EP 6: Autism Shifts with Vicky Westra

Shifting Perspectives on Autism with Vicky Westra

By 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!

In this show, you will get to learn first hand from Darcy a highly functioning adult with Autism why it’s difficult for individuals on the Autism Spectrum to be successfully employed by businesses today. You will also hear from the founder of Autism Shifts Vicky Westra, what their organization is doing to better prepare businesses to integrate this highly motivated, talented and skilled workforce.

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