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Ethnic Studies. She also has Minors in Asian American Studies and Health Education.

Erica still lives in the neighborhood where she grew up and is raising two future leaders of America, Liam and Lucas. She loves traveling with her partner, dessert, hanging out with her best friends, and watching cheesy romcoms on Netflix.

Want to learn more about us?

Interested in learning more about what we do? Are you curious about our model and approach to building and sustaining a network of high quality program for the past twenty years?