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Press Release: Center For Powerful Public Schools to Carry on Speak UP's Parent Power Work

The Center for Powerful Public Schools, led by Dr. Alicia Montgomery, is thrilled to announce that it has been granted the assets of Speak UP United Parents and is expanding its mission to include the work of family and community engagement.

Carla Lopez-Valdes, who recently joined the Center for Powerful Public Schools as Director of Community and Family Engagement, will lead Speak UP’s three main initiatives, SpEd UP, Latino Padres Unidos and Black Kids Can’t Wait, as well as the Cultivating Young Black Excellence tutoring program that Speak UP launched in 2021. She will also lead the design and implementation of the Center’s work to advocate and build strong relationships between schools and families.

The announcement follows the retirement of Speak UP Founder and CEO Katie Braude.

“We are honored to continue to build upon Speak UP’s incredible work of parent advocacy and engagement, especially for the highest-need students in Los Angeles,” Montgomery said. “Going into our 20th year, much of our time has been spent working to strengthen the skill and will of educators to provide a powerful education that provides access to the pathways of success. We know without the third component of community and family advocacy and support, we are not accessing the fullest potential of each child, especially our Black, indigenous, and other students of color, as well as kids with disabilities. That is why we have sought out partners to help make connections to families and communities. We found such a partner in Speak UP.”

“I am grateful to see the work of Speak UP being carried on by Dr. Alicia Montgomery and Carla Lopez-Valdes,” Braude said. “I cannot think of any better team to continue the mission of equity-focused parent power. The Center is laser focused on lifting student achievement, and we know this partnership between educators, families and community members will help strengthen outcomes for our most underserved students.”

The Center for Powerful Public Schools has spent the past two decades focused on partnering with Los Angeles educators, schools and school districts to build capacity and provide continuous support and professional learning and improvement through an equity lens.

Dr. Alicia Montgomery joined the Center as executive director in 2018 after a career that has spanned every level of the education system, from preschool to college, and has included roles as a teacher, administrator, district administrator, and executive at the statewide Association of California School Administrators and the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence. Over the course of her career, she worked with each of the groups of underserved students that were the primary focus of Speak UP’s advocacy campaigns: English Learners, Black students and kids with disabilities. The first in her family to graduate from college, Montgomery is also a parent to three adult children.

Carla Lopez-Valdes joins the Center for Powerful Public Schools from the Alliance for Better Community, where she spent more than four years, rising from program and policy coordinator to associate director. Prior to that, she worked at Families In Schools and at the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund.

For Immediate Release: April 28, 2022

Contact: Jenny Hontz:

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