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.
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 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!