Board Members – Center4SpecialNeeds
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Board Members

Center4SpecialNeeds
1337 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., #202
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
Phone: 805.379.1681
Fax: 805.379.1682
info@center4specialneeds.org

Board of Directors

Gina M. Giambi Peters, Founder and CEO of Center4SpecialNeeds

gina@center4specialneeds.org

I am a single Mother and advocate to my son, Nathaniel Peters. My experience and education in Autism Spectrum Disorder and special needs comes through my own personal journey with my 13 yr old son, Nathaniel, who has a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD), Sensory Processing or Sensory Intergration Disorder (SPD), Anxiety and Adjustment disorder. My knowledge also comes from the vast amount of information I have gained through professionals such as: Behaviorists, Psychologists, MFT’s, Occupational Therapist’s, Speech Pathologist’s, Recreation Therapists along with the extensive personal education I have attained through books, magazines, other parents, the internet, conferences and workshops that I have attended over the past 11 years. I have been an Independent Resource Consultant for Special Needs community for the last 10 years. I have  co-created and published a bi-weekly Caregiver Guide and previously served on the Board of Directors as Secretary for another non-profit organization prior to founding Center4SpecialNeeds. I have been the recipient of The Champion of the Community 2009 Award through Conejo Recreation and Park District, The 2010 Parent of the Year Award through Autism Society Ventura County (ASVC), and also the 2014 Bravo Award from Nawbo, Ventura County, for Community Advocate of the Year. Previously, I have been the facilitator to middle schoolers at Redwood Middle School for 3 years during their Ability Awareness Program, educating them on Autism Spectrum Disorder. My objective is to continue to embrace and support all families with children who have developmental disabilities, regardless of their diagnosis, by providing community resources, education, information, direction and financial resources.

Justin Lofton, Vice President
Justin is the founder and CEO of Fresh Agency, a digital marketing agency that leverages advanced technology to help their clients hyper-target ideal prospects. Justin has been an entrepreneur since the age of 8. Justin has been building businesses and working as a business consultant for small to mid-sized companies across the United States for many years. Justin has developed unique marketing strategies and systems that have re-invented the way businesses leverage the Internet. Justin’s business knowledge and years of marketing experience leveraging search marketing, social marketing, content marketing and business automation brings Fresh Agency clients winning marketing strategies. Justin has also made it one of his life’s missions to help the families and children that are dealing with the struggles associated with special needs. Justin’s 8-year-old daughter, Amaya, was diagnosed with Autism and Apraxia at 18 months of age.  Justin has witnessed first hand what nutrition, extensive therapy and unconditional love can do to improve the lives of children with special needs and he strives to give more families the resources they need and to give these children the opportunities they deserve.

Greg Gutfleisch

, CFO

 

 

 


 

Greg is originally from Brooklyn, New York. He got married almost 17 years ago and moved to California where Joeli, his wife, is originally from. Greg and Joeli live in Westlake Village and have 2 children; Alex (boy) age 13 and Kyra age 11. They were both adopted from Russia when they were babies. They also have 2 dogs, Zoe a 6 year old Beagle and Stella a 1 year old goofy Golden Retriever. Greg became involved in the special needs community about 8 years ago when his son was diagnosed with FASD. His daughter was also diagnosed with FASD about 5 years ago. Greg, a non-practicing CPA, is currently a financial advisor, Certified Financial Planner® and Chartered Special Needs Consultant for a large investment firm in Woodland Hills, CA. He helps his clients with their investment and planning needs.

Sue Giambi, Secretary
I am a Wife of 42 years, a mom of two grown children, and grandmother. The reason I am part of Center4Special Needs is that my life has been touched in a very personal way, with the diagnosis of my grandson Nathaniel with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I have been part of many doctor appointments, play groups, sensory intergration sessions, Occupational therapy treatments, behavior therapy, counseling sessions, and respite care. Standing and suporting along the side of my daughter and grandson through this journey and process, I have learned so much about the tremendous amount of time, energy, care, sacrifice, financial burdens, that come along with having a child with special needs. It’s been a journey, but really a gift. I have gained so much knowledge and understanding. Being part of C4SN gives me the opportunity to give back and share some of my own experiences to help others along in their journey and to share with the greater community.


Board Members

Neil Palache
Neil has been in the ‘money’ business since 1983. Although he has owned and run several businesses, today, he is currently the Founder and Owner of the Wealth Creator Company for Women located in Westlake Village, California. As its Mission Statement states, “The Wealth Creator Company is dedicated to coaching and educating divorced and widowed women as they strive to establish their own financial well-being while moving towards and ultimately reaching financial independence.” Neil is dedicated to empowering women as is shown by his involvement in many community and business organizations such as the National Association of Women Business Owners Ventura County, Women’s Economic Ventures and the International Women’s Festivals Santa Barbara. He has also started several groups such as the Women’s Money Forums™ and the Divorce Transition Professionals™. Neil has been married to Stacie since 1987, has three beautiful children and lives and works in Westlake Village, California. 

Heather Cota, Volunteer Coordinator
Personally driven by passion to be useful where she can deliver the greatest good is only part of the reason why Heather is so committed to making a difference in the community.  Mother of two daughters, the youngest was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at 18 months, opening Heather’s eyes to the special needs community.  Even though her daughter Lily is high-functioning, she still faces many challenges associated with her condition–one of the greatest being the judgment that people place on her just by looking at her leg braces and her walker.  When Lily was 7 she voiced a frustration that she wished people would look at her braces and still want to talk to her and play with her and find out what a great kid she really is.  This candid insight started a fire within Heather to find a way to teach concepts of Diversity & Inclusion by giving typical people an understanding of the challenges that people with special needs face on a daily basis.

In October 2014, Heather organized the first Ability Awareness Week at Cypress Elementary School in Newbury Park, CA.  This event catapulted her from ‘working mom and champion of her own kids’ to Community Activist and Special Needs Champion, fueling her desire to make the most impact in both typical and differently-abled people uniting all to embrace Diversity & Inclusion concepts of respect and acceptance.  Heather received the Norm Lueck Award for Public Service in January of 2015 from the Newbury Parks Rotary Club, recognized as an Outstanding Citizen of the Year for representing humanitarian efforts as well as ethical values in business and in daily life.

She is an active member of the Bank of America Corporation Community Volunteers Communications Team and writes the monthly newsletter for the Greater Ventura/Santa Barbara/San Luis Obispo region.  As the Engagement/Philanthropy Chair of the Disability Advocacy Network (DAN) in Southern California, Heather casts a large net in the local branches of non-profit organizations (Special Olympics, Alzheimer’s Association, Joni & Friends, Foundation for Fighting Blindness, Susan G. Koman Foundation, and many more) to raise awareness in the community.  She is also the Ventura County United Way liaison for Bank of America, coordinating volunteer support for the many local United Way sponsored events.  Heather looks forward to broadening her sphere of knowledge, influence and outreach by being a part of the Center 4 Special Needs Board of Directors.

Advisory Board

Cecilia Laufenberg
A certified Recreation Therapist and has supervised Conejo Recreation and Park District -Therapeutic Recreation services for individuals with disabilities for over 20 years. She has prior experience as Program Director and Educational Advocate for the Learning Disabilities Association of Cleveland, and as a Rehabilitation Therapist at Camarillo State Hospital.

 Dr. Joseph Lee

Joseph Lee is the founder of the Law Offices of Lee and Baghoomian, P.C., a law firm which specializes in serving families that have developmentally disabled children. The father of a child with autism, Dr. Lee practices in an area of law which is near and dear to his heart. Prior to working with the disabilities community, Dr. Lee has served many organizations in many different capacities. He was first licensed to practice law in 1999 and worked for one of the largest litigation firms in the New Jersey/New York area. He moved to California in 2002.  As a Californian, Dr. Lee served many non-profits in different legal capacities. He served in some of the largest churches in the area as both an ordained minister and as corporate counsel. He served as the superintendent to a large Christian private school for a number of years as well.  Dr. Lee has been practicing disabilities law since his child was first diagnosed with autism, in 2007. When he realized how underserved that population was, he decided that he was going to start a practice to fill those unmet needs. Today, Dr. Lee’s practice includes advocacy for families, estate planning with an emphasis on families that have special needs issues, and help for small business support.  Lee and Baghoomian, as a litigation practice, also defends small businesses against abusive ADA lawsuits and provides support in compliance as well.  Dr. Lee serves on the Board of Directors of the Pasadena Child Development Associates, a non-profit organization which provides therapy to children who have developmental disorders. He is also involved with the DIR/Floortime Coalition of California, another non-profit which seeks to educate and advocate on behalf of providers of autism treatment and the families that they serve. Dr. Lee continues to be in good standing as an ordained minister with the Presbyterian Church.  Dr. Lee is a graduate of Seton Hall Law where he received his J.D., Boston College, where he received his B.A. in History and Political Science, he also has an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary as well as a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is admitted to practice law in California, New York and New Jersey.