Parents’ Perspectives Launch 2019 Aspen Forum on Children and Families


The 2Gen movement is being enlivened by a range of cutting-edge approaches to ending poverty so families can thrive: human-centered design, collective impact processes, even neurological research. So what makes the biggest difference?

Dr. Raquel Hatter, Managing Director of Human Services at the Kresge Foundation, and the moderator for our first panel, believes it’s simple: human respect. She says that anyone who works with families needs to say, explicitly and implicitly: “‘You matter here. How are you?‘ It’s the simple things. These are the things that put people at ease and help them lean in.”Three parents told their moving stories and much of what they said echoed this simple, but profound insight from Dr. Hatter. Shannon Davis, a Parent Ambassador from Garrett County Community Action Committee, said that she has noticed so much stigma among her community in reaching out for help, especially around addiction. What made the biggest difference for her was one-on-one time with supportive people: “To talk to someone that actually cared–that’s what helped me a lot.”

The 2Gen movement is being enlivened and informed by so many cutting-edge tools: collective impact processes, sophisticated polling techniques, even nuerological research. But what is most important for supporting families in their dreams?

Daniel Torres, is living in a multi-generational household including his young son, who has autism. He has experienced incarceration, addiction, and so much more, and told the audience: “Humility is the ability to look at reality.”

There was a beautiful balance in this opening conversation of real talk (each parent had the opportunity to ask Lynn Johnson, Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families, a question and they didn’t shy away from the hard stuff) and deep listening. We were all reminded that struggle is universal, as are dreams.

When Davis thanked the audience for serving “people like us,” Dr. Hatter reminded her and everyone: “There is no them and us. We are all in this together.”