Gwendolyn E.Samuel, parent leader with children attending Connecticut Public Schools, is a change agent that advocates for the rights of all children because all children matter. She is the founder Connecticut Parents Union (CTPU), a membership organization whereby parents, guardians and families are connected with the educational resources and support system necessary to ensure that neither race, zip-code nor socio-economic status is a predictor of their child’s success. With insight and support from a team of advocacy strategists and thought leaders throughout the country, Ms. Samuel developed a non-traditional thoughtful and progressive series of collaborative experiences she calls The Urban Experience in Family and Community Engagement (F.A.C.E.), which is designed to help educators, administration, parents, and support staff build essential organic family-school- community relationships that lead toward sustainable and effective partnerships for school improvement within diverse communities. In her advocacy role, Ms. Samuel has championed two historical parent empowerment bills that became law in Connecticut. In 2010, she successfully introduced a version of California’s Parent Empowerment Law also known as the “Parent Trigger” Law to Connecticut that mandates school governance councils to be implemented in every low performing school - over three hundred schools required by law to be implemented to date. In 2011, she led the charge to stop the felony arrest of parents, mostly single parents and women of color, for school residency violation a.k.a. Zip Code Laws. In 2013, Connecticut’s Governor signed into law, a bill, which stops the felony arrest of parents who enroll their children in schools outside of their zip code. In recognition of her work, Parenting Magazine selected Ms. Samuel as one of 51 moms, from across the country, to represent her state at the inaugural Mom Congress on Education and Learning Conference at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. (March 2010). Ms. Samuel testified before Congress at the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education. The hearing examined state and local efforts to increase parental engagement and options. Most recently, she was featured in Parade Magazine, Mother’s Day edition, “Moms We Love: Four Women Doing Amazing Work to Help Others” (May 2015) and she presented a workshop at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. entitled “Owning Your Parent Power – Changing the Rules of the Game” (October 2015). Ms. Samuel works to ensure that every community has access to a quality educational and economic development system to ensure appropriate support for our present and future workforce.