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CEFAM in action: Parent voices

We’re proud to present Melissa Harding, a parent-leader from CEFAM partner organization MeCAP’s Maine Parent Ambassadors Program. She and her colleague, Joni Sprague, presented “Empowering Parents: Strategies for Successful Parent Engagement,” at the 2023 National Head Start Association Parent and Family Engagement Conference. Read below as she reflects on her growth as a leader and experience during the conference.

What an incredible experience it was to present at the 2023 National Head Start Association Parent and Family Engagement Conference. I remember attending my first conference several years ago as a participant and taking in as many workshops as possible. I’m grateful for the full-circle moment to now lead as a presenter and help strengthen partnerships among parents, educators, and communities for student success and family well-being. It’s a dream come true.

photograph from presenter point of view looking out onto full room of participants

At the conference, I co-hosted an incredible panel with three parents from different Parent Ambassador programs. The discussion was authentic, personal, and deeply meaningful. Each of us shared our story of how we became involved and insight on what parents truly need to feel connected, included, and valued. Over 500 people attended our session! We also had a chance to attend other workshops which was quite a transformative experience. Attending sessions re-energized my love for the work and gave me a chance to grow my network and find new collaborative partnerships.

It feels surreal how becoming a Parent Ambassador has changed my life and helped me grow to be the person I am today. I had the courage, drive, and passion to create a workshop to lift parents’ voices. I’ll continue to look for opportunities to contribute and elevate the voices of all parents. We must BELIEVE that parents have solutions.

MAEC's blog is designed to engage hearts and minds of school and district leaders across the country to engage in issues that you have identified as being essential in education. Opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the organization.

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