Honoring the Village

UW President Ana Mari Cauce and Alayne Sulkin | Photo credit: Will Austin

I’ll admit one of my obvious professional weaknesses: superhero worship. At ParentMap, we collectively adore seeking out individuals who possess extraordinary superhuman powers and are proud to report how their powers are put to good use for families in Washington state.

ParentMap’s Superheroes for 2016 are selfless individuals — people I like to call master agents of change — dedicated to making life better for families and children in our state, some of whom struggle more than others, many of whom have challenging lives.

The amazing 2016 list opens with Rainier Valley Community Clinic co-founders Jodilyn Owen and Tara Mudaliar, midwives, teachers and miraculous mentors. They provide critical health and birthing services to the most disadvantaged women with the clinic’s beautifully diverse team. The clinic group, rarely able to be together at one time, gathered in Superhero master photographer Will Austin’s studio a few weeks ago. I witnessed an inspiring level of commitment, emotion, love and care for the work they do, for their patients and for one another. Tara broke down in tears as she described the challenging birth that had happened just hours earlier, while Jodilyn created a prayer-like circle, passionately appreciating each person for their commitment to their patients and the clinic’s mission.

Straight-talking, rock star Washington State Teacher of the Year Nathan Gibbs-Bowling had the “parent agitators,” who are better known as Washington’s Paramount Duty, thrilled to be in his presence at their photo shoot, and the energy in the room was electric. I had the fortunate experience to meet and talk with University of Washington president Ana Mari Cauce, a humble, humorous and self-effacing woman who is also a higher-education visionary. Cauce, uprooted from Cuba as a young child, is the first gay Latina president of the UW and passionately committed to diversity. She sees diversity as the key to educational excellence. It’s truly a challenge to refrain from sharing more of the magic and impact that meeting each 2016 Superhero had on me, but I urge you to flip through the pages of this issue and join us to celebrate these amazing individuals. As always, we are grateful to Will Austin, our own form of paparazzi, for his elegant photos that capture the essence of our Superheroes, who glow on the pages of this issue.

Celebrating is what we’re about to do at ParentMap as we reach our 13th birthday this month. Our most extraordinary team of wonder women tirelessly concentrate their abundant talents to ensure that your family receives the very best parenting information we can create. Our families have grown up together, and we understand that from your child’s first coo to her endless soccer games, struggles and deep joys, we’re here to help you build your best village.

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