CLASE Member Bios

Meet Our 2019 CLASE Community of Practice Members

CLASE Community of Practice Facilitator

Clara Garcia is the Director of Programs for the Autism Society Inland Empire.  She has been active in the field of social services for the past 21 years in the areas of mental health and drug treatment counseling, gang prevention/intervention programs and has spent the last 9 years serving those in the disability community by promoting inclusion, advocating and educating.

Clara has created and implemented inclusive programs for special needs children and their typical peers which include a Summer camp, play dates, outings in the community. Clara has appeared on PSA’s promoting inclusion and advocacy for the disability community.

CLASE Community of Practice Project Manager

Beth Burt is the Executive Director of the Autism Society Inland Empire.  She is a parent of two young adults, one of which has Autism.  She has co-authored of two books on inclusion and has been working to improve the lives of all affected by Autism for the last 16 years.  She has served on a number of State and Local Task Forces, Collaborations on Housing, Employment, and Public Policy issues related to Autism.

She currently serves as the President of the Autism Society of California.

Alejandra Rivera

EPU Children's Center

909.890.3388


Alejandra is the Manager-Southern California EPU Children’s Center, a Non-Profit Organization serving 13 Counties in California as a Parent Training and Information (PTI) Center. EPU serves San Bernardino County, and provides training, IEP consultations, telephone assistance and guidance at no cost for families and professionals. EPU is also now doing in-home or community visits to offer parent education to Regional Center families in San Bernardino County.

Alma Rodriguez

Fiesta Educativa


I was born in the Edo.de Guanajuato Mexico, study a bachelor’s degree with the specialty of Technician in Construction, work as a teacher of Basic Education in Culinary Missions for 4 years, take the higher Normal until the 3rd grade, leave the career when I get married and migrate to this country in 1993. I worked in: a maquiladora company (Electronics) and a company manufacturing hospital goods. I quit my job when my young daughter (8 Months) began presenting health problems and at age 3 and a half she was diagnosed with Autism and intellectual disability. I started to instruct myself to be able to help my daughter, attending any informational talks I found regarding autism, it was there that I met Fiesta Educativa, little time for this organization to welcome me giving me the opportunity not only to follow learning but to help other parents who were in the same or worse situation as me, since then I have taken several trainings all related to disability. I have currently been chairing the organizing committee of the annual Conference that is presented in Riverside County for 13 years, I also worked on family party programs, and the Parent Educational Program autism better known as APEP. I help parents in counseling or referral on resources and sometimes referring them for mental health supports and whatever is available to me and knowledge.

Aracely Monroy

Broad Spectrum, Broader Minds


My beautiful gift, my family, is made up of myself as primary caregiver/advocate; my husband as the primary income earner, works as a manager in the HVAC industry; and our son who has dilated cardiomyopathy autism and other co-existing conditions.

The Broad Spectrum, Broader Minds parent group was started to help provide a safe place for Latinx families of Spanish language origin to come together to learn from each other and provide social/emotional support in an understanding way and without judgment. The group meets every Tuesday at the St. Christopher Church off Perris Blvd. & Cottonwood Ave. in Moreno Valley.

Blanca Loria

Angeles con Futuro


Facilitator for the Spanish support group Angeles con Futuro in the city of San Bernardino and Parent Representative for Early Start Family Resource Network.

Blanca has 3 children, two boys and a girl. Her youngest, Ashley, has Down Syndrome. She was diagnosed in utero and her pregnancy was a bit stressful, filled with ultrasounds and stress tests to ensure Ashley was developing okay. When Ashley was born, she had cardiac arrest and spent 5 days in the NICU. Blanca feels blessed to have Ashley in her life because of all she has learned. Ashley is now 20 years. Blanca has learned how to advocate in the school, the community, and the Regional Center system. Blanca is always willing to share what she has learned and finds it a privilege to be a helpful resource to you.

Catalina Castillo

San Bernardino District English Learner Advisory Communittee (DELAC)

(909) 891-1013


Catalina has been a resident of San Bernardino for over 30 years and is a mother of 3. She has a son on the autism spectrum who is attending college at San Bernardino Valley College to obtain a degree in graphic design. Recognizing the adversities faced by individuals within the special needs community, she has dedicated herself to being an active source of support and change for others. She is a founding member of Parents in Action, San Bernardino branch and also a member of SB Community Coalitions for CHANGE. The goal is to help create safe and healthy environments for youth through community actions, which helps reduce underage drinking, smoking, and other drug use. Catalina has also been a community volunteer in San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD) for over 13 years and is an SBCUSD District English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC) parliamentarian. The SBCUSD DELAC is a parent governance council that is focused on working collaboratively with all education stakeholders in order to best meet the needs of English Learner students. The committee is focused on the seven tasks as dictated by the state, where DELAC works collaboratively with other district departments to ensure students have access to necessary support. In particular, DELAC has been active in advocating for special needs students and has greatly supported all teacher training and staff development to help build education stakeholders’ capacity in working with English Learner special needs students. In all her years of enacting change for the community, at the heart of Catalina’s endeavors is creating equity for all. Catalina is passionate about making changes that will support success for all students, not only for the present-day but for their individual futures.

Elvia Tamayo

Padres con Poder


Es un grupo de apoyo de padres , organizado por padres para proveer apoyo a las familias de ninos con necesidades especiales. Ofrecemos talleres informativos, eventos y recursos en la comunidad para familias de habla hispana en un ambiente inclusivo.

Evangelina Macias

Ãngeles Especiales Parent Support Group

Contact Helen Neri at 909-699-3614


Spanish support group to empower parents to advocate for themselves and their children. Serves San Bernardino and Riverside Counties – all disabilities. A Spanish-speaking support group for parents of children with special needs. Meets the second Wednesday 9-11:30 a.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 17080 Arrow Blvd., Fontana, CA 92335. The focus of the group is to teach parents how to access resources related to special education, grants and scholarships, children’s and adult’s rights, recreation and adaptive sports. We welcome all disabilities in the Inland Empire.

Flora Martinez

Inland Empire Latino Coalition


Flora Martinez currently represents the Fourth District by serving on the San Bernardino County Committee on School District Organization and was recently appointed to the San Bernardino IHSS Advisory Committee. Her major is in Sociology-Political Science. Throughout her journey as a parent of children with special needs, she found herself joining and volunteering in various non-profit organizations, serving on school board advisory committees, and various political forums. She’s assisted the school district in the development of programs, such as but not limited to the Social Skills Summer Program. She helps lead organizations like the Inland Empire Latino Coalition in advocating and educating our community with resources to guide families and individuals towards a better quality of life. The coalition has organized many workshops that have empowered many parents, teachers, and students to work collaboratively in finding innovating ways to ensure successful outcomes for students.

Gabriela Ayala-Reyes

United Cerebral Palsy Inland Empire (UCPIE)

https://ucpie.org/


UCPIE provides programs and services in both Riverside and San Bernardino counties for individuals diagnosed with cerebral palsy, autism, down syndrome, epilepsy, intellectual delay and other disabilities. Programs include respite, resource and referral, and an adaptive bike program.

Gabriela Mendez

Capacidades diferentes


Provides resources to all disabilities through our website and events that are psycho-educational and inclusive for social development. Serves Spanish and English speakers. Group of family events for families with different abilities.

Gabriela Ibarra

Padres con Poder

(951) 737-0951


The group was born with parents of children with Down Syndrome, but they serve parents with children of different physical and cognitive abilities of all ages, we all bring a little of the experiences, challenges, and successes of our children. Serve Corona Riverside area, all disabilities.

Giselle Salinas

UCR SEARCH Center


Giselle Salinas, B.A., is a second-year doctoral student in the Special Education program at the University of California, Riverside. Giselle previously earned her B.A. in Psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills where she worked on a research project focused on the support and family involvement of university students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Her research interests include the college experience, support systems, transition to adulthood, and family involvement of college students with ASD. Giselle is a SEARCH Fellow at the SEARCH Center, which is the University of California’s first family ASD resource center focused exclusively on family needs, such as educational access. Housed in the UCR Graduate School of Education, the mission of SEARCH is to provide support, education, advocacy, resources, community and hope to families who have loved ones on the autism spectrum. SEARCH provides free autism screening to children aged 3 to 10 years.

Gloria Perez

Padres con Poder

(951) 737-0951


The group was born with parents of children with Down Syndrome, but they serve parents with children of different physical and cognitive abilities of all ages, we all bring a little of the experiences, challenges, and successes of our children. Serve Corona Riverside area, all disabilities.

Haydee Maynes

Angeles Especiales Parent Support Group

Helen Neri at 909-699-3614


A Spanish-speaking support group for parents of children with special needs
Second Wednesday 9-11:30 a.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 17080 Arrow Blvd., Fontana, CA 92335. The focus of the group is to teach parents how to access resources related to special education, grants and scholarships, children’s and adult’s rights, recreation and adaptive sports. We welcome all disabilities in the Inland Empire.

Helen Neri

Ãngeles Especiales Parent Support Group

909-699-3614


A Spanish-speaking support group for parents of children with special needs
Second Wednesday 9-11:30 a.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 17080 Arrow Blvd., Fontana, CA 92335. The focus of the group is to teach parents how to access resources related to special education, grants and scholarships, children’s and adult’s rights, recreation and adaptive sports.

Isabel Torres

Padres con Poder

951-733-2489


Es un grupo de apoyo de padres , organizado por padres para proveer apoyo a las familias de ninos con necesidades especiales. Ofrecemos talleres informativos, eventos y recursos en la comunidad para familias de habla hispana en un ambiente inclusivo.
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