Be Strong Families Board of Directors Changes its Bylaws and Welcomes 4 New Members

As an organization committed to empowered engagement and continuous learning, we are always looking at ways to deepen our partnerships and strengthen our relationships. On May 10th, the Be Strong Families Board of Directors welcomed four new board members and changed its bylaws to shift towards being more grassroots-driven, diverse, and inclusive. The unanimously approved bylaws change supports goal 2 of our current strategic plan: “Ally with, support, and promote the leadership of parents and youth and young adults including by increasing visibility of parent voices, supporting parent-led programs, and building a coalition of parents to transform social services." The new bylaw provides for each active Regional Parent Engagement Advisory Group (RPEA) to have one representative on the board, replacing a previous provision for 10% of the board to be made up of Parent Leaders.

Regional Parent Engagement Advisory Groups (RPEAs) are groups of parents who have come together through shared enthusiasm for improving their own lives, the lives of their children, and the strength of their families and communities. They embrace the Strengthening Families Protective Factors, are part of Be Strong Families’ Cafe Community of Practice, and use Parent Cafés as one of the ways they strengthen families and communities. The Regional Parent Advisory Groups are enthusiastic about advising Be Strong Families to better meet the local needs of parents in their area. They weigh in on Be Strong Families’ national agenda, bringing parent issues and concerns to the table, and partner with Be Strong Families to co-create new trainings and Cafés. Be Strong Families, in turn, partners with them to support their local initiatives.  

Please join us in welcoming to our board of directors:


Sylvia Wen is a philanthropist committed to intentional community and community-driven social change, the arts, environmental protection and permaculture, and multi-dimensional personal and social transformation. She lives in San Francisco and travels between the US and China. Sylvia is a native Mandarin speaker with a professional background in business development and marketing. She is excited to bring her passion for building connection and harmony within and between communities to her work on the board.

From the RPEAs:


John Hamblet (Cook County, IL) has longtime on-the-ground experience with Be Strong Families, including as part of the original Parent Café development team. He is a dedicated member of the Cook RPEA with a passion for political education, civic engagement, and safe schools.


Melissa Toby (Philadelphia, PA / Philly PLAN) is a dedicated Parent Café enthusiast and was part of the parent leader team that travelled to New York City to introduce Parent Cafés into their Family Enrichment Centers. She is also one of the stars of Philadelphia DHS’s video, “The Parent Café Experience” and has experience on parent councils for childcare and Head Start programs, Student Advisory Council, and Home and School Association.


Karelvy Marquez (Los Angeles, CA / Consejo de Padres en Acción) is a bilingual parent leader for the predominantly Spanish-speaking LA-based group of parent leaders. She studied child development and psychology in college and is passionate about educating parents and caregivers to strengthen children and families. She is excited about Parent Cafés and loves to plan and support events.

If you are interested in serving on the Be Strong Families Board of Directors or starting or connecting with one of our existing Regional Parent Engagement Advisory Groups, please contact BSF's Strategic Relationships Manager, Sarita Sashington at