Ms. Gloria Harris, passionate advocate for educational equity
Gloria Harris is not only a grandmother of 24 and a parent to twelve children, but a mentor, friend, leader and inspiration to hundreds of other parent leaders fighting to make their communities better for families. Ms. Harris, as she is known to all, is from Chicago’s west-side Austin community, is an active member of community groups and is also vice-chair of POWER-PAC, (Parents Organized to Win, Educate and Renew- Policy Action Council) an organization of parent leaders working to build the voice and power of low-income, immigrant and working families by uniting parents across race and community around issues of importance to children and families. Whether fighting for justice in her community or with the city or state, Ms. Harris is constantly organizing and advocating for equitable access to quality education. In particular, she is committed to ensuring quality early learning resources are available for all low-income children and children of color.
Ms. Harris is a founding member and co-chair of POWER-PAC’s Early Learning Committee begun in 2007 where she tirelessly partners with advocates, policymakers and hundreds of grassroots parent and community leaders on city and state policy change efforts. She has helped to successfully push an effort to streamline the maze for families enrolling in early learning programs in Chicago’s under-resourced communities. Ms. Harris was appointed in 2008 to the Illinois Early Learning Council and is the only parent or grandparent who serves in that capacity. She is working to push for the creation of Parent Advisory Council to advise on state early learning policy.
Ms. Harris also actively goes door-to-door to talk with families about the importance of early learning, an effort, funded by Chicago’s Head Start agency, that is itself a victory of POWER-PAC’s Early Learning Committee organizing and a response to their innovative proposal to use peer-to-peer outreach to connect isolated parents and children with early learning resources. She and her team have enrolled thousands of Chicago children in Head Start and preschool.
In her vision for an equitable world, all families would have access to high quality early care and learning opportunities and the voice of parents, in particular, low-income mothers of color would be seen as vital both to community and policy level early childhood system decision-making. Ms. Harris is dedicated to making this vision a reality for her community and others across the nation.
In 2017, she was Cesar Chavez Day hero.