Melanee A. Stovall, MBA

Melanee A. Stovall, MBA is a highly skilled professional with a diverse background in retail and customer service management, along with nonprofit leadership. With over 20 years of experience in the retail industry, Melanee has honed exceptional communication and problem-solving skills while managing diverse teams and maintaining high standards of customer satisfaction.

In Melanee's most recent role as a nonprofit executive director, she has demonstrated exemplary leadership abilities. She has successfully overseen the day-to-day operations of the organization, developed and executed strategic plans, and built strong relationships with stakeholders. Melanee's passion and dedication for making a positive impact in the community have been instrumental in driving the nonprofit's mission forward.

Melanee's motivation for being an active member of the parent advisory committee stems from her personal experience as a parent. As a loving parent to a 21-year daughter who is a client of the regional center, Melanee understands the challenges and unique needs that families face on a daily basis. She is motivated to contribute her expertise and perspective to advocate for improved services and support for families like her own.

With her extensive background in retail and customer service management, along with her experience as a nonprofit executive director, Melanee brings valuable skills to the parent advisory committee. She is committed to fostering an inclusive environment where every family's voice is heard, and where necessary changes can be implemented to empower families and enhance the quality of services provided by the regional center.

Melanee believes that collaborative efforts and open communication between parents, professionals, and the community can bring about meaningful change and ensure that children with special needs receive the comprehensive support they deserve. Her dedication, professionalism, and personal connection to the cause make her a valuable asset to the parent advisory committee.

Melanee A. Stovall, MBA
Executive Director
951-374-0933
www.legacybridgesfoundation.org

Isabel Torres

Isabel Torres is a compassionate advocate and community leader dedicated to making a significant impact on the lives of families with special needs children. As the Co-founder and CEO of the Ives Torres Foundation, Isabel plays a pivotal role in providing support and resources to parents in the Inland Empire and Central Valley through her organization "Padres con Poder."

Isabel's journey as a parent to a 20-year-old young man living with Down Syndrome fuels her commitment to supporting families facing similar challenges. She actively engages in empowering parents of children with special needs by equipping them with essential tools to navigate the education system and understand special education laws. Her advocacy extends to guiding families on the myriad resources available within their communities.

With a remarkable seven-year tenure as a board member of the Binational Parent Leadership Institute (BPLI), including two terms as president, Isabel has demonstrated steadfast leadership and commitment to the organization's mission. Her involvement in various community groups, such as the Autism Society Inland Empire and C.L.A.S.E, underscores her dedication to collaboration, leadership, advocacy, service, and education.

In 2023, Isabel became a grantee for the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) with the "Access and Equity for All" program, further solidifying her impact on improving accessibility and inclusivity for families with individuals with special needs.

Isabel's dedication has not gone unnoticed, earning her nominations for the "BEST" Bilingual Educators Succeeding Together award in Riverside County in 2012 and 2017. In 2017, she was honored with the President's Award for Volunteering, recognizing her exceptional service to the community.

Beyond her organizational roles and accolades, Isabel has organized two impactful conferences, "Creando un Mejor Futuro" and "Unidos en Comunidad," bringing together over 100 individuals and fostering a sense of community and empowerment.

Isabel Torres holds a Bachelor's Degree in Industrial Engineering from the Instituto Tecnologico of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. She resides in the city of Corona with her husband Javier and her three children, Carla, Ares, and Ives.

Araceli Gil

Araceli Gil is a dedicated and highly experienced professional who has served as a Community Affairs Coordinator for the past three years at Ives Torres Foundation.

Furthermore, Araceli's involvement in the Autism Society Inland Empire's community practice, CLASE, demonstrates her dedication to promoting support and awareness for individuals with disabilities and their families. This tireless effort has contributed to the creation of a more inclusive and understanding community, where the unique needs of individuals are met with empathy and compassion. Araceli Gil remains committed to making a positive impact and driving positive change within her community.

With a strong passion for community engagement and education, Araceli Gil has made a significant impact on the Corona-Norco Unified School District (CNUSD) through various leadership roles and volunteer work.

As a Community Affairs Coordinator, Araceli Gil has been at the forefront of fostering connections between the school district and local communities. Her role has been instrumental in bridging the gap between the school district and the diverse communities it serves. Araceli Gil has worked diligently to facilitate open communication, partnership building, and collaborative efforts that benefit students and families.

One of Araceli's notable accomplishments is the active involvement as the President of the District English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC). In this capacity, she has advocated for the educational needs of English learners and their families. Araceli Gil has worked tirelessly to ensure that English learners receive the support and resources necessary to excel academically and thrive in the school system.

Additionally, Araceli Gil has generously dedicated her time and expertise as a volunteer on the School Site Council. Her contributions have been instrumental in shaping school policies and decision-making, ultimately improving the overall educational experience for students within CNUSD.

Through these various roles, Araceli Gil has proven her commitment to promoting community involvement, educational equity, and student success. Araceli's work exemplifies the positive change that can be achieved through active participation and community engagement in the field of education.

Araceli's motivation for being part of the Parent Advisory Committee at Inland Regional Center is deeply rooted in her commitment to advocating for the rights and well-being of individuals with disabilities and their families. She understands the significant challenges that families face when navigating the complex landscape of services and support systems. This firsthand experience has fueled her passion to make a difference and provide a platform for parents and caregivers to voice their concerns, share experiences, and work together for positive change.

Liliana Ramirez- Arias

Cofundadora de Grupo Padres por la Inclusión.

Ubicado en área de Palm Springs. y Desert Hot Springs California, donde vivo actualmente, esposa y madre de 3 hijos. Uno de ellos con DDX3X. Un desafío total. Y mi camino como líder comenzó así.

Mi formación altruista comenzó a muy temprana edad, apoyando en la comunidad con las personas más vulnerables. Acudiendo a otras familias a notificar necesidad de algún ciudadano y poníamos apoyar y solucionar.

Aquí en este país tengo 19 años y muchos de estos dedique de Voluntaria a la educación general y en formación de mis hijos mayores de educación general.

Mi formación como maestra me hizo ver la necesidad de involucrarme en la educación de mis hijos en este país, ya que su metodología variaba de lo aprendido en mi país México.

Así fue como me involucré en comités como presidente y secretaria en grupos como PTA, ELAC, DELAC, contribuía como voluntaria apoyando a los padres para que se involucraran en la educación de sus hijos, logrando así, que se formara un grupo para impulsar a la educación bilingüe en nuestro distrito, también a que se tuviera la oportunidad de que CABE, la organización de impulso a la educación bilingüe garantizara implementar su programa Project 2 inspire, conociendo el sistema educativo y una comunicación más efectiva.

Pero el diagnostico de mi hija, hizo que diera un paso adelante por carecer de apoyo y conocimiento de lo que es Educación Especial. Así fue como se fundó el grupo Padres Por la Inclusión.

La necesidad de encontrar un apoyo y una identidad después de recibir el diagnostico único de mi hija en la entera ausencia de grupo latino surge el grupo donde damos la bienvenida a quienes tienen necesidad de aprender.

aquí encontrara guía, apoyo, 1-1 y grupal para navegar en servicios y apoyar a su ser querido. "Que nadie se quede atrás ese es nuestro lema."

Amalia Barcelo-Huizar

IRC’s Parent Ambassador – Spanish Riverside County, Amalia Barcelo-Huizar works directly for IRC’s Manager – Community Engagement. Amalia is responsible for organizing Client and community trainings, attending outreaches and events as a representative of IRC, and sharing resources with the community.

An important duty assigned to Amalia is to build relationships with other parents, then guide and mentor them through the complex Regional Center System of Care. The end goal is to create parents with a strong knowledge of IRC, the Lanterman Act, WIC 4512, the Individualized Program Plan (IPP), and the ability to communicate effectively with their CSC.

She graduated in Business Administration and Tourism Activities at the University of Alicante, Spain. She has experience working in public agencies such as Regional Center OC, CSU-Fullerton, and in the private sector as a bilingual customer service representative.

Amalia enjoys advocating for individuals with special needs. She knows the importance of utilizing available resources, as well as building a support team, and a community. She is aware that language and cultural differences can sometimes be an obstacle that prevent parents and clients from reaching out and utilizing IRC resources. Amalia is looking forward to helping parents and clients navigate the available IRC resources.

As a member of this Committee, I hope to share the thoughts, needs and feedback of families I have met.

Lucia Babb-Rodriguez

Lucia Babb-Rodriguez is currently working with Children's Hospital Los Angeles, where she is a Parent Navigator Social Services Caseworker (3 years) and also runs her own practice from home to help Inland Empire Families; she is the Co-Founder of "Team Educate" where she advocates and support families in the areas of Special Education, Regional Center, MediCal, IHSS, and other generic services. She was a Program / Parent Coordinator at Fiesta Educativa for over ten years; she served the Disabled Communities of the San Gabriel Valley and Pomona; she graduated from Cal State Long Beach as a “Global Logistics Specialist,” and after 16 years of career, she decided to resign to attend the needs of her youngest son that was diagnosed with Autism. She is a proud Mother of two children: her oldest one, a twenty-five-year-old Daughter who serves in the U.S. Army, and her thirteen-year-old and Autistic lovely son. After the diagnosis was given to the Family, she decided to attend several pieces of training and educational courses and joined support groups where she worked as a volunteer for several years in exchange for Educate herself in the field of Autism Spectrum to help her own Family become better Advocates and at the same time help other Families that need support and guidance in different areas that need to navigate.

Her passion is a mix of encouraging and educating families that are not as fortunate as her own to obtain the proper training and services; she knows the struggles of families on the different systems because she is a Dyslexic adult and knows how difficult it is to face life without any support.

Lucia Y. Babb-Rodriguez 
Phone 626.539.6438
[email protected] | www.teameducate.org

Mari Rodriguez

My name is Mari Rodriguez, and I am the Cultural Specialist at Inland Regional Center. Inland Regional Center is a nonprofit organization that focuses on providing support for individuals with intellectual disabilities, autism, cerebral palsy, and epilepsy. Before joining the community Engagement unit at Inland Regional Center, I worked as a consumer service coordinator in the transition unit starting in 2015. Throughout my career, I have always been dedicated to advocating for my consumers to help them achieve as much independence as possible.

As the Cultural Specialist, my primary responsibility is to address disparities between Inland Regional Center and the community and find solutions to bridge this gap. I feel privileged to be part of a nonprofit organization that strives to help our community flourish through independence and inclusion. Working in this field has made me aware of the challenges and obstacles our families and consumers face in seeking support. My objective is to assist families in overcoming these hurdles and ensure they have the necessary resources to succeed. It brings me great satisfaction to positively impact the lives of the families and consumers I work with.

In terms of education, I hold a master’s degree in public administration, a bachelor’s degree in Sociology, and an Associate's degree in Social and Behavioral Studies.

Estefania Peña

Estefania has over a decade of experience working with the deaf community in various roles. Currently, as the Deaf and hard of hearing Cultural Specialist, Estefania leverages her own experiences as a Deaf individual to bring invaluable cultural insights to her role. She champions equality, delivers training to IRC staff and community members, and collaborates with the IRC Community Engagement team to raise awareness about American Sign Language (ASL) and inequalities within the Regional Center System of Care.

In addition to her work within IRC, Estefania is pivotal in advancing Deaf services throughout California. She is the Co-Chair of the Deaf Specialists Collective and actively participates in the DDS Deaf Steering Committee for the California Department of Developmental Services.

Helen Neri

Helen is the mother of four children, one of them has Cerebral Palsy and Multiple Disabilities. Helen graduated from her country as a Computer Engineer then she continued studying at Los Angeles College where she completed Medical Terminology I, II, III, Child Development, Medical Billing and Medical Coding.

Certificates:
Special Needs Network’s Parent Advocacy Mentor Program.
Intensive Parent Advocacy and Mentoring Training in Special Needs Network’s Parent Advocacy Mentor Program Learning Rights, Training Individuals for Grassroots Education Reform “Community Group Coaching Class”
Disability Rights Legal Center, Special Education Self-Advocacy and Coaching Training Academy
Los Angeles City College, In-Home Supportive Services Skills Certificate and VESL for Health Careers.
Los Angeles Police Department, Operation-Central Bureau Spanish Community Police Academy
Fiesta Educative Los Angeles, CPDA Leadership Training. “How to work with Community Group and Intensive Coaching Class”
First 5 LA training in series entitled “Leading Community Change”. These trainings are designed to strengthen participants’ abilities to play a leadership role in the community planning process.

Her youngest daughter gives her the strength and motivation she needs to keep doing what she does. When Helen first found out she was having her fourth child she was so happy to be able to bring another little human being into this world. Her pregnancy was normal there were no complications. At 7 months Helen went into labor and out came her beautiful baby girl, Destiny. During the first 2 months of her birth, she felt like there was something going on with her daughter. The doctors kept telling her there was nothing wrong with her. But she kept insisting, finally at 3 months, the doctors finally sent her in for studies and she was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and Multiple Disabilities. Helen’s life changed, she knew that she couldn’t sit and let this disability define her daughter. Helen tried to navigate this complicated system for people with disabilities. She came at a dead end and with no answers and more confused than when she first entered this life. After a long time of trying to figure out the system, Helen decided to be an advocate for her daughter the best way she could. She took classes of Advocacy to teach her how to navigate the system, how to get services that Destiny needed, how to be the best advocate for her daughter needed. When Destiny turned 3 years old, Helen realized that there were other parents that needed help too. She decided to start a support group for parents who have children with disabilities “Angeles Especiales”. She took it upon herself to give other parents the wealth of knowledge that she learned over the years and the resources they need for their own children. Now the group is 14 years strong and thriving, with 600 families. Helen coordinates monthly meetings for the parents in her support group to get up to date information about different services that can be provided for their children, different specialist and professionals are invited to come to the meeting and present on their subject of education. Helen works diligent to bring experts in different areas and present classes of different topics regarding Special Education, SSI, Medical, Medicaid, Regional Center and IHSS, so that parents can be able to demonstrate their skills and knowledge on how to navigate the education system and state services, and be an effective advocate for their families’ rights.
Helen took the Catholic Evangelization Bible courses from Missionary servants of the word for her to be able to offer the parents the opportunity to take Religious Education Classes for their Special needs children can have the Holly Sacraments (Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation) this wonderful program is supported by the Dioceses of San Bernardino and St. Joseph Catholic Church. Helen also coordinates social activities and recreational events during the year for the kids and their families to be able to participate and enjoy themselves in an inclusive environment and above all emotional support for the families.

Elvira Velasquez

Elvira Velasquez Padres Por La Inclusión / Parents For Inclusion. Currently living in Palm Springs CA. Married for 24 years. Elvira has 2 children, a 25 year old daughter and a 17 years old son with a current diagnosis of autism and other health needs. She’s a parent that is involved in the schools and her church. She started getting involved in her daughter’s head start and saw the importance of parent involvement ever since then continues to be in her children’s education. That’s where her passion grew. Not knowing Special Education hasn’t been an easy one. But is so thankful to be part of Padres Por La Inclusión where she got support and could talk about the issue going on with her son. Currently she’s the Vice President for Padres Por La Inclusión. Working alongside Lilliana Ramirez, the Co-found of the group. Lilliana Ramirez voices the need for ASL in the Coachella valley. Padres Por La Inclusión got the opportunity to pilot the first ASL class for Inland Regional Center at Desert Hot Springs in person.