Robert Parsons

Robert Parsons is a dynamic advocate passionate about empowering others, building coalitions, and improving equity. Most recently, Robert served as the federal policy specialist for Youth Villages, managing a diverse portfolio of child welfare policy topics. In this role, he launched the organization’s first youth advisory council to center the voices and expertise of those it serves. He was instrumental in leading the organization’s work to help secure $400 million in federal funding to support older foster youth during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also served as a consultant for the Capacity Building Center for States, an initiative of the Children’s Bureau, leading efforts on primary prevention, the child welfare workforce, and race equity. He directly supported jurisdictions in developing and implementing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging frameworks, increasing youth and family engagement, enhancing power sharing, and he developed various trainings on a variety of topics for federal and state audiences. 

 Before working at the federal level, Robert worked in education reform with the Michigan College Access Network, leading over 300 high schools in a yearlong college enrollment initiative called College Bound Michigan. He also supported the training curriculum for their school counseling program, as well as serving on the grant-making team. Robert also worked in direct education with the South Redford School District, administering the Eagle Scholars Program, a community of high-achieving students engaged in rigorous coursework and broad-based enrichment. He also has experience managing data and working on electoral campaigns. 

Robert is a proud graduate of Michigan State University Honors College, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Policy. He graduated with University Honors and Departmental Highest Honors from the Department of Political Science. He was also named the Outstanding Senior for the department in his graduating class. While at Michigan State, Robert completed a thesis focusing on child welfare policy in the United States. Robert is also the co-founder and was the co-president of the inaugural class of Political Science Scholars, and he earned the first undergraduate learning assistantship the Department of Political Science offered. Outside of his educational and career pursuits, Robert is a member of the Emerging Leaders Advisory Council with the Center for Adoption, Support, and Education. He is also a member of the National Foster Youth Institute and was named a Re-envisioning Foster Care in America Champion by the Treehouse Foundation in 2022. He was also served a term as a board member of the Livonia Community Theatre, which aims to make theatre accessible to everyone in the metro-Detroit area. 

As a National Urban Fellow, Robert hopes to deepen his understanding of policymaking, implementation, and evaluation processes. He hopes to gain perspective and skills that will serve him in a role in the public sector as he advances his career. Robert is also determined to strengthen his leadership abilities and develop a style of leadership that is person-focused and equity-minded. His ultimate career ambition is elected office culminating in his election as president of the United States.