Our Staff

Isabel C. Garcia, President/CEO
Isabel Garcia joined Parent to Parent of Miami in 1989 and served as Vice President and President of the Board from 1992-1997. In 1997, Isabel was designated the Executive Director of the program, and later that year Parent to Parent of Miami became one of the first ten federally funded community parent resource centers receiving grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Isabel shares her home with her daughter, Daniela (who has Cerebral Palsy), her husband Mario, and Foxy the Jack Russell Terrier. Her daughter Maritza got married in May 2012, shares her home with her husband Kevin and  Ripley the Shetland Sheepdog. The love of her family and working with children with special needs and their families is the energy that feeds her soul. For her efforts, Isabel has been recognized with the Children’s Services Council 2002 Champion for Children Community Service Award, The Exceptional Parent Maxwell J. Schleifer Distinguished Service Award and in 2008 Parent to Parent of Miami received The Children’s Trust 2008 Excellence Award Programs for Children with Disabilities. In April 2009, she was honored with the Cruz-Whitehurst Advocacy Award at the Annual UM-NSU CARD Tropical Nights Event.

Farides Garcia, Operations Manager
Fari has been with Parent to Parent of Miami since 2003. She first served on the Board of Trustees as Treasurer in 2004 and as President from 2007 to 2009. She is the mother of two boys; her youngest is diagnosed with autism. Fari strives toward making the world a better place for children with autism and all disabilities. Her goal is to help families find their voices, and bring the family perspective to those in the community serving children with disabilities. She has been on various panels presenting the family perspective to medical students, therapists and other healthcare workers. Fari has served on other councils including the Young Children with Special Needs and Disabilities Council and the University of Miami’s Exceptional Student Education/Pre-K Disabilities/ESOL Advisory Board. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Nursing from the University of Miami.

Lauren Bustos-Alban, Advocacy & Training Manager
I was born in the States but went to school in Cali, Colombia where I received my degree in Early Childhood Education.  I am the proud mother of three extraordinary children Daniela, Juan Felipe and Johanna.  My son Juan Felipe was diagnosed with a Specific Learning Disability when he was eight (8) years old but that has never stopped him from achieving anything he has desired in life.  I joined Parent to Parent of Miami in February of 2004 and fell in love with special education law and advocacy.  I’ve been given the opportunity to provide help, hope and support to children with special needs and their families. Parent to Parent of Miami has served thousands of families through the years and I am blessed to be a part of that.

Ana Laura dos Santos Lara, Transition Manager
I was born and raised in Cordoba, Argentina, studied law and also attended art school. I have been working with Parent to Parent of Miami since 2008. During the past couple of years, I have worked closely with the families as an Education and Support Specialist, on specific projects such as Early Discovery, and as Transition Manager with Project Panther LIFE and Panther PLUS. Currently I am working with families of students in transition age and researching post-secondary programs to help more families learn about the options available within our community. Working at Parent to Parent of Miami and guiding other families has changed my life. With a strong belief that parents’ involvement and education is the key to success for families who have children with disabilities, I enjoy using my advocacy skills to help families make a difference and help their loved ones reach their full potential.

Michelle Arregoitia, Lead Education & Support Specialist
I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. I attended a few universities from LSU, UF, University of Paris (France) and finally graduated from FIU with a degree in International Relations. I’ve been married for over 23 years and together we have one son. Joseph was born with Cerebral Palsy and has a speech impairment, dystonia (a movement disorder) and an intellectual disability. The journey of raising a child with a disability has been by far my greatest teacher. It has been both challenging and rewarding beyond belief and I truly consider this experience a gift. The lessons learned and the values and perspective gained have made me into the more compassionate and empathetic person I am today. I joined Parent to Parent of Miami in December 2010 in the hopes of helping others through their own personal journey, empowering families and providing much needed support along the way.

Nicole Ravinet, Education & Support Specialist
My name is Nicole and I was born in Chile. After studying German and Psychology for two years, I gave birth to the greatest gift of my life, Sofia. She was born with Septo Optic Dysplasia. This condition involves underdeveloped pituitary glands and low vision among other medical needs. However she has the most amazing talent for music! Through this journey, I have learned many unexpected and profound things and to never give up and always persist in your goals. I have been working at Parent to Parent of Miami since 2007, where I have the privilege to share with many families the challenges and joys of our everyday lives with our children. We never stop learning.  While we are here to support families, providing the help is a wonderful reward.


Sandra Rancano, Education & Support Specialist
I was born in Cuba and raised in Miami.  I am the proud mother of two very special daughters, Katerina and Cristina.  Katerina has high functioning autism and will be graduating from high school this year and attending college.  It has not been an easy road but Parent to Parent of Miami always supported and guided me through the special education process. Cristina is in the gifted program and is also a special education student in high school.  My husband and I have been married for over twenty years and have experienced all the ups and downs of raising children with special needs.  I have an Associate’s Degree in Elementary Education from Miami Dade College and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Florida International University.  It is a privilege to be assisting families through their special education journey and empowering them with knowledge.

 

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Marcia Morales, Education & Support Specialist
I am Vanessa and Michael’s mom.  On the day Vanessa was born, I learned the overwhelming joy of motherhood and Michael reminded me, only one year later, how tender a newborn is and how all was complete and perfect with the world since I was blessed and honored to be their mother. Like them, I was born and raised in Miami, enjoying the sun, sand and water as much as possible; I swear Michael must have been a fish in a previous life the way he “lives” in the water. Michael has Autism and has taught me to look for and find happiness in very many places I would have never have thought of looking before. Someday, I hope to grow up to be like Vanessa, courageous, diligent and oh, so strong.  I am fortunate to have them and also fortunate to have the opportunity at Parent to Parent of Miami to share with families my experiences in raising a child with a disability and fulfill my lifelong desire to be able to support others, as others have supported me in this journey.



Idamar Siverio, Education & Support Specialist
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, studied Architecture and History of Art at Tulane University in New Orleans and lived for ten years in Las Vegas where I worked as an Architect and as a Professor of Architecture Design. I have been married for 16 years and we are parents to a beautiful, funny and strong daughter, Evelyn. She is the center of our universe. My interest in helping families with children with disabilities was born from personal experience. Evelyn has had delays in language and communication. For many years we have worked with amazing therapists- an immense team effort. Evelyn is a champion and the achievements, so worth it. It has been a very rewarding experience to walk along with families on the journey that is deciphering the many aspects of disability, education and advocacy for our children. It is my goal to teach and learn, to lead and to follow, to encourage and to always believe in the strength, courage and perseverance of all our children and families.

Linda Leyva,  Education & Support Specialist
Linda Leyva is from Nicaragua and a proud mother of three. At a young age she was blessed with a beautiful little angel born with Down syndrome named Priscilla, followed by two amazing boys, Riberto and Edwin. After her daughter was born, she decided to give her all her undivided attention by becoming a full time stay-at-home-mom. With three small children, a very busy schedule, and no time for much needed mommy massages, she still managed to continue her studies and get her degree at Miami Dade College. Now with the kids all grownup and almost 20 years of her own life experience advocating for her daughter, she would like to share and continue to give back all the help, support and knowledge she acquired throughout the years.  She is excited to join a team that shares her same vision: to help all kids with disabilities strive and become successful and the best they can be in their own unique way. Linda truly believes that for people with disabilities, the disability is not the end but the beginning of their future if they're given the appropriate wings to fly.

Silvia Calderon,  Education & Support Specialist
Silvia Calderon was born and raised in Mexico City and has a Bachelor’s in Communication Sciences. For years she worked as a radio producer, did voice over, wrote articles for three magazines and taught at two universities. But her real learning adventure began in 2009, when she gave birth to a beautiful girl with Down Syndrome, Sara. Like many Down Syndrome children, Sara was born with a heart condition and her health was weak, but this 4 pound little lady held on strong to life and she defeated death twice.  She was able to reach all her basic goals like crawling, standing up or walking with hard work and many therapies, and every time she was able to overcome her challenges.  She is the most rewarding treasure for Silvia and her husband!  Now Sara is a healthy 8 year old with all the strength to fight for her dreams and all the courage to shine bright like a little star.  The family came to Miami 6 years ago and with Silvia’s strong need to help others to understand the special world of special needs children, she feels blessed to be part of the staff of Parent to Parent of Miami since February 2017. During this time, she has had the satisfaction of giving help and support to those that need a little push to learn and advocate for their children.

Veronica Achon,  Education & Support Specialist
Veronica Achon is a wife and proud mother of two exceptional children. Her first-hand experience with different learning abilities has made a meaningful impact in her life. It is her privilege to have the opportunity to serve our local community by working at Parent to Parent of Miami. Veronica has a Law Degree from Andrés Bello Catholic University in Caracas, Venezuela, and a Master in International Legal Studies (LL.M.) from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Her professional experience spans client service at both law and consulting firms. In addition, she has relevant experience providing information, educational training and support to families as a birth doula -from pregnancy and childbirth to postpartum. Her current passion is to be of service and to leverage her lifelong skills, knowledge and experience to support, advocate for and empower families in understanding their children's educational rights, in navigating the Miami-Dade County Public School System, and the various community and educational resources available in our city.

Yaneisy Vega,  Education & Support Specialist
Yaneisy Vega was born and raised in Elizabeth, NJ, and moved to Miami in 2000. She graduated from a small business school in New Jersey, and has worked in retail,  airline and hospitality industry for many years. When her daughter was born more than 16 years ago, she finally understood the meaning of unconditional love, and then seven years later, her son was born and her life was complete. Yaneisy left a management position in the hotel industry when her son started showing signs of developmental delay and dedicated herself to reading and researching all she could, never wanting to feel that others were talking over her head.  She took him to therapies, and learned and applied the methods at home. She even came right here to Parent to Parent of Miami for workshops to gain all the knowledge she could to move forward in this new path of an autism diagnosis with confidence and hope. She enjoys working alongside a group of caring parents that are passionate about equality and empowerment for the special needs community. Her favorite word is enlightenment that ultimately leads to empowerment, which she feels is what Parent to Parent of Miami does for families of children with special needs.

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Rosy Ramos, Community Events Coordinator
I was born in Cuba and raised in Miami, Florida.   My strength and experience is in the field of administration, and I have a passion for helping others.  I share my home with my husband Manny, my daughter Melissa, my son Michael, and our beloved Dachshund named Toby. Melissa, who was diagnosed at birth with a neurological disorder called Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum, has taught me the true meaning of unconditional love.  I enjoy relaxing in sandy beaches, and love anything to do with music and dance.  I've been working at Parent to Parent of Miami since 1999. Throughout the years, I've shared my knowledge and experience with families. It is through adversity that we become stronger and continue to grow. At Parent to Parent of Miami, we make a difference in the lives of families who have children and adults with special needs.

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Mireya Garcia, Receptionist
My name is Mireya Garcia and I was born in Cuba.  My husband Armando and I have been married for 31 years.  We have a son, Kristopher, who lives in San Diego, a daughter, Kristina who lives in Boston, and the new member of the family, Kody our puppy.  I started working for Parent to Parent of Miami in March of 2013. In the short amount of time that I have been here I have learned to appreciate the great work that parents of children with disabilities do on a daily basis. It has taught me to appreciate the great work that goes into this organization.

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Jackie Acosta, Program Development Coordinator
I was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico and raised in Port St. Lucie, Florida. I am a graduate from Fort Pierce Community College with an AA in Computer Science, have been married for 30 years and have two wonderful boys. My oldest son, Guillermo, at the age of two was diagnosed with mild Cerebral Palsy. After this diagnosis my priorities changed and it became all about his needs: the therapies, horseback riding, coaches, tutors, and social groups. With my involvement in my son’s life, I knew I was giving him a better chance for independence for the rest of his life. I became knowledgeable about the laws and resources to better improve his chances of learning and recently have also learned about Guardianships and Special Needs Trusts. Guillermo is now an adult who works two part-time jobs, attends the Baking Program for adults with disabilities at J.R.E. Lee and volunteers at Zoo Miami when he is not busy. I want to share all my experiences of raising a child with a disability with everyone I come across and working for Parent to Parent makes this possible. I believe that Parent to Parent of Miami is beneficial for all families of children special needs – giving the support, resources and training required to make the dreams of our kids possible.

Ivette Chams, Information Specialist
I was born in Los Angeles, California and moved to Miami in 1985. I graduated from Miami Dade College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Supervision and Management. I have a 25 year old daughter, an 8 year old son, and have been married to my husband now for 13 years. My son, Michael, has Autism and ADHD. We recognized Michael had a disability when he was only 3 years old. We had an evaluation done at UM-CARD and began seeking out therapies soon thereafter. Today, Michael is a high functioning child who consistently achieves the honor roll every year in his elementary school. He is the sweetest, funniest boy I’ve ever met and he helps me to understand the world through interesting perspectives. I’ve learned to love life in a whole new way because of him, and I feel so blessed to have the privilege of being his mother. I am proud to be part of the Parent to Parent of Miami team and hope to support this organization in its mission to help all families and support their children with disabilities conquer their obstacles and achieve great heights in life.

Gail Plaisimond, Administrative Assistant
I was born and raised in Haiti. At the age of 14, I had the privilege to go and spend five years in Italy to finish my school. This amazing opportunity led me to experience diverse cultures and to know other languages. I then returned to my country and obtained my AA in Business Administration and moved to Miami in 2010 where I studied Graphic Design. I have three wonderful children: my daring and intellectual Robbie, my gorgeous and intelligent Nasha, and my bold and charming Nicholas. They drive me crazy but they mean the world to me. I recently started working for Parent to Parent of Miami and I’m very honored and excited to be part of such a great non-profit organization that makes a difference in many people’s lives, especially those with special needs.