Founder | CEO
TELL US HOW AEC WAS STARTED
My journey began 27 years ago working in a group home. I still remember the fun and fulfillment experienced in those early years, supporting the needs of the individuals in the home. I was very inexperienced, made many mistakes, and often found myself manipulated by the residents of the home. It was a huge learning curve at first. While I had gone into this field thinking I was making a difference in the lives of others, as it turned out, they were changing my life and my perspectives in ways I would carry with me throughout the rest of my life.
I unexpectedly found my calling and decided to abandon the corporate world and dedicate myself to supporting individuals whose needs have been historically overlooked and undervalued. I opened a small group home in Los Angeles in 1994, which is still in operation today. We were essentially a family serving other families in our community. As years passed, I had the opportunity to observe the services of the day programs that my residents attended. Being a passionate advocate, I would often drop in to check on their wellbeing and would find them in activities that were simply not engaging nor up to par with what they deserved. I wanted more for them and decided that one day I would develop a day program model to achieve my vision of care, training, and support. I wanted to develop a training center that was more person-centered and responsive to the individual interest and needs of those with diverse abilities. I tried for years to pitch my ideas to many regional centers but was unsuccessful. In 2008, the Regional Center of Orange County was gracious enough to give me that opportunity to bring my vision to life. From young ages, my children were also involved in assisting me in leading activities with the residents of the group home I operated. My kids were raised to recognize and appreciate those with unique differences and to pursue initiatives to advocate for those who could not advocate for themselves.
The first program was opened in 2009 together with my son Rick in Lake Forest. Today, my sons Rick and Ryan operate their own independent programs in Orange County, which have earned high esteem within the industry. I’m very proud of them and their ambition in providing the highest standards of unmatched quality services in our community.
In 2015, I moved on to develop AEC to support individuals in other areas of Orange County. Today, as a family, we are three independently operated programs but with one single united purpose.
Collaborating with my sons has helped produce a program model that has far exceeded anything I could have imagined on my own. Today, 27 years later, we are still a family serving other families in our community. I will always be grateful to the fine leadership of RCOC for believing in our vision and allowing us the opportunity to serve our community.