STAMFORD, CTJune 26th, 2020 —The Stamford Public Education Foundation (SPEF) is pleased to announce the Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI) graduating class of 2020. This group of parent leaders overcame many challenges throughout their studies, including the shift to distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The graduates celebrated their success in a virtual graduation that took place on Zoom.


The Parent Leadership Training Institute is a free program for engaged community members to become advocates for children.  Through PLTI, program participants learn communication, public speaking, and media advocacy skills; understand government budgets, policy, and laws that effect children; learn how to work in political systems. The program participants endured a selective application process, followed by a rigorous 22-weeks of programming outlined below:


  • A Saturday community-building retreat
  • 10-weeks of instructional course on community, personal development, and parent leadership
  • 10-week civics course on politics, policy and media
  • A cumulative final community project


Mayor David Martin honored the graduates with well wishes in the virtual ceremony, along with District State Representatives Matt Blumenthal, Alex Kasser, Carlo Leone, and Caroline Simmons, remarks from Stamford Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tamu Lucero, and many other guest speakers from SPS staff and supporters. The PLTI program design team looks forward to honoring the graduates with an in-person graduation later once social distancing limitations are lifted.


“It is an accomplishment to be able to complete this course, especially during these unprecedented times and not being together in person,” said SPEF CEO Matthew Quinones. “These parent leaders have balanced the challenges of individual life circumstances during this pandemic and have also stayed committed to this very important training program. As a community facing significant challenges, parent leader’s voices will play an important role in how we move forward.”


Parent Leader Project Title
Josefa Arias Just Be You – A series
Shweta Ameya Shinde Social and Emotional Therapy through Social Stories in schools
Bianca Shinn Arching to Opportunity
Danielle Quilligan Family Analytics
Daiana Negrón Journal of Hope
Shalini Rangan Girls who STEM
Ruth Balladares Tools to Help Children Develop Emotional Intelligence
Brian Miklos Better Student Outcomes: Optimizing the IEP Parent/Educator Relationship
Michele Audevard McDonald Making Our Substitute Teachers More Effective
Cesar Valencia Improving Hispanic Parent Engagement at Roxbury School
Pratibha Tarnach Pandey BiteSize mindfulness in Schools
Rose Maignan-Nyakh Translate
Tyler Stevens Solutions to Distance Learning
Anjali Gurnani Children safety in parks
Nancy McGonigle-Colfer TCC+3000+
Temira Catlett domestic violence education and prevention
Yudelka Cleto School Bus Guardian
Efrain Gutierrez Smart device, smart choice
Carolina Adorno-Giroux Talking is Teaching



About SPEF: Founded in 1996, the mission of the Stamford Public Education Foundation (SPEF) is to deliver educational programs and resources that elevate student, educator, and parent success by bridging the gap between needs in the Stamford Public Schools and resources in our community. The Foundation strives to enable each and every student in the Stamford Public Schools to graduate high school and enter college, career training, or fulltime employment ready to succeed. For further information, visit