WHO WE ARE
Mr. Gary founded the Special Education Advocacy Group in 2014 to serve a growing need for advocacy services in the East Bay and Tri-Valley areas. Mr. Gary entered the special education world almost 15 years ago as parent, and has been intimately involved with it ever since, both personally and professionally.
Mr. Gary began supporting families of children with special needs as a member of a ground-breaking PTA Special Needs Committee, eventually receiving the PTA’s most prestigious honorary service award, the Golden Oak Service Award for individuals making significant contributions to the welfare of children and youth in a community. Mr. Gary was asked to help guide and improve special education in his district alongside staff as a parent member of a Special Education Steering Committee. He eventually served on a small panel of parents and staff tasked with a year-long process of redesigning the district’s special education processes and procedures to better support both families and staff. Mr. Gary helped his local district become a single-district SELPA, and has served as Chair of its Special Education Community Advisory Committee on and off since 2006.
Mr. Gary eventually served professionally as a full-time Special Needs Liaison for six years, supporting families and staff at 35 schools with a population of 32,000 students. In addition to training both staff and families, he acted as an independent neutral and facilitator to resolve all manner of disputes regarding special education and special needs. He has attended over 700 IEP and 504 meetings (although he isn’t counting anymore), and has supported nearly as many families on their individual special education journeys.
Mr. Gary has presented countless parent and staff education workshops on topics regarding special needs, including the IEP process, 504 Plans, IEP goals, effective communication, helping struggling children, fostering independence in children with special needs, alternative dispute resolution, successful collaboration, accommodating students with special needs in the general education classroom, and more. Mr. Gary remains sought after by both parent groups and school districts for such presentations.
Mr. Gary is the father of two remarkable young men, of whom he is very proud, and a lucky husband of an amazing woman. He is a scout leader, a SRVHS mountain bike team ride leader, and loves to ski, snow board, cycle, sail, camp, backpack, and do just about anything outdoors – especially barbecue.
Laura is passionate about helping children receive the education and services they need and deserve. She brings over 20 years of educational experience to the practice as a Special Education Advocate, Special Education Program Supervisor, Teacher for Moderate-to-Severe Special Day Class and an Independent Home School Teacher/Principal.
After beginning her career as an Independent Home School Teacher/Principal, Laura returned to school to support her transition to special education when she found her enthusiasm for helping children with special needs. During her first year as a Teacher in a moderate-to-severe special day class, she won an Excellence in Teaching award from the SELPA for her work advocating for her students and implementing curriculum. Her classroom also served as the model high school classroom for the country based upon the unique moderate-to-severe curriculum she taught. Laura next transitioned into the role of a Special Education Program Supervisor where she worked tirelessly assisting and advocating for her students and their families to establish the supports and services needed for success.
Laura transitioned into her role as a Special Education Advocate in order to work more closely with students and their families without the constraints of the public school system. Having worked on both sides of the table, she has developed strong working relationships with district employees and understands how to brainstorm and collaborate to achieve the best possible outcome for her clients. Laura’s calm demeanor, honesty, and practicality supports parents on every step of their journey. Laura’s experience allows her to provide expertise, passion, energy, and most importantly hope to every family she represents.