Deyanira Isassi-Velasco

Program Director

Deyanira "Deya" grew up in Mexico where she graduated and married her college sweetheart before moving to Austin where she has lived for the past 35+ years. Deya’s most important and rewarding role is and has been raising two wonderful children, now successful adults, on the autism spectrum. In addition, Deya is a proud grandmother of four grandchildren. Deya holds a BSc degree in Agricultural Engineering and a master's degree in human services with a Certification in Advanced Mediation.

Professionally, Deya has worked with great organizations that share her belief that access to relevant information, empowerment and supports improves the outcomes and quality of life for individuals with disabilities and their families. For more than 25 years Deya has served her community through various community organizations, committees both professionally and as a volunteer. As a staff member of the Arc of the Capital Area, Deya advocated for more than 250 families with disabilities of low socio-economic means (primarily Spanish speaking) in the public education system, promoting special education rights for bilingual students with and without disabilities, supervising emotional support groups for families of children with disabilities and facilitating collaborations between schools and parents. Deya was part of the collaboration that brought Dual Language education to Austin ISD and testified for a Texas Congress committee about the need of bilingual special education teachers. At CASA of Travis County, Deya supervised volunteers appointed to represent children's best interest in court. Deya's last role in CASA was as a Family Finding Supervisor, supporting volunteers with finding relatives for youth aging out of the system, and in general supporting due diligence finding relatives to place children in care before considering foster homes.

Deya published an article about a parent-to-parent support model for families of children with disabilities in Mexico. More recently, she collaborated with Safe Place Austin in creating “Promoting Justice - An Essential Resource Guide for Responding to Abuse Against Children with Disabilities”, a document intended to provide essential knowledge of autism for first responders and the judicial system.

Deya volunteered for Safe as a Legal Advocate accompanying victims of abuse during their protective order request hearings. She also volunteered as interpreter for patrol officers during arrests for the Austin Police Department. Deya continues to volunteer her time supporting any family of individuals in the autism spectrum disorder that contacts her looking for guidance or support.

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