2023 Leadership Institute Recap

2023 Leadership Institute

A Full House, A Bright Future!

First held in 2009, Parent to Parent USA’s Leadership Institute is the only national conference focused solely on the challenges of running a Parent to Parent program. Parent to Parent leaders from across the country share best and promising practices to address the changing needs of families of those with disabilities and special health care needs. Learn more about past editions here.

The 2023 edition brought together a diverse group of Parent to Parent staff and volunteers, with a total of 181 registrants from 35 states. Attendees spent an average of 10 hours and 50 minutes online over three days. Even in a digital space, the conference fostered an environment of knowledge sharing and idea exchange, ensuring that the sense of community and engagement remained strong.

The keynote presentation on Centering Joy ignited inspiring discussions and set the tone for the conference’s theme of Opening Doors to a Better Future.

“I had to choose joy in the midst of the worst circumstances.” – Shaunte Johnson on Centering Joy

Open to Sharing and New Opportunities

One standout session was the Lightning Talks, where attendees had the chance to share their successes and challenges. Topics ranged from staff and volunteer competencies to the importance of sharing feedback. This platform allowed members to learn from each other and discover innovative strategies to better support families. It was a prime example of the conference’s commitment to fostering growth and innovation within the Parent to Parent community.

The Coordinators roundtable focused on the use of data as an asset. Participants discussed how data-driven insights could lead to more effective support for families. Meanwhile, the Directors roundtable delved into the future of our national network. From data collection to the design and delivery of volunteer training, the application of new technologies was a recurring theme in all discussions.

Open to All

The Leadership Institute left no room for doubt when it came to its commitment to being Open to All. In a powerful plenary session on The #1 Tool to Combat the Epidemic of Isolation, participants learned about the experience of caring for a child with an ultra-rare condition.

“Hope is healing.” – Emily K. Whiting, Charlotte’s Hope Foundation

The conference also featured sessions dedicated to understanding and addressing the unique needs of Spanish-speaking families. Inclusivity was further exemplified by exploring the intersection of mental health and intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), as well as disability in the LGBTQ+ community.

These sessions placed a strong focus on supporting caregivers and recognizing the diversity of their experiences. While everyone’s journey is different, our shared experiences and inclusive approach allow us to relate to one another, fostering a deep sense of belonging.

Celebrating our Volunteers: The Support Parent Summit

We unveiled our inaugural Support Parent Summit—a heartfelt celebration of the dedicated volunteers who are the heart of Parent to Parent. Each member organization carefully handpicked a select group of volunteers, inviting them to join in this special afternoon of recognition and camaraderie.

In this interactive gathering, volunteers shared their wisdom and experiences on handling difficult conversations. It was a unique opportunity for these remarkable individuals to connect and learn from one another across states lines. This perfect reminder of the “why” behind their volunteer work and the invaluable contributions they make left us eagerly anticipating the next edition!

“We are each other’s biggest cheerleaders.” – Inaugural Support Parent Summit at the Leadership Insitute

Looking Forward

Opening Doors to a Better Future isn’t just a theme; it’s a call to action. Join us on this journey to ensure that no parent feels alone, ever. Whether as a program staff member, a volunteer, or a supporter, your involvement is essential to our collective success.


Our dedicated planning committee, comprised of volunteers from our member organizations, deserves special recognition. Their unwavering commitment and hard work were instrumental in shaping the conference: from identifying key topics and speakers to drafting communications and running the rehearsal sessions.

2023 Leadership Institute Planning Committee

We would also like to express our gratitude to the volunteers who tirelessly provided support during the conference. They served as moderators, shared technical expertise, and ensured that the virtual conference ran seamlessly.

The success of the Leadership Institute wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of our sponsors. Their contributions not only helped keep registration costs low but also enabled us to match our prior attendance record. We extend our heartfelt thanks to these partners who played a crucial role in making the conference accessible to a wide audience.

2023 Leadership Institute Sponsors:
Charlotte’s Hope Foundation
Center for Family Involvement
AMCHP, Amicus Therapeutics, Exceptional Parent Magazine, Family Connection of South Carolina, Horizon, LifeCourse Nexus / Missouri F2F
Oklahoma Family Network, Parenting Special Needs Magazine, PATH, Raising Special Kids, Ultragenyx