Parent Engagement: Addressing Gaps Facing Immigrant and ELL Students and Their Families

Parent knowledge and engagement are essential to young children’s school readiness, K-12 education success and achievement of postsecondary education and career goals. Yet existing parent engagement policies often overlook the barriers experienced by immigrant and LEP parents and children. This session will focus on critical challenges facing immigrant family advocates working to unleash immigrant and refugee parents’ energy and concern for their children’s education success, pointing to promising policies and practices effective in working with diverse families. Moderator:

  • Rosie Arroyo is Program Officer at the California Community Foundation (CCF), where she manages programs, initiatives and outreach for the Civic Engagement Department. She joined CCF in October 2007 as a Joan Palevsky Fellow for the foundation’s El Monte Community Building Initiative, and was board-community relations liaison. Previously, Arroyo was program director at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund. Ms. Arroyo holds a bachelor’s in Mexican-American studies from California State University, Los Angeles. She is currently pursuing an MPA from California State University, Northridge.


  • Maki Park, Policy Analyst, Migration Policy Institute, Washington D.C. -- Maki Park is a Policy Analyst and Program Coordinator at the Migration Policy Institute’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy, where she works on domestic and comparative issues affecting children of immigrants in early childhood and K-12 education. Previously, Ms. Park worked as Director of Outreach and Program Manager at WorldTeach, based at Harvard's Center for International Development where she oversaw recruiting and admissions operations and managed the organization's program in Guyana. She holds a master's in international education policy from Harvard University's Graduate School of Education, and earned her bachelor's degree with a double major in French and government with a concentration in international relations from Cornell University.
  • Max Ahmed, Senior Education Advocacy Associate, New York Immigration Coalition -- Mubashar (Max) Ahmed is the Senior Education Advocacy Associate with the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC). His advocacy and policy work in the Education Program has been shaped by the collaboration of NYIC’s 200 member groups which engage with immigrant parents and students. Recently, Max has helped advocate for NYC’s $18M initiative to support eligible populations to apply for DACA by enrolling in educational/career programs. He also works on parent access and engagement issues through providing College Access Workshops for immigrant parents as well as Consulate ID Events, a unique multi-national approach to community integration.
  • Joanna Brown, Parent Engagement Institute and Education Director, Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Chicago -- Joanna Brown is the Director of the Parent Engagement Institute which provides training and mentoring to non-profit organizations who wish to replicate the 20-year-old Parent Mentor program of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association. The Parent Mentor program is a holistic approach to immigrant integration. Parent Mentors, typically low-income Latina and other immigrants, tutor struggling students daily for a year in their children's school. Through practice, workshops and mutual support, many become school and community leaders, and even teachers. In the past 4 years the program has expanded to more than 20 organizations and 80 schools.
  • Sandra Gutierrez, Abriendo Puertas -- Sandra Gutierrez is the Founder and National Director of Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors. Ms. Gutierrez led the development of Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors-the nation’s first evidence-based, comprehensive training program for Latino parents with children 0 to 5. Prior to her work with Abriendo Puertas / Opening Doors, Ms. Gutierrez developed a series of training programs to support children and families involved in the child welfare system for Parents Action for Children. She brings over forty years of experience with legal, children’s advocacy and community service organizations. Ms. Gutierrez graduated from UCLA with Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and in Latina American Studies. Her multi-faceted career has included founding the first service organization to assist Central American Refugees, developing health education programs for the United Farm Workers of America and leading campaigns to promote the benefits of preschool to the Latino community. In addition, for seven years, she served as a founding member and State Commissioner for First 5 California where she established the Advisory Committee on Equity. Ms. Gutierrez serves as an Advisory Board member for the Too Small To Fail Initiative. In March 2014, Ms. Gutierrez was named by the White House as a César E. Chávez Champion of Change.