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You are an advocate for your children at school, the doctor’s office and in your community. These experiences show the importance of using your voice, especially when decisions about your child’s future are being made.

Being a family leader is a natural extension of the advocacy you are doing for your family, with a goal of benefiting all families. When you’re ready to put your family leadership skills to use, think about becoming a member of a committee, board or advisory group.

Why Should I Join a Committee or Board?

Family leaders make organizations more effective by offering our input to advisory committees as their programs and projects are created. As a committee or advisory group member you also gain a better understanding of how these organizations work. These insights empower you to guide other families in your community as they search for resources for their children.

Find the One That’s Right for You

Before offering your time and energy, think about what you want to gain from being part of a committee or advisory group. For some, committee membership offers a sense of community and knowing that you’re part of something bigger. For others, it’s a way practice self-care by giving you the chance to get out of the house and talk with other adultsꟷA wonderful break from your daily caregiving responsibilities.

Use your passion as your map when looking for an organization. You may choose an organization that serves families who have children with disabilities, or you might select something completely different. Think about the things that you like to do:

  • Do you enjoy the outdoors? Join a local parks or recreation department advisory group.
  • Do you love books? Your local library may need family members on their advisory committee.
  • Do you like to plan events at your child’s school? Join the PTA or other parent group.

Your interest in the group will lead to a positive impact on the organizations and programs you choose.

Learn More and Make Contact

The best way to learn about opportunities at an agency or organization, is to call the agency directly. You can also start with an online search to learn everything you can about the group you want to join. After your research, email the group’s director to explain why you are interested in being a committee member.

Tip for Families

Searching for a committee to join? See the Family Voices listing Statewide Committees and Councils that Include Families in our website’s Resource Library, familyvoiceswi.org/resource_library.

Think Before You Join

Is the committee or board a good fit?                                                                                                                      

Before you agree to be a committee member, learn more about the position. You will be taking time away from your family, so make sure it’s a cause close to your heart.

What is the length of the membership term?

Are you signing up for one year or is this multi-year undertaking? Your interests and availability may change over time so make sure you are comfortable with the commitment.

Who are the other committee members?

You want to enjoy spending time with the other members, but you also want to work productively and learn from them. Get a sense if they’re open to new ideas and perspectives on decision-making. Also, glean if they seem ready to welcome others into their group.

Are the meetings well run?

You want to be sure the group values your time as much as you do. Small items like agendas for meetings, staying on task and ending on time demonstrate respect for all committee members. For instance, if meetings tend to run over time, and you are expected stay to the end, it may become an issue for you.

Do they get things done?

Some groups may spend time discussing new ideas but rarely seem to take action. If you want to be part of a group that really makes a difference, find out about the group’s history. Do they have a track record of action on the issues that you’re interested in? Do they move quickly or are they bogged-down with procedures?

Will you need accommodations?

A good thing that came out of the pandemic is that organizations became more flexible with the options they offer committee members. Ask the group if you can join virtually for some or all meetings. Request a stipend for childcare for in-person only meetings or ask if you can bring your child and a caregiver.

Request an Appointment

  • There may be an application to complete. Before submitting your online application read the requirements carefully and write a draft version to get a friend’s feedback.
  • You may need references. Use a variety of different people as references and make sure you tell them to expect communication from the agency or organization.
  • Write a letter of intent if necessary. There are lots of examples of these letters available online.
  • Need help with an application? Contact Family Voices Family Leadership Coordinator, Danielle@fvofwi.org.

Tip for Families

Many committee meetings are open to the public. Attend a meeting before you contact the group to see what you think. This will give you a good idea if it’s a group you want to join.





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