February is National Parent Leadership Month

Family of three laughing

During National Parent Leadership Month, the Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP) would like to honor parents throughout California for the work that they do to improve their communities. Therefore, the OCAP will present awards to parent leaders for the Fifth Annual OCAP Parent Leadership Awards!

2022 Parent Leadership Award Winners

The Office of Child Abuse Prevention would like to congratulate our 2022 Parent Leadership Award Winners.

Lilia Becerril

Profile picture of Parent Leadership Award winner, Lilia Becerril

Lilia Becerril is a mother of four grown children and now a grandmother of seven grandchildren, three girls and four boys.  She adopted one of her sons at the age of 13 because of his parents’ neglect.  She has worked hard for equality and fairness and believes that safe and secure neighborhoods are especially important for children whose only concern should be to excel in life.

Lilia is passionate about improving her neighborhood in South Fresno. She has spent the past 20 years taking small steps to keep it safe and clean, from picking up litter to reporting this abandoned truck to the city. She is an advocate in the community and continues to be a voice for those who are unable to speak for themselves. Lilia is known as a tireless community activist and is invited on many occasions to stand before the California State Legislature and Congress to advocate for fair immigration reform, a better and more equitable education system, and quality healthcare.

Lilia began her community work in 1998 when she immigrated to the United States.  Although not fluent in English, she was eager to help people by improving the quality of life in Southeast Fresno. She began assisting in education by volunteering to help a group of struggling students, working with the District English Learner Advisory Committee and the Fresno Unified Graduation Task force.  That set off a lifelong commitment to public service for Lilia.

In 2019 Lilia was honored as a Community Champion by Fresno Building Healthy Communities for her work in the community.  Additionally, Lilia’s work was also recognized in March of 2021 by city council members as 2021 District 5 Women of the Year. This marked the first time that an undocumented Hispanic woman has been awarded. She barely speaks English, but that hasn't stopped her from getting what she wants.

After gaining support from local families, she recently became the Executive Director of the non-profit "Familias En Accion."  Familias En Accion is now one of 18 non-profits selected by the Greater Fresno DRIVE Initiative to receive funding and other forms of support. DRIVE stands for Developing the Region's Inclusive and Vibrant Economy, and organizers say working with grassroots groups will help achieve real change.

Rita Harris

Profile picture of Parent Leadership Award winner, Rita Harris

The Greenfield Union School District initiated the District's African American Parent Advisory Council on 2020-2021 and continues with the process of developing strong parent leaders for DAAPAC. Being new to my position this year, I have had the honor of working with a very dedicated parent, Rita Harris. She has attended all of our DAAPAC meetings this year, participated in the planning and developing stages of our DAAPAC mission statement, and never hesitates to provide feedback, input, and support to improve the services we provide to our African American/Black student population. Rita Harris is eager to help improve parent involvement and has mentioned that parent involvement is so important. She makes great suggestions at our meetings by indicating that one focus should be that we provide support to all of our 8th grade African American/Black students to ensure that they graduate from middle school. She would also like to see what we could do to help middle school students with their transition to high school.

Although parent involvement is minimal when dealing with parents of middle school students, Rita Harris, is definitely active with her middle school 6th grade daughter. She wants her and all other middle school African American students to succeed so that they could be successful in high school.

Rita Harris is a great representation of a caring parent and of a parent who desires to see African American student succeed by having an equitable learning opportunity. Having parents who want to be involved in their child's education, like Rita Harris, will definitely make an impact on student achievement.

Sol Messeguer

Profile picture of Parent Leadership Award winner, Sol Messeguer Sol moved to the United States in 2011 when her oldest son was nine and she was pregnant with her second son. Although Sol is highly educated and had a career working in the schools in Mexico, she did not speak English fluently and she struggled to communicate with the local school system to get her son the assistance he needed there. Sol noticed that her son’s struggles to learn English and communicate with his teachers was common in their small community of Los Alamos, CA where many children and their parents are farm workers whose primary language is Spanish. Sol began taking English classes at the local community college and then started volunteering at her son’s school so she could help improve communication between the Spanish speaking families in Los Alamos with the English-speaking teachers, administrators, and office assistants in the school office. It was not long before Sol was seen as the community parent leader in Los Alamos as she helped educate parents about the importance of education and advocating for their children’s educational needs. In fact, Sol helped found the “Parents in Action” parent group at Olga Reed elementary school, which is a weekly parent education/support group that brings local community agencies and speakers to Los Alamos to speak about local resources that can benefit families such as health care, nutrition education, immigration assistance, mental health support, and English language classes. Eventually, “Parents in Action” in collaboration with the Santa Barbara County Public Health, the local school district, a local philanthropy group and a local community agency, was able to advocate for Los Alamos; the town of about 2,000, to get a local public health clinic in the area to ensure all the residents and children had close access to medical care. Sol was integral to getting her community the resources it needed to improve their health outcomes and empower parents to advocate for their families.

During this time Sol was invited to be a Promotora De Salud, a health promotor, through the local Santa Barbara County of Education. Initially, as a volunteer, this position gave Sol more opportunities to meet with other women to improve their health outcomes as she provided cancer prevention classes with the “Every Women Counts” program. Throughout all of Sol’s volunteering and advocating for marginalized families she was working to get her permanent residency status and in 2015 she became a United States citizen. Sol was than employed with the Santa Barbara Public Health department providing parent and nutrition education through the “Nutrition, Education, Obesity Prevention Program (NEOPP)” where she was able educate parents on the importance of eating healthy and exercising; and she even taught Zumba classes to encourage physical activities. After the funding for the NEOPP expired, Sol became a program specialist with the local non-profit agency Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley, and this is where I first met Sol and continue to have the pleasure to oversee her work and be inspired daily by her work with marginalized and at-risk families who struggle with homelessness.

For the past 6 years, Sol goes above and beyond helping families and children experiencing homelessness get the resources they need to be successful in their school environment. She does this by establishing solid working relationships with parents, educating them about the importance of their children attending school daily, coordinating transportation to/from school, helping them get food/clothing/permanent housing, helping them get immigration support and getting them access to medical/dental/mental health treatment. Sol often does “whatever it takes” to ensure that the underserved get the help they need. Examples of this are when she has more than once taken families to the Mexican consulate almost 2 hours away for immigration appointments. This requires her to get up at 4:30 in morning, pick up the family in the company van, drive them to their immigration appointment, wait for hours with them to see the judge and help translate any information that might help the family’s case. When the Covid-19 pandemic began and all services switched to online, Sol identified a group of mothers in her community that needed parenting support but had limited access to technology and the internet. She offered to hold a parenting class for these women in her backyard as she did not want the technology barriers to limit access to education and support for the mothers during a time in society when they needed it most.

I cannot write enough positive things about Sol as a colleague and a friend. She will often help with tasks at work that not her own if she knows she will help her fellow colleagues and the agency as a whole. Sol is a wonderful and generous cook and often brings together people by organizing potlucks for staff celebrations or coordinating a meal fundraising event for a sick community member. Her smile and laughter are infectious, and she brightens any environment with her warmth and positivity. Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not speak about Sol as a wife and mother. Her love for her family is limitless and unconditional. Everything she does she does to keep her loved ones safe and healthy. Sol’s goal is to get a Ph.D. in education and use this education to continue helping those less fortunate and empower parents to go to school, get a degree, choose to work in a job that they love and be able to provide for their families.

Nomination Forms

2023 Parent Leadership Month Resources