After logging many thousands of hours working with parents and children, Patty Wipfler began The Parents Leadership Institute (PLI). She and her Board of Directors incorporated as a nonprofit, and she set out to teach listening and parenting skills in corporations like Genentech, Sandia Labs, Syntex and 3-Com. These first teaching experiments built a platform from which the work could grow.
1990-2000 – Experience, Leadership and Intellectual Assets Grow
During the 1990’s, Patty Wipfler continued PLI’s parent education and support work in corporate and many other kinds of settings, from Public Health outreach programs to preschool staff trainings and parent education talks. She trained parent leaders chosen from her classes and support groups to teach alongside her.
1991 – Parents for Drug-Free Youth in New Mexico Awards a Contract for Statewide Work
Parents for Drug-Free Youth in New Mexico contracted with PLI for a yearlong project to teach listening skills to parents in every part of New Mexico.
1990-1994 – Patty Wipfler Writes and Publishes 12 Booklets
Designed for parents of young children, these twelve booklets were sold primarily by word of mouth, and sales increased year by year. During the 1990’s they were translated into Swedish, Dutch, French, and Spanish. Translations into Japanese, Chinese, Tamil, Greek, Norwegian, Sammi, and German followed during this decade. Hand in Hand is supported by its first major donors.
1995 to 1996 – Two Videos are Released
Together with her filmmaker son, Patty Wipfler produced two videos in 1995 and ’96: Setting Limits with Children and Playlistening. Patty also produced CDs, wrote articles, led support groups, gave talks, and staffed several county wide training projects in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.
1996 – Launch of PLI’s Parent-Focused Website
Patty Wipfler’s second son constructed and mastered the organization’s first website, which has grown exponentially in sophistication and reach over the past years.
1997-2000 – Organizational Growth Continued with Special Prenatal-to-Three Project
Patty Wipfler continued to head the Parents Leadership Institute team. They taught listening and parent support group leadership to every parent outreach worker, public health nurse and lactation consultant in the Prenatal-to-Three project, a division of San Mateo County Public Health that served over 3,000 high-risk parents yearly. Parents Leadership Institute also did numerous classes for early childhood educators and home day care providers in San Jose, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, the East Bay, and on the San Francisco Peninsula.
1998 PLI is Awarded a Project Through Sonoma County Department of Health Grant
Patty Wipfler and other Parents Leadership Institute instructors began a 3-year project delivering ongoing training to parent mentors whose children were in the mental health system, and who provided services to other parents in similar circumstances through a Sonoma County Department of Mental Health grant. In addition to grant-funded and county-funded projects, Patty and other leaders gave many hundreds of talks and training workshops at preschools, parent groups, church groups, corporations and Early Childhood Education Conferences throughout California and beyond, honing their ability to communicate how parents could use Parenting by Connection to improve their lives and their children’s.
2002 – Board Focuses on Organizational Growth
Parents Leadership Institute was, for the most part, a small organization with a modest reach throughout Northern California. There were loyal fans and rising sales of the Listening to Children booklets around the US, but there was no strategic plan for growth. In 2002, the Board of Directors backed Patty Wipfler to begin an effort to expand the organization, and to solicit significant donations to that end. As a result PLI acquired its first major donors and began seeking foundation funding for its classes and trainings.
2003-2005 – Core Curricula Developed and Piloted
Between 2003 and 2005, grants from the Bella Vista Foundation and First Five San Mateo County funded the creation of Hand in Hand’s two core curricula, Tantrum Training and Building Emotional Understanding, now proven to be agents of positive change in the lives of parents and their young children. The curricula were written in both English and Spanish, and were piloted among middle-class parents as well as Spanish-speaking immigrant parents. Both were found to be transformative for a large percentage of the participants. The name of the approach, “Parenting by Connection,” was coined in 2005. Patty Wipfler wrote parent handbooks for both courses, designed visuals and charts, and wrote detailed Instructor handbooks. Several smaller foundation grants gave the organization opportunities to bring these curricula to day care home providers and to Spanish speaking parents. During this time, Patty also wrote two additional booklets for parents to complete her booklet sets.
2005 – PLI Becomes Hand in Hand Parenting
Through key naming and branding grants from the Taproot Foundation, Parents Leadership Institute was renamed Hand in Hand Parenting in 2005, to better reflect the supportive nature of the organization’s parenting approach and message. A talented Taproot team also developed the current logo.
2006 – Hand in Hand Begins Instructor Certification Program
The training of Hand in Hand Instructors had taken place on a local and informal basis since 1992. Patty Wipfler trained grass roots parent leaders from a wide range of backgrounds and experience. In 2006, Julianne Idleman was hired as Hand in Hand’s Communications Director, and she prompted the creation of a formal, 10-month training program for instructors. Since 2006, Hand in Hand has expanded the size and reach of this training from enlisting 12 local parent leaders per year to a yearly total of 40 participants, three quarters of whom are distance learners from the US, Australia, Canada, Israel, France, England and Romania. Hand in Hand has certified over 100 Parenting by Connection Instructors to date.
2006 – Hand in Hand Programs and Outreach Grow To Support 45 Local Agencies Per Year
By 2006, Hand in Hand’s talks, classes and trainings were reaching parents throughout the Bay Area and in other California locations, in partnership with an average of 45 local preschools, nonprofit and government agencies and parent groups each year.
2007 – Hand in Hand Holds its First Annual Fundraising Luncheon
Hand in Hand’s 2007 luncheon hosted over 150 guests. Each year it has grown in size and fundraising capacity, and has become one of the highlights of our year. At this gathering, we connect more fully with local supporters, highlight the personal transformation parents experience when they take our classes, and celebrate our life-changing work.
2010 – Taproot Foundation Awards Grant for Website Redesign
The Taproot Foundation granted Hand in Hand a complete website renovation in 2010, and the site has grown to serve over 40,000 parents per month. It boasts over 100 solution papers in three languages, an online store, a moderated discussion group serving 1,200 parents, a blog where parents post their success stories using Parenting by Connection, and registration for classes and our parent-to-parent consulting services in four languages, from anywhere in the world.
2011 – Hand in Hand Acquires New Executive Director, Paul Russell
After broad consultation, a three-year strategic growth plan is drawn up and approved by the Board. The plan lays a path toward significant expansion in the coming years, and moves Patty Wipfler to the role of Program Director, so an experienced Executive Director can take the helm. Paul Russell is hired; soon after, Hand in Hand acquires a Program Coordinator and strengthens its Communications staff.
2012 – David and Barbara Jacobs Foundation Awards Challenge Grant
Hand in Hand’s 2012 luncheon raised over $100,000 and generated a matching grant award from the David and Barbara Jacobs Foundation in the amount of $200,000. The grant is devoted to activities and projects that will grow our organization and broaden our influence in the world of parenting for many years to come.
2013 – The Outlook for Hand in Hand’s Growth is Excellent
Hand in Hand currently boasts active Instructors in the US, Australia, Canada, France, England, Israel, South Africa, and, Switzerland. Grant-funded Hand in Hand training is currently under way in a statewide Public Health project in Ohio; in a four-year child-outcome improvement project in a tribal community in Northern Washington State; in a Los Angeles Department of Mental Health peer-support project; and in special projects in two Bay Area charter schools. Hand in Hand serves 7,500 parents in 2012 with 20,000 program hours. The Board numbers eleven talented and active members, and all are deeply committed to Hand in Hand’s mission and success. Hand in Hand’s paid staff numbers seven.