We believe that engaging with those who are directly affected by the issues we work on is vital to transformational change. Mothers and other caregivers are hit the hardest by society’s devaluation of care, so they should be informing any steps we take to address it!
That’s why we center mamas and caregivers at every level of our work, whether it’s community outreach, civic engagement, or creating strong public policy. And it’s why we launched Mamas Lead, our year-round leadership development program.
Mamas Lead is grassroots activism at its best: It’s a starting point of political activation for mamas and other caregivers across language, race, and class.
Every month, in Portland and in Salem, we provide a safe space for Volunteer Leaders to learn skills to advocate for themselves and their families; to make connections with other mamas, caregivers, and allies; and to provide input into Family Forward’s work — all while feeling supported and empowered to take action, at their own pace, in whatever way makes the most sense for their families.
Mamas Lead: Aiming to provide a deeper, more politicized and transformative leadership development experience for women from across the state.
We aim to live our values and model our vision for a society that centers mamas and caregivers, by addressing barriers to leadership head-on. This means welcoming children, providing meals, and even making it possible to join meetings by video conference!
Recently, we took Mamas Lead to the next level. At our Inaugural Leadership Summit, some of our most active and engaged members from across the state spent the day strengthening what we’ve been building together, and finding a sense of empowerment and encouragement to continue their part in the work.
Since some volunteers were meeting each other (and some members of our board and staff) for the first time, we took the time to learn about what draws each of us to fight for economic justice for mothers and caregivers. We also looked at how oppressive care issues (like child care and elder care) are, and how they’ve impacted each of our lives. We brainstormed ways to address potential barriers to implementing paid family and medical leave insurance. And Volunteer Leaders shared their vision for a child care system that works for all Oregon families.
In this way, we are continuing to elevate the voices of those impacted by the issues we work on, and we’re helping our volunteers see how they are already leading. To be a strong leader, you first have to believe that change is possible. Then, you have to believe that you can make that change. We already see our activists as leaders, but the Leadership Summit was a key moment for them to see it in themselves, too.
As mamas ourselves, we are so proud of this program. Together, we’ll continue to break down barriers to leadership and get more mamas and caregivers involved in the political process.
We’re building the programs to make it happen, but we need you to strengthen it!