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Our Board of Directors 

Our team consists of passionate people dedicated to creating greater well-being and a world where everyone is valued for their unique contributions.   

Board Members

Pier Westra

Pier Westra was born and raised in Lakeland, Florida before attending high school at The McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee and graduating from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida with a degree in Sociology. Following his undergraduate work, Pier has spent 34 years helping those in need in various roles as a property and casualty claims professional. Managing local, regional and national claims organization in day to day as well as catastrophe situations, he has found value in helping families to rebuild their lives during a time of loss. His ability to martial resources, engage the community and motivate groups to act has brought value to the Non-Profit he and his wife started called Javamo Art for Autism Foundation (later changed to Autism Shifts) and Artistas Café, a social enterprise whose mission is to employ individuals with Autism.

 Pier and his wife Vicky adopted their daughter, Gabrielle, from Romania at age two and who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at the age of four. Pier and Vicky became acquainted with the obstacles that face those with disabilities. Whether in obtaining the best support system available for Gabrielle, or helping young adults on the spectrum reach their highest level of independence and joy. Pier’s desire to serve those with disabilities, in conjunction with his personal and professional experiences, brings a unique and holistic approach to his role on the Board of Autism Shifts as well as Artistas Cafe.

Vicky Westra

Vicky Westra is the Founder of Autism Shifts, a 501(c)3 Non-profit Foundation and Artistas Café, a unique Social Enterprise whose mission is to employ individuals diagnosed with Autism. Prior to her current entrepreneurial role, Vicky worked at Tampa Electric Company for 22 years in various roles. Her last role prior to leaving TECO was Director of Customer Services and Marketing.

 Vicky has a B.S. in Business Marketing from The University of Tampa. She is married to Pier and has one child, Gabrielle (Gabbi). Gabbi was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) when she was four years old. Through their journey with her own daughter, as well as her experience providing training and employment for individuals with Autism, Vicky has developed a very comprehensive and unique understanding of the diagnosis.

Vicky is now on a mission, through Autism Shifts, to provide greater education and understanding about the diagnosis and help communities re-imagine a new world for Autism. Autism Shifts’ programs serve the four groups that are key to making this happen, which include: 1) individuals diagnosed with ASD 2) Parents/Caregivers/Families of those diagnosed 3) Businesses who want to become Autism Employment Ready and 4) the broader population.

Vicky believes the timing is right and Tampa Bay is the perfect place to create the first Autism Ready Community model!

CHRIS CAVALIERE

A practical advisor and passionate advocate for his clients, Chris helps businesses prevent and resolve legal disputes, particularly those with their own employees. Chris also regularly represents clients before state and federal administrative agencies and courts. Having a strong background as a litigator and trial attorney, Chris prepares each case with an eye toward trial and fearlessly advocates for his clients. Chris began his legal career as a criminal prosecutor, during which time he tried more than 20 jury trials. Thereafter, Chris represented international corporations, small businesses, and insurers in a variety of legal disputes. While in law school, Chris received the Victor O. Wehle Award for excellence in trial advocacy, served as a Senior Associate on the Stetson Law Review, and interned for the Honorable Susan C. Bucklew, Senior United States District Court Judge for the Middle District of Florida. Chris is also a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's most prestigious academic honor society. When he is not serving his clients, Chris can be found playing softball, hopelessly rooting for the New York Mets, and enjoying his time with his beautiful wife and children.

DENNIS HARTIN

Dennis has a unique passion for helping others, whether in his profession, community, or circle of friends and family. He was born in KY and locating to Tampa in 2014 with his wife and two boys. He founded Hartin Dynamics in Jan if 2018 doing anything necessary to help his clients attract and retain the best talent. He views The Autism Shifts organization as one of the best programs to help employers connect with our populations with “Uniqueabilities”. After attending Autism Shifts meetings he realized how much this population is underserved. He serves on multiple boards including Autism Shifts the Florida Association of Health Underwriters, Children’s Dream Racer and the National Center for Performance Health. His current efforts align Dynamic solutions that assist in training the neuro diverse, comforting children with cancer and the growing mental health epidemic.
 
 
 

DELORIA NELSON

Deloria is the President and Founder of Authentic Culture and Engagement Solutions, Inc. ACE. ACE is a dynamic consulting firm that has a dual focus on organizations and individuals. Dee was recently the Managing Director of Diversity & Inclusion for Charles Schwab & Company where she lead the national Inclusion efforts for the firm. Deloria is a published author and amazing speaker who has worked professionally in Human Resources for more than 25 years with various Fortune 500 companies including Walt Disney World. Deloria’s personal brand is positive energy and an uplifting spirit. Her commitment to Diversity & Inclusion stems from her personal mission statement which encapsulates helping people find and leverage their unique gifts. In her spare time, you will find her writing poetry, spoiling her twin granddaughters or on the farm with her husband, children and adorable goats.

MARILYN BURROWS

Marilyn is a strategic-thinking Marketing and PR executive with many years of experience driving brand awareness, sales and retention across consumer and business sectors. She currently runs her own Marketing Communications agency called A Strategy Matters. Marilyn brings 25+ years of experience leading national marketing strategy for GTE, Verizon and Frontier Communications. One of her favorite accomplishments was being the Marketing Director that led the team developing the Verizon brand which is currently valued at $65B. Her proudest moment with Autism Shifts was working with the media to launch the Artistas Café Food truck and seeing, Ray, one of our baristas, eloquently represent us on live TV after admitting that before Autism Shifts he had been a glorified mute. “I believe in the work we’re doing and look forward to inspiring our Autism community.”

PRASANNA KARUR

Prasanna is currently a medical student at Nova Southeastern and has a passion for serving the autistic community. He comes to the Tampa Bay area from Dallas, Texas, his hometown. He graduated from Emory University in 2021 and from Columbia University with a Master’s in Narrative Medicine in 2022. He is the host of a podcast called PlayGround, where he has conversations with strangers about rediscovering their inner child and childhood adventures. He is hoping to become a neurodevelopmental disabilities physician who specializes with children with autism and other developmental disabilities. His dream is to connect the community aspect with the medical approach of neurodiversity as a leader physician and community worker. He has experience volunteering with children with developmental disabilities and is branching out his volunteer experience through Neuroshifts. He also has interests in entrepreneurship and hopes to learn a lot through serving on Neuroshifts executive board.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

MARIA EUGENIA SALAS

Maria Eugenia was born and raised in the vibrant city of Caracas, Venezuela. Throughout her life, her family and her career have been the driving forces that have shaped her journey. Married with three sons, her perseverance and dedication have been the cornerstones of her professional and family achievements, allowing her to reach positions of high responsibility in multinational companies and guiding her older son's life path after his diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome. Despite the challenges, her older son has achieved remarkable success, earning a college degree in history and living independently in Tampa.

For eight years, Maria Eugenia and her husband volunteered at their son's school, participating in a program designed to foster better communication between parents and children, as well as between couples. This experience not only strengthened their family bonds but also provided invaluable support to the broader community.

Now retired from her corporate career at Nestle Venezuela as a Business Executive Officer, Maria Eugenia continues to apply her strategic planning skills, assisting family and friends with their business endeavors. Since relocating to Tampa, she has been seeking opportunities to collaborate with families navigating the journey of raising neurodiverse children, drawing from her own experiences and insights.

In her personal life, Maria Eugenia enjoys the companionship of dogs, finds solace in music, and embraces the opportunity to travel and explore new horizons.