Parent Leader Network group photo.

Parent Leader Network

Radically changing how parents are perceived, engaged, and included

What We Work For

We believe that parents are the best experts on what their children need to thrive.

The EC-LINC Parent Leader Network (PLN) provides a space for parents in EC-LINC communities to collaborate with and support each other, represent the parent perspective, and advocate for parent voice and leadership in early childhood systems. Harnessing the power of parents and giving them the space and support to share their expertise, wisdom, and knowledge ensures that we keep children, youth, and families at the center of our work.

How We Do It

Parents want to improve outcomes for their kids, but face barriers when it comes to working with early childhood systems of care.

Structural racism and bias prevent many parents of color from being true partners and leaders in their child’s healthy development and early learning. The Parent Leader Network works to address that, by bringing together parents from across the country to collaborate, build leadership skills, advance racial equity, and advocate for change in early childhood systems.

The Parent Leader Network seeks to strengthen parents’ leadership and expertise in priority action areas such as equity, early childhood systems, and parent engagement. It increases parents’ access to peer-to-peer education, support, and paid leadership opportunities.

In addition, a group of parents and agency staff worked in collaboration to develop the Manifesto for Race Equity & Parent Leadership in Early Childhood Systems, a guiding document for early childhood agencies. Members of the Parent Leader Network are tasked with using the Manifesto to build a movement centered on racial equity wherein:

  • System leaders acknowledge the ways that agency policies, procedures, staffing, and culture create barriers to equity and parent engagement and respond by making changes and improving collaboration; 
  • Early childhood agency staff reflect the diversity of the community; 
  • Systems work to improve families’ access, experiences, and outcomes.

More than 25 parent leaders from 10 EC-LINC communities are participating in the PLN. A small steering committee represents parents across multiple communities to plan and lead the Network’s strategies. All PLN members work to promote the Manifesto for Race Equity and Parent Leadership in Early Childhood Systems both locally and nationally.

We believe that:

  • Parents should be at the center of the work of early childhood agencies and systems; 
  • Parents should be participating at all levels from planning to budgeting to decision-making;  
  • Parents should be valued as experts; and 
  • Parents should be powerful leaders in their communities and beyond.

A group of 40 parent leaders and agency staff from nine EC-LINC communities, with support from CSSP staff and consultants, came together to create this Manifesto for Race Equity and Parent Leadership in Early Childhood.

Parent Manifesto Large Cover   Parent Manifesto Spanish Large Cover
Download the English version of the Manifesto here.   Download the Spanish version of the Manifesto here.




We spoke with some Parent Leaders at the inaugural gathering of the Parent Leader Network (PLN) in 2019. These videos (both the abridged and original cuts) capture what it means to them to be on the PLN and why they are so committed to doing this work.

View a shorter version of this video here.

Parent Leader Network Founding Members

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Boston, MA – Deena Smitherman and Lisa Melara

Kent County, MI – Anthony Queen

Hartford, CT – Caroline Austin




Parent Leader Network Steering Committee

Parent Leader Network Steering Committee members are elected for a one-year term to represent parents in their communities as the decision-making body of the Parent Leader Network, plan and lead Network strategies, and promote the Manifesto locally and nationally.  Up to two parent leaders from selected EC-LINC communities can serve on the Steering Committee.

Boston, MA

  • Huong Vu
  • Meghan Savicke

Guilford County, NC

  • Katina Allen

Kent County, MI

  • Shanequa Mosley

Multnomah County, OR

  • Ekaterina “Katya” Antonovich

Onondaga County, NY

  • Sierra McMahon

Palm Beach County, FL

  • Brandon Lavin

Santa Ana, CA

  • Diana Paz
  • Dulce Sanchez

Ventura County, CA

  • Blanca Fernandez
  • Chrystal Tipping

Our Experts

Arthur Argomaniz portrait.

Arthur Fidel Argomaniz

Senior Program Analyst
He, Him, His
Lia Hsu-Rodriguez portrait.

Lia Hsu-Rodriguez

Program and Research Assistant
She, Her, Hers