The Arc of California’s Board of Directors unanimously voted in their new Vice-President, Grace M. Huerta of Bakersfield, California. Grace is President and co-founder for the Exceptional Family Center in Kern County, which was founded in 2007 by a group of parents and professionals who recognized the need for a center that is culturally sensitive to the unique needs of our diverse community. The center was created with the intent to provide families of children with a developmental disability with the tools and resources that they need to help their children succeed. What began as an annual conference soon turned into a center that, today, assists more than 300 families by providing them with services that target their specific needs. After graduating from The Arc of California’s Partners in Policy Making, she partnered and collaborated with her mother-in-law, Civil Rights Leader, Dolores Huerta. Grace became a community leader in organizing, training other parents with effective advocacy skills. Grace currently supervises and manages the Early Start Family Resource Center, a program made possible by a contract with the Department of Developmental Services (DDS). Grace has seen the difference people make when they get involved in the community. Grace has been recently selected to receive the 2019 Latina Leaders of Kern County Award.
Most importantly, Grace is a parent and advocate for her two young adult children with Intellectual Disabilities.
Making sure that individuals with Intellectual Disabilities have a platform and voice continues to be her biggest passion. Grace has been invited to be a presenter at various community engagements where she continues to educate the community in the benefit of investing in Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities, creating awareness of the value, potential and breaking down the barriers of perception.
Grace was voted in to fill the vacancy left by long-time parent advocate Bruce MacKenzie, from the Santa Barbara region, who stepped down from his position to spend more time with his family.