Meet Nahmese Bacot, Parent/Family Partner

Nahmese Bacot is a Rochester native, mother of three, and a change agent who has spent more than a decade advocating for children in the Greater Rochester community. She went to School #12 in the city’s  South Wedge from kindergarten through fifth grade, Monroe Middle School, and East High School, where she graduated in 2002. She earned a bachelor’s degree in health science and worked as a patient care technician for a few years before finding her true calling as a parent consultant. Like most working mothers, Nahmese’s most important job title is “mom.”

Nahmese became an advocate out of a sense of responsibility to not only care for her own kids, but for others too. “I’ve learned that blood makes you related but family is what you create,” she said. “As a Parent/Family Partner (PFP) with ROC the Future Alliance (RTFA), we constantly build new relationships and expand our ‘village,’ and it’s not just a village of single moms. We welcome dads, aunties, uncles, grandparents, and other family members to join us in our work too.” 

Answering the Call

For Nahmese, getting started was the hardest part. “I was the parent that couldn’t attend meetings or events because they conflicted with my work schedule,” she recalled. “But I really wanted to be an involved parent, and the only way I could do so was to volunteer directly in my son’s classroom. So I assisted the teacher with hosting pizza parties, and donated money if a child was not able to pay for a field trip. I couldn’t attend PTA meetings and other evening events, but I found ways to get engaged.”

In 2013, a conversation with a stranger changed everything. “I was at one of my daughter’s dance classes and I started venting about a problem we were having with one of my son’s teachers. At the time, Toyin Anderson (who today is a fellow PFP) was a complete stranger. Toyin said she had a program for me to check out. 

Toyin introduced Nahmese to the Greater Rochester Parent Leader Training Institute (PLTI) and ROC the Future Alliance. The skills she acquired over the next several years helped her get through some difficult  times when her son was in school. 

“My oldest son had a different way of learning and we had a lot of issues with teachers because of it. He wanted to stand up at his desk to do his work. The teacher wanted him to sit down. It turned into a major power struggle. Every child learns differently. If he’s not being disruptive and he’s doing his work, why can’t he stand up? Why does he have to adapt to the teacher? Why can’t the teacher adapt to the student’s way of learning?” 

Even as her son was struggling in class, Nahmese continued to volunteer at school, work to support the family, and she made time to take on a new challenge — going back to school to complete her associate and bachelor’s degrees.

“I was recovering from a car accident and I had a lot of stressors in my life at the time. My kids motivated me because I was determined to set a good example for them. Ultimately,  I was not going to let my son be a statistic. By the Grace of the Most High, I went back to school and he actually got back on track, which motivated me even more. So, I always tell him he’s the reason why I pushed through to get my bachelor’s degree.”

Through Nahmese’s work with PLTI, she learned about ROC the Future Alliance and became a member of our Parent Engagement Collaborative Action Network (PECAN) in 2015. Nahmese and Maurice Haskins were PECAN’s first co-chairs in 2017. They helped define the role of Parent/Family Partners over the next two years. During this time, RTFA committed to:

  • Give PFPs an equal voice and more power to co-create solutions alongside backbone staff and systems partners.
  • Create a compensation plan for PFPs, which currently pays $40 per hour.
  • Invite PFPs to participate in the interview process when RTFA is hiring key staff members including the Director for its Whole Child Initiative. 

“We want RTFA to be different from other organizations,” explained Nahmese. “We need to be intentional about what our focus is. Parents were never at the table before. Now we are.”

ROC the Future Alliance continues to enable Parent/Family Partners to impact children’s lives, while providing parents with experiences that open countless doors of opportunity. Last year, Nahmese and Toyin traveled with a group of Alliance members to San Francisco to speak at StriveTogether’s national conference—quite a journey for a parent who, not long ago, was reluctant to get involved.  

“Volunteering at the schools and leading systems change work with RTFA helped me build the skills and confidence to do all these things,” said Nahmese, who serves on countless community tables, including the Healthi Kids Coalition.

For all her accomplishments, Nahmese is humble and supportive when she shares advice with parents who are considering getting involved. “You might not have a degree, but you are the expert of your own children. You have the experience, and if you have any questions or need help or support, we’ve got you. Because it takes a village.” 

To learn how to become a Parent/Family Partner for ROC the Future Alliance, register below.

Register Here