Pictured: Ms. Lydia (left) and Red (Right)
In August 2021, Lydia Gray-Holifield and Kathleen (Red) Holifield were re-elected onto the Parent Leader Network Steering Committee. The Parent-Leader Network (PLN) is a national network compromised of 10 Early Childhood Learning and Innovation Network for Communities (EC-LINC) focused on raising parent leader voices to improve local, state, and national early childhood systems. Lydia and Red are highly respected and proven leaders, reflected in being re-election onto the PLN Steering Committee.
Lydia and Red are both dedicated leaders, serving on the Parent Accountability Council (PAC) for years. Ms. Lydia has served since the creation of PAC, 7 years ago. Red has served for the last 3 years. Their experience and leadership is invaluable as PAC leaders, PLN leaders, and in the Multnomah early learning community.
What is the biggest change you’d like to see in early learning systems?
The biggest change in early learning system is having parent voice at center of every conversation. Not just when it is a convenient time to bring a parent into the room, but starting with having the parents already in the room. - Ms. Lydia
What experience and mindset do you bring into your role as a PLN leader?
My mindset that I bring into PLN is being able to share what we are already doing at ELM, so that other counties that aren’t as far as we are can learn from our experiences and add to their toolbelts. - Ms. Lydia
On my experience so far on the PLN, I find that the other PLN members think that we do at PAC and ELM is amazing! The other PLN leaders then bring what they've learned and bring it to their parent groups and cafes as well. - Red
(PLN) is a team, after three years we’ve built a rapport with one another. Many of us connected pre-pandemic, so we got to learn and grow with each other. As Multnomah County representatives representing our county and PAC, we’re bringing partnerships and family together to make this work. While making sure parent voice is at the center when others don't feel comfortable bringing it up. - Ms. Lydia and Red
Lydia and Red also took part in the October 2021 PLN Virtual Summit where 60 participants from across the United States, including 5 parent leaders from Multnomah County, joined in collaboration. Lydia and Red hosted a virtual session focused on mental health and self-care; a national crisis highlighted by the impact of COVID. The workshop focused on mental health, wellness, and self-care practices. They created a space for parent leaders to be vulnerable, talk openly about challenges they are facing during the pandemic, and invited parents to share resources or ideas that have helped them through difficult times. The experience was incredibly grounding and impactful for parents at the PLN Virtual Summit. We know that self-care looks different for everyone, and the workshop allowed parents to be open about their practices rooted in their culture, traditions and being part of community. At the PAC meeting in December 2021, Lydia and Red led a similar workshop with our local parent leaders to close out the calendar year in reflection of their challenges, accomplishments and to set intentions for wellness and grace for 2022.
Lydia is on her 3rd and final year serving on the PLN Steering Committee, and she will remain on the Parent Leader Network afterwards.
Red is on her 2nd year serving on PLN and the Steering Committee, and she will be continuing.
ELM is fortunate to work alongside such amazing parent leaders.