BEACONS, Inc. is a California 501(c)(3) nonprofit public benefit corporation founded in 2018 to provide vocational, recreational, and social activities as well as services to adults with developmental disabilities and their support teams to create pathways and outcomes to improve access to employment, the community and social connections. Effective August 19, 2019, Beacons, Inc. became a state funded vendor of the San Diego Regional Center (vendor # PY1700).
Beacons is the brainchild of parents who through their participation on a variety of special ed related organizations, taskforces, boards and groups, recognized that more postsecondary options were needed in North County San Diego to serve individuals with developmental disabilities. Too many individuals with developmental disabilities did not have jobs or sufficient postsecondary educational options leaving many isolated and at home. Beacons opened its doors in November 2018 to provide meaningful options created by those who "live" the journey and recognize the need for better outcomes for their loved ones. (Back to top)
Our mission is simple: To empower adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to achieve their vision of success, with purpose and joy to the best of their ability. Through our on-site (and off-site) structured programs, workshops, services and activities based on these individuals' preferences and needs, Beacons, Inc. strives to equip individuals with developmental disabilities (as well as their families, and care teams) with knowledge, tools, and support to help them succeed!
To bridge gaps to the workforce, Beacons develops partnerships with local businesses and government entities to increase options for paid internships, competitive integrated employment (CIE), and volunteer opportunities. Our clients will be out and about in the community working, training, volunteering, interacting and exploring.
Join us as we work around their needs and interests, instead of trying to make these individuals fit into options others select for them. (Back to top)
We opened our doors in November 2018 to create a family guided, outcome driven, and person driven postsecondary option in North County San Diego. In less than a year, we launched a bi-monthly social club (Club Beacons), vocational training workshops (our Pathfinder Program), a Leadership Council to provide a forum for input and guidance from those we serve, marketplace fundraisers to teach individuals how to sell and manage money, and more! Generous grants from NFAR and Qualcomm, and vendor recognition from the SDRC, helped us complete our 2019 development phases in half a year. Support from the Carlsbad Cultural Arts Committee helped us offer opportunities for fine arts development. In August 2019.
Our vision is to work with adults with disabilities so that they can better engage in their community, access our local workforce, develop health and fitness routines, explore and identify housing needs and options, and self-advocate so that they can meet their life goals.
OUR 2020 BOARD & CHAIRS
Please note that Board members, Committee Chairs and Advisory Council members serve Beacons, Inc. on an entirely volunteer basis, and receive no payment of any kind for their efforts and contributions. All donations go to programming and instructional staff.
President/Chair: Fundraising (Co-Founder)
Mary Backer has a B.A. in American Studies from Notre Dame and a Masters in Library Sciences. Mary worked in publishing before leaving the 9-5 world to care for her three daughters. For the last several years, she has dedicated her energies to supporting her daughters' schools and athletic pursuits. She served as a Girl Scout leader for all three girls and on the GS Encinitas Service Unit Team for all three daughters. Mary's community contributions have also included serving on the Committee for the local Young Life Capernaum and Young Life fundraising committee for 4 years. Mary is currently an active member with the NCL, Inc. Surf Cities Chapter and serves on their Board of Directors as VP of Standards and Hours. She also served on the Special Education Forum for the San Dieguito Union High School District and actively fundraises to find a cure for Rett Sydrome through the Rett Syndrome Research Trust. Mary's other contributions to Beacons, Inc. have included being the nonprofit's Vice President (2019), Treasurer and Corporate Secretary (2018). (back to top)
Vice President/Chair: Pathfinder Division, Grants and Technology (Co-Founder)
A UCLA alumni, Lucile brings to Beacons her business experience as a co-founder of an educational company that produced and distributed educational tools throughout North America and Asia. Products Lynch guided from concept to market earned top honors from KidsFirst! Coalition for Quality Media, CreativeChild Magazine, Dr. Toy, The ToyMan®, School Library Journal, Booklist and other nationally recognized entities. Lynch has appeared on NBC San Diego, the Balancing Act (airing on the Lifetime Channel), and has been featured in other media for her work. She also wrote for Examiner.com on special education issues until its change in ownership in 2016 to Axys. Lucile also has over 15 years experience advocating for persons with developmental disabilities as an education advocate and as an active participant on local and regional committees and boards dedicated to supporting persons with disabilities and other barriers, including the CAC executive board for the North Coastal Consortium for Special Education. She has been awarded a congressional Order of Merit for her work in addition to two awards for "excellence in special education" by a regional 14-district special education consortium. Prior to the arrival of her twin boys, both of whom have disabilities, Lucile served as a prosecutor, chief of staff for a state Supreme Court Justice, and as a litigation attorney for the firm of Reed Smith. She also served as an account executive for an entertainment public relations and marketing firm, where she handled talent, film releases and sports-related nonprofits. Lucile currently serves on the North Coastal Consortium for Special Education Transition Services Taskforce, and actively supports legislators by devising language for bills that empower those with developmental disabilities. Lucile's other contributions have included being the nonprofit's President (2019), and Treasurer (2018) . (back to top)
Vice President/Chair: Club Beacons
Laura Makings is a licensed Cosmetologist and mom to two young men. Laura brings to Beacons, Inc. her extensive experience working with persons with disabilities and real world business experience to help guide workforce discussions and programming input to Beacons, Inc. Laura worked for many years in local salons, negotiating rental space, managing client schedules, and balancing customer needs and will contribute valuable business insights to help budding entrepreneurs and entry-level job applicants prepare for successful job exploration into the community. After becoming a mom, she dedicated her efforts to supporting the local public school districts as a classroom aide, art instructor (Arts Attack), den leader for Cub Scouts, and committee member for the Boys Scouts. She was also active on the PTSA at Diegueno Middle School and the Foundation at La Costa Canyon High School. Laura now advocates on behalf of adult students with disabilities at the community college level and hopes to help Beacons, Inc. illuminate a fresh path. Her prior contributions have also included serving as Beacons, Inc.'s Corporate Secretary (2019) and as a Board member-at large (2018) (back to top)
Vice President/Chair: Facility Operations, HR and Tailored Day Division (Co-Founder)
Janet has a Master's in Public Administration from USC and a Master's in Non-Profit Management and Communal Service from Hebrew Union College. She has dedicated her life to being an advocate for others. From her younger years to her career choices, to her personal family story of having children with special needs, Janet has been a fighter for what is right and an organizer who makes things happen. Her first career was a community organizer, an advocate for civil rights, religious liberty, public education and women's rights, and an experienced project director for various organizations. Her second career has been as a property manager and owner of a residential senior property. Janet has been an unwavering advocate for her younger son with special needs as well as for her older son. In Orange County, she was active as the chair for the Community Advisory Committee for the regional special education consortium for Saddleback Valley Unified School District, and a member of the Brit Tikvah support group for families with special needs in her synagogue. She is a founding member of the Special Education Parent Forum with the San Dieguito Union High School District. Janet's past contributions to Beacons, Inc. have included serving as President (2018), Treasurer (2019) and as a Board member at-large. (back to top)
Corporate Secretary/Chair: External Communications
Karen grew up on a farm in Ohio. This lifestyle helped her develop a strong work ethic while tending to the needs of many animals. She was an active member of Girl Scouts and 4-H clubs in her hometown. Karen brought this experience to her daughter’s Brownie and Girl Scout troops when they moved to San Diego. She and her husband owned a Mobile Disc Jockey Company serving the Wedding and Corporate sectors with event planning, emcee and music entertainment. They managed 15 employees and every aspect of the business for 10 years.
When their daughter was born in 2000, they sold the DJ business and pursued different careers. Her husband obtained his teaching credential and Karen obtained a BFA in Interior Design from Design Institute of San Diego. Karen now focuses most of her design work on universal and accessibility design to ensure access to any built environment for people with disabilities. After her daughter was diagnosed with autism, she vowed to work diligently to create a supportive and positive environment of success for her daughter as well as other families in the same situation. She has served as a CAC rep for the Del Mar Union School District and is currently a CAC rep for San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD). Karen was proud to serve on the SDUHSD Special Education Task Force in 2018. Karen's contributions to Beacons, Inc. have also included serving on the Board in 2019. She balances her life with hiking, pilates,yoga and meditation.
Board Member/Chair: Community Partnerships
Stacey has a B.S. in finance from SDSU and over 25 years in mortgage banking. She has worked all aspects of real estate loans, including sales and originating, and managed three Wells Fargo Branches in southern Utah and Nevada. She has served as a volunteer for a wide variety of organizations including Labs and More, REINS, Love on a Leash, Paw'sitive teams and other organizations. She has also volunteered to work with medically fragile children, support students in special education and ESL classes, and senior living homes.
Stacey is the proud mother/step mother to three wonderful adult daughters. She loves to travel, camp, and spend time with friends and family. She is also a novice quilter, photographer, scrapbooker, and line dancer! She joins Beacons, Inc. in 2020 to develop partnerships with our local community businesses to help build employment pathways for our Pathfinder and Tailored Day trainees. (back to top)
OUR ADVISORY COUNCIL
Our Advisory Council consists of 10 community leaders and advocates nominated by our Board to serve in an independent advisory capacity to provide guidance and support to the Board regarding existing and future options in the areas of community outreach, fundraising, and programming. The Advisory Council meets once a month and presents recommendations and suggestions to the Board for its consideration.
Co-Founder & Advisory Council
Karin Barrows has a degree in marketing and management from Berkeley College, and over a decade of experience in the fashion industry working not only as a Ford model, but also in the fashion design departments at Jones Apparel Group and Ralph Lauren guiding designers, identifying trends, and creating vision boards to drive design concepts and planning. Karin brings a creative perspective and industry insights to Beacons, Inc. to help adults with disabilities tap into their own personal and unique style. An active outdoorswoman, Karin has served as a ski team coach, lifeguard and swim instructor and even trained her son to compete in a triathalon. She is passionate about using both outdoor adventure and fashion as a way to help persons with disabilities develop positive attitudes towards themselves and the world around them. She is proud of her son with special needs who, under her guidance, is an exceptional skier, hiker and mountain biker. She co-found North County's Coastal Trekkers to provide outdoor opportunities and adventure challenges to help youth and young adults develop outdoor skills and confidence. Karin also served as a girl scout leader for several years, on the Special Education Forum for the San Dieguito Union High School District, and as a co-chair for Club Beacons for the past year. (back to top)
Justine Fiore grew up on Long Island, New York, and has a degree in legal studies from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA. She went on to postgraduate studies in Law & Psychology at Harvard University’s Extension School. She worked as a corporate paralegal in large law firms in both New York City and Boston. Once she and her family relocated to California in 2006, Justine chose to dedicate herself to caring and advocating for her younger son, Simon, who was born in 2002 with multiple disabilities and a rare genetic syndrome. She and her husband, a scientist whose interests include neuroscientific research and advances in genetic autism, are involved in various philanthropic, research-based and educational programs related to understanding and improving the lives of those with neurodevelopmental differences. Justine is involved with the Phelan-McDermid Syndrome Foundation as well as The Lupus Foundation of America. Her passion is turning creative ideas and visions into reality. Justine enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, music, reading, meditation and Pilates.
Marlene Fisher obtained an Associate’s Degree in Administration of Justice from MiraCosta College, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from CSU San Marcos, and a Master of Arts degree in International Relations from the University of San Diego. While in college, she worked in various industries including retail, real estate, and government. She interned at a local police department and served as a graduate research assistant for a faculty department at the University of San Diego. Upon completion of her master’s degree, Marlene got her insurance license and worked as an underwriter and an account executive at an insurance company. She served on the EUSD Special Education Parent Council as a PTA school site representative and a NCCSE CAC representative. Along with other parent volunteers, she was awarded the NCCSE Collaborative Parent Award. She also served as room mom for three years in her son’s special day class. Marlene is currently the CEO of a technology company as well as a homeschool teacher to her children, one with autism.
Pam graduated with honors with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from San Diego State University, and a Master’s degree with Distinction in Special Education with an emphasis in Autism Transition from SDSU. Pam’s background and training has included being a family support liaison and resource specialist for Exceptional Family Resource Center, working for home behavior therapy programs and for the San Diego Unified School District implementing strategies to increase student success. Pam has served on regional taskforce committees as an advocate for developing increased programs and opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in transition and post-secondary education. She currently works as an education consultant, grant writer and evaluation specialist. This past year Pam served as a co-chair for Leadership Council and helped launch it in spring 2019. Community involvement, skill based learning, and increased intern and creative job skill development are her areas of focus. If ever you want to know what current events are happening in San Diego ask Pam as she and family will most likely be there. (back to top)
Julie is active in local and regional committees and boards as a special education advocate. She graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in education. She then went on to postgraduate studies at the University of San Diego, where she received her Special Education Law and Advocacy certificate, as well as her Paralegal certificate. She worked as a paralegal for around 4 years, and then after getting her broker's license, started Cheeseman Realty Group. Shortly after her son was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 2, she became an advocate in the special education community. Her contributions have included being on the board of the North Coastal Consortium for Special Education, the Special Education Parent Forum for the San Dieguito High School District, and the 2019 Special Education Task Force for the San Dieguito High School District. Julie has represented numerous districts as an appointed Community Advisory Council representative to the regional North County Special Education Consortium, representing the Cardiff Elementary School District, Encinitas Elementary School District, and the San Dieguito High School District. Julie continues to contribute to the community in order to make the world a better place for people who are differently abled.
Raised in San Jose, CA, Monica put herself through college working as the Santa Clara County Legal Aid Society Spanish Interpreter and as a Spanish radio personality for the prime week day morning show on KAZA 1290 AM in the Bay area. Monica has a B.A. in Communications, with an emphasis in Ethnic Studies from Mills College, and a San Jose State University Certification in Marketing Communications. Lopez worked in public relations on the agency side for the Bank of America, Sprint, and the California Office of Family Planning among others. Later, she was the Corporate Marketing Manger for Union Safe Deposit Bank, in San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties. Monica was a Corporate Communications Manager for the biotech cornerstone, Genentech headquarters in south San Francisco when her son was diagnosed with autism. Since then, she has devoted herself to managing his case. Monica has served on the Board of Directors for Valley Mountain Regional Center, Solano County Families for Early Autism Treatment, Solano County Special Education Local Plan Area and the Autism Society of San Diego. Her passions include architecture, interior design, housing for the disabled, and vocational training for the intellectually disabled.
Rachel Parks holds a masters degree in Counseling Psychology and has worked as an Executive Coach for nearly 20 years. In Rachel’s early career, she worked with individuals, groups, and families with mental illness and substance abuse issues. After moving to California in 1997, she supervised social work and community-based programs for the elderly at Jewish Family Service. In 2002, Rachel became a certified coach and soon earned her professional credential through the International Coaching Federation. Throughout her career, Rachel has supported domestic and international business owners and corporate executives to become highly effective leaders. As Senior Program Leader for Accomplishment Coaching, Rachel spent 10 years training coaches, leading teams, developing curriculum, and playing a pivotal role in growing a small company into a premier national training program. Rachel served as Vice President of the San Diego Professional Coaching Alliance and continues to serve Accomplishment Coaching as a consultant through her role as Leader Emeritus.
Rachel’s autistic teenage son is the inspiration for her work in the area of developmental disabilities. As the Inclusion co-chair at Temple Solel, she helps develop programs that connect families with special needs to one another including support groups and social activities. She also supports educational initiatives thought the organization designed to foster an accessible, inclusive and welcoming environment for all. Rachel is excited to support Beacon Inc’s mission and vision of empowering adults with disabilities to live their best lives!