In celebration of Women's History Month in March, the Carlsbad Chamber Commerce recognized local leaders for their contributions in the areas of business, education, public safety, nonprofit leadership, and civic service. Mary Backer, former president of Beacons, Inc., was selected as a 2022 Woman of Impact for her nonprofit leadership of Beacons, which services adults with developmental disabilities in North County.
"During the pandemic, Mary provided calm and focused leadership that not only helped our nonprofit support those most in need without interruption, but also provided the reassurance needed to keep our team together through difficult times," said Lucile Lynch, the current president. "We've become stronger in the last two years and have expanded twice under her leadership. As a parent and co-founder, I am grateful for her tireless dedication and support."
Beacons, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit located just below the Palomar Airport that was recently recognized for "Making Dreams a Reality" by County Board of Supervisor Jim Desmond. Backer, a co-founder of Beacons, helped launch the nonprofit's Navigator division in January 2022. Navigator was designed to provide postsecondary community learning opportunities for adults once they leave their schools districts. Former San Dieguito teacher Bethany Britt is the division's director contributing her talents as a former special education teacher, and background as a credentialed administrator.
Beacons opened its doors in November 2018 with Club Beacons, led by Laura Makings, to provide social events to keep people connected over the weekends. Makings volunteered during the 2-year shelter-in-place order to provide Club events via zoom at no cost to participants to reduce isolation many confronted due the lack of community access or transportation. Emily Landers, an alumni of La Costa Canyon High School, contributes her creative talents to help lead Club activities, which are held twice a month on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays for individuals aged 16 and older. Landers also supports Navigator as an instructor.
Since 2019, Beacons has provided postsecondary vocational training through its PathFinder division, which recently reported 100% employment of its fall trainees who wished to have a job. (San County, by comparison, reports an employment rate of just over 14% for individuals with intellectual or other development disabilities.) PathFinder provides vocational training to teach soft skills, workplace safety, creative design, customer service, entrepreneurial skills, office skills and more. La Costa Canyon alumni Tyler Hershey serves as the PathFinder director.
Parent training and self-determination planning are also some of the many options at Beacons. Co-founder Janet Schenker currently directs these options as California rolls out its statewide Self-Determination program. Beacons is also supported by Board members Melissa Collins-Porter (Aging Out), and Charles Duncan in program development and fundraising.
Beacons is located at 6150 Yarrow Drive, Suite E, Carlsbad, CA. More information may be found at: BeaconsNorthCounty.com.