Three women pose smiling with a United Way of the Columbia-Willamette sign

Celebrating Parent Leaders

Wednesday, Jul. 5, 2023

In a time where parents' voices are vital for shaping educational policies and nurturing thriving learning environments, United Way’s Early Learning Multnomah team has looked towards our Parent Accountability Council (PAC) more than ever. With another year of advocacy in the books, our Early Learning Multnomah County team recently hosted their 9th annual PAC celebration for its leaders and families to come and kick off the summer season. 

The PAC is a way to prioritize family voices and help guide the work our Early Learning Multnomah team does. Parents from African American, African immigrant, Asian, Latino, Native American and Slavic communities form the council and provide culturally specific input about where our team’s effort should be directed and where we should make our financial investments based on the needs of the families we serve.

Elia Barcamontes, who has been a long-time member of PAC, said she recommends joining the PAC to anyone because there are so many things you can do with it.

“This program helped me a lot personally on how to talk to principals in schools.” Elia said.

Elia got involved in with PAC because she wanted to find a way to support her children and grandkids through education. She explained about how she learned about being Latinos in education and the importance of being involved.

“I have four children and six grandchildren. One of my youngest sons is 18 and he needed a lot of support in school. I have participated in this program since my son was 3 years old, helping him,” Barcamontes said.

This program helped me a lot personally on how to talk to principals in schools.
A woman laughs and points at something outside the frame

Every year, Elia and the other PAC members have worked hard to make sure the voices of the parents were heard. All that hard work leads up to the end of the school year and their annual PAC celebration, where their efforts and yearly successes are celebrated. Families gathered at Luuwit View Park in Portland on a beautiful Friday morning to enjoy an arts and crafts station where they made bracelets, balloon animals and more along with activities such as giant bubble making.

The celebration also had cultural performances. The day was opened with Native American drumming group, Young Bull led by Marlin Suppah and Jerome Stanley. Then, the White Lotus Foundation came and performed traditional lion dancing and came through the crowd and let families interact with the lions as they danced. Finally, to wrap it all up the father daughter group, Mariachi Chapala, with Francisco Aguirre and his two daughters Aranza and Miranda came and serenaded the crowd with songs. Everyone then enjoyed lunch which featured food from all the different cultures represented in our PAC. 

With another celebration in the books, we look forward to next year’s work with Early Learning Multnomah’s Parent Accountability Council. Parents play a critical role in our communities and without the voices of parents, we could not successfully serve our communities. Thank you to our Parent Accountability Council for another great year!

If you want to learn more about or join PAC, email Frances Sallah ( for more information.

Stay connected with us, sign up for our newsletter!