Parent Ambassadors Staff

Federal Advocacy and Parent Coordinator - Sonja Lennox

Sonja was a Parent Ambassador in Year 3 (2011) and a mentor in Year 4 (2012).  In Year 5 (2013) she became a Parent Coordinator. Sonja says “I have been with the program for 9 amazing years and would not be where I am today without the Parent Ambassador program. My favorite part of staffing the program is helping parents find their voice and realizing they are worthy and they do matter. When parents realize they can make a difference they start being seen as a role model and the “go to” person. I also feel an important aspect of the yearlong Parent Ambassador program is the sense of being a part of a family and being part of something bigger then themselves.”

Sonja lives on a small farm in Tacoma and has 2 children, Randi, 23 and Danner, 13 who have both gone through the Head Start program. Sonja has been involved with the PTA in the Franklin Pierce School District for the last 13 years, been the assistant coach for baseball and basketball for over 10 years and has been volunteering at her local food bank for the last 5 years. She enjoys hunting, fishing, camping and traveling, especially to sunny locations. She graduated from Puyallup High School and has a double Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Biology and Zoology from the University of Washington.

For more information about our Federal Advocacy contact Sonja.

Parent and Dual Language Coordinator - Maricela Rodriguez

Maricela is our Parent and Dual Language Coordinator. Maricela was a Parent Ambassador in cohort 5 and has been a coordinator since 2014. Her background has always been working on behalf of Spanish Speaking families. As an immigrant she has faced a lot of obstacles in this country while raising her own children, that’s why she does the work that she does with love and passion. Maricela is crucial to our ability to facilitate simultanous intrepretation in real time for the parents.

Maricela says “ I love my work as a Parent and Dual Language Coordinator, because I can support parents, especially monolingual parents who don’t speak Spanish to bring their voice and the voice of their community to lawmakers when they thought that it was not possible. I love to see their growth on a personal and professional level. The parent ambassadors program gives parents the strength they need to advocate not only for themselves and their families, but for their whole community. It’s amazing how you can find PA alumni all over the places, at the table making decisions, and building capacity for their communities.”

As an interpreter, Maricela’s inspiration is to help people understand what others say and to make their voices heard. Her work with parents in the Parent Ambassador program is a way for her to lift up those voices and empower them to be a voice for themselves and others. supporter of raising bilingual children.  She facilitates the Early Literacy Parties program, a series of 8 workshops in Spanish for families to learn about early literacy and how to prepare their children for Kindergarten.  

For information about Dual Language Coordination contact Maricela.










Program Manager - April Messenger

April is our first full time Program Manager. April was a Parent Ambassador in PA 2- 2010 where she was involved in the creation of the WA-Kids program and the 12 month subsidy authorization. Head Start and ECEAP played significant roles in all of her children's lives, but most importantly the diagnosis of a hearing loss in her middle daughter at the age of 3. In cohorts 3 and 4, she served as a Parent Coordinator. She left our program upon getting hired at the Department of Early Learning, where she led the work for the re-establishment for the Parent Advisory Group. April has worked in various capacities in early learning over the last decade with the League of Education Voters, the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges and the Children's Alliance.  April most recently managed the work of the Early Learning Action Alliance, a statewide coalition of early learning organizations focused on early learning advocacy and policy. April's passion and commitment to parents and family advocacy has always been first and foremost in every position she's held. April lives in Olympia with her husband and their blended family of 7 kids, (3 bio, 3 bonus and a foster) a granddaughter and another granddaughter on the way! April is excited to work with creating the Parent Ambassador 2.0 program and getting back to what she really enjoys, working 1 on 1 with parents to empower them to engage in advocacy.  

For information about our program, curriculum, training or partnership contact April. 

Program Director- Lori Pittman

Lori has been with Parent Ambassadors since 2008 and was instrumental in the development and creation of the program. She has made Early Learning and Parents her lifework.  She has been a part of Early Learning for over twenty five years as a Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD) Head Start Parent, Policy Council & Family Engagement Specialist, Family Advocate, White Center Early Learning Planning Director and many other roles.  Lori is currently the Early Learning Policy and Advocacy Advisor at Seattle Educare, PSESD and the Washington State Association of Head Start and ECEAP Parent Ambassador Program Director. In June of 2013 Lori was honored as a White House Champion of Change for her vision of and commitment to Head Start and elevating parent leadership and voice. Lori acknowledges the growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership. Her passion and commitment to the continuing development and success of others is evident is all that she does.

For more information about our policy contact Lori.



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