Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I grew up in Sacramento California the child of a single mom who was a public school teacher.  I was introduced to activism going to union meetings with my mom.  In fact, my first memory of going to work with my mom was going on strike with my mom and her fellow elementary school teachers.  I attended Hampshire College in Amherst Massachusetts a really unique place where every student develops their own major as well as a senior project.  For my project I lived in Israel and Palestine for 7 months and studied the various peace movements.  After college I moved to Oakland to start an arts integrated elementary school in East Oakland.  There I became a part of Oakland Community Organizations a faith based community organization that sought to address educational equity.  I worked with parents, families, teacher and students to fight for equitable school, and parent engagement. I also worked as an educator.  I am deeply passionate about leadership development, as well as educational equity.

How long have you been volunteering with Family Forward and how did you get started?
My husband and I moved to Oregon unexpectedly for a job just over 2 years ago.  I got involved with Family forward right after we moved. We are looking to start our family, but are far from our support system of parents and friends.  Coming from a state with Paid Family Medical Leave (though its not sufficient, it’s a start) I felt compelled to to join the fight for a paid leave policy.  And as the daughter of a single parent I have experienced first hand the challenges around affordable and accessible childcare.  For these reasons I joined Family Forward  and hundreds of activists to demand policies and programs that value caregiving and support all our families to thrive

What’s your favorite part about volunteering with FFO?
My favorite part of being a part of Family Forward is feeling like I am part of a group of people, impacted by the lack of family friendly policies, who are working together to making change. That is such a powerful feeling.  Family Forward helps support families to demand better policies for Oregon families whether it is leadership developing, writing elected officials, giving testimony at committee hearings, or doing legislative visits.  I had two experiences that really impacted me. My first was attending a Family Forward meeting where everyone shared their story about why they were in the room.  To hear in everyone’s unique story a shared struggle due to the lack of Paid Family and Medical Leave or Affordable childcare was deeply moving.  Also going to my first legislative visit day, visiting our elected  officials and sharing our stories and then asking their position on the issues was so exhilarating and powerful.

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?
Joining together with other people, building collective power, is so important to creating change.  Your voice matters. Changing laws, policies and the way we value caregiving and caregivers, is difficult work, but together we can make a difference.  Historically, in the fight for justice, we have seen the biggest change when the folks directly impacted have joined together to demand change. This is how we create the world we want our children to inherit.   There are so many different ways to get involved, not everyone can go to Salem, but every one can do something.  Ask about the different ways you can get involved.  Whatever your time, your gifts and talents, there is room for you in the movement to create change.

Want to join Samantha in becoming an activist in our community? Join one of our activist teams in your region! Learn more here.