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Tonya Glantz and André Brown
André Brown (on right), co-chair of LEAD, presents the Legacy Award to Luis Galindez-Garcia (on left). Luis was honored with the Legacy Award as a result of his self-advocacy efforts, involvement in his children’s education and role as community leader benefiting children and families in his neighborhood. He serves as a standing member of the LEAD committee and is also a founding member of the newly created LEAD Speakers Bureau.
Together, Tonya Glantz, Director of the Child Welfare Institute and André Brown, Clinical Training Specialist, developed the Leadership, Equity, and Advocacy for Dads (LEAD) program, funded by Casey Family Programs and implemented at the Child Welfare Institute in July of 2013. The program is overseen by Glantz, Principal Investigator on the grant, and managed by André Brown, who serves as one of LEAD’s Co-Chairs.
Why the focus on dads? In 2009, when Glantz led the Child Welfare Fatherhood Project, she says her research showed, “an underlying narrative of oppression.” According to Glantz, what startled her and the students even more was that, “the fathers in our study had internalized these oppressive narratives and claimed them for themselves.”
“Many of our national systems and services, including child welfare, have focused on mothers as the sole caretaker, and as a result, they can miss the opportunities brought by engaging fathers,” explains Brown.
LEAD’s overarching goal is to advocate for the inclusion of fathers within Rhode Island’s service delivery systems. To accomplish this, Brown is coordinating four forums to bring voice and support to fathers through conversation and connection. These events include a speaker’s bureau, training services for dads, the Legacy Award breakfast, and a Bi-Annual summit where participants are engaged in conversations concerning RI fatherhood practices, services, and needs. Through the forums and programs, LEAD hopes that the fathers will become their own advocates and that RI’s service delivery systems will better embrace fathers.
Brown has seen this happen already. “In one instance I witnessed a shy father, in need of assistance, transform into a confident individual who shared his story with his peers at one of our speaker’s bureau meetings,” said Brown.
Glantz shares Brown’s feeling, “I love that LEAD is allowing us to put fathers first and to be partners with them in their own empowerment,” she said. “Their voices become the resource for creating change across Rhode Island’s service delivery systems.”
Currently, Brown is the Co-Chair of LEAD, however the other Co-Chair position is unfilled. Brown hopes that this role will soon belong to one of the dads from the program.
“Opportunities like this, that bring people together, will fuel LEAD’s success,” said Brown.