June 2016

Parents – regardless of class, race, and culture – are motivated by concern for their children and can be a powerful force for equity and greater opportunity. Around the country, initiatives that embrace that principle are cultivating parent leadership – enabling parents, especially those from marginalized communities, to gain civic skills and voice as leaders who advocate for children.

This report suggests the paths by which building parents’ leadership capacity could lead to ripples of reform in policies and programs for children. The authors collaborated with parent leaders, researchers, practitioners, and experts in the field to develop a draft theory of change showing how parent leaders might transform themselves and their children, families, communities, and states.


A second phase of the work will identify a variety of field-tested methods, indicators, and measures that are aligned with the theory of change and produce an evaluation framework that can be customized for different approaches, providing a valuable tool for the emerging field of parent leadership development.  Future work will test these tools in sites with active and mature parent leadership initiatives.


Anne T. Henderson and Kate Gill Kressley are independent consultants. Susan Frankel is a senior researcher at RMC Research Corporation. 

Related blog post

AISR Spotlight: Harnessing the Power of Parent Leadership to Build Equity and Invigorate Democracy by Anne T. Henderson and Kate Gill Kressley, Annenberg Institute for School Reform (7/28/16).