The Neuroshifts Family - Team and Board Members.
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!
Her passion for helping those who are still looking for their path and are ready to pursue a life of well-being is her reason for being a part of our growing community. With a background of 20+ years in managing sales and training, she utilizes her expertise in managing our various courses and social groups.
In her spare time, you will find her baking for family and friends, motivating & supporting Nicholas on his life journey, and spoiling their adopted dog, Norman.
“Autism Shifts, now Neuroshifts, has provided me with the opportunity to do something I truly love. My work with the organization is something that brings me great pride and true joy.”
During High School and into college he would volunteer at the Florida Aquarium on weekends as he is passionate about zoology and marine life in particular. Receiving his very first job interview for a cafe employing young adults in the autism spectrum, he was hired as one of first team members at Artista's Cafe. He has built a strong work ethic working as an artista barista for six years providing customer service.
Outside work, Remmick was mentored by many art instructors from Vosler's Studios, Gessford Studios and renowned concept artists Terryl Whitlatch and Andrew Hou. Inspired by his love of marine life and fantasy, Remmick would create an acrylic/oil painting series of fantasy reef scenes. He has showcased his gallery of fantasy reef paintings around various outlets such as the Florida state fair and other local art shows in Tampa.
Aside from traditional painting and illustrating he has recently expanded his interests and grown a new passion for digital illustration, 3D modeling and animation. Since he has been very involved with technology thanks to his new hobbies he has been prospecting into new career paths to utilize his new appreciation for technology. Remmick is currently pursuing a formal education at HCC and mentorship in information technology and UX design."