Celebrating Parent Leaders

Speaker Rena Moran

February is Parent Leadership Month, a time to recognize and celebrate the many ways that parents contribute to strong families and communities. Exemplifying the valuable role of parents in our communities are participants in FamilyWise’s Parent Leadership Program, a group of 19 parents who come together to build their knowledge and skills, participate in state and local advisory councils, and partner with families as advocates for parents’ needs.

In honor of Parent Leadership Month, last week FamilyWise held a reception to honor Parent Leaders. The event hosted multiple speakers, including Rena Moran, a Ramsey County Commissioner, Vicki White, a Prevention and Parent and Family Engagement Consultant at the Department of Human Services, Ann Gaasch, FamilyWise CEO, and a panel of Parent Leaders working for change in their communities.  

The speakers all attested to the importance of parent voices, both from the perspective of family advocates and the systems listening. “I fight so hard for parents of color,” shared one Parent Leader, “because the system looks down on us and they don’t give us a chance to explain ourselves.” Vicki White also highlighted systemic inequities and stressed the importance of making sure each parent’s voice is heard: “How do we make sure we’re reaching out to all communities – tribal communities, urban communities?” White asked. “We need to reach out for parents’ voices, because it’s important for us to hear what parents need.”

A parent leader revceiving her award

Rena Moran is a longtime champion for parent leadership who has dedicated the last two decades of her life to community organizing and supporting families as a member of the House of Representatives and Commissioner. She sees the beginning of her activism as a direct result of her role as a parent, and the desire to create a better life for her kids and her community. She shared, “My work as a parent leader comes from people investing into my life.”  

Through the Parent Leadership program, FamilyWise aims to invest in and empower parents as leaders, and support systems to do the same. “I had my first council meeting last night, and my voice was heard,” a Parent Leader said of his experience.  

The event concluded by honoring each Parent Leader with a certificate in recognition of the change-making work they do with their children, family and communities. Beyond Parent Leadership Month, FamilyWise will continue to recognize and uplift parent voices because, as a Parent Leader said best, “Nobody knows your child like you do… we’re going to fight for our kids.”