Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I live in Salem with my husband, Dan, and toddler, Emerson. I am a project manager for a web development agency in Portland, and I also have my own small business helping newly expanded families and babies get more sleep. We love throwing themed house parties (Kentucky Derby is one of our favorites!) and visiting local wineries.

How long have you been volunteering with Family Forward and how did you get started?

I have been volunteering with Family Forward for nearly two years. I moved to Oregon from California six years ago and it never occurred to me to look into the paid family and medical leave policies. When I became pregnant I was shocked to discover that nothing existed in Oregon, and even more shocked to learn that only four states (soon to be five) actually have paid family leave. There are so many awful statistics when it comes to the effects of not having a national paid family leave policy, but the one that really got me mad was that 1 out of 4 women in this country go back to work within two weeks after giving birth. And I knew this was a cause I needed to jump into. So I just googled to find out who was doing something abut this, and of course Family Forward was at the forefront because of their amazing work.

What’s your favorite part about volunteering with FFO?

I love meeting inspiring, passionate people who are fighting for the rights of women and families. I also love feeling like I am part of an important process – through my work with Family Forward I have had the opportunity to meet with legislators, testify at hearings, and organize community events, all with the goal of turning the tide and making sure that ALL future Oregonians have access to paid family and medical leave.  I think so many people have just gotten used to the idea that this is how it has to be, but Family Forward knows that we can do better, and I am very proud to be part of that work.

Why is it important to be involved in organizing and activism? What advice would you give others, especially moms and other caregivers, that are struggling to make time to be active in their community?

I completely understand how hard it is to find time for activism when jobs and families are a bigger priority. I also understand from personal experience that sometimes it can feel overwhelming when there are so many important issues that need attention, and it’s unclear how individuals can make an impact. I have volunteered with various progressive orgs and groups in the past, but paid family leave is really the first cause that I knew in my bones I needed to get behind. So my advice would be to find the topic that is most important to you, find out who is doing something about it, and say yes to opportunities that come up. Saying yes will help you learn more about the topic itself, and will help you feel even more passionate about it. And when you are passionate about something, it helps those around you be more passionate about it too.  From my time working with Family Forward I really have seen the value of numbers. Our legislators need to hear from us, over and over again sometimes. Every person who is willing to stand up for a cause can make a difference.

Want to join Kaylan in becoming an activist in our community? Join an action team in your region! Learn more here.