Creating pathways of empowerment through education

Our Story

Drs. Sofia Vergara and Kimberly Austin met 15 years ago while teaching at an independent upper school in the West Los Angeles area. We quickly discovered our mutual passion for inclusive education stemming from our lived experiences and work with students with a range of disabilities. This was the driving force for both of us to pursue our Doctorates in Educational Leadership, with our dissertations focusing on inclusion for people with disabilities.

Photo of Kimberly and Sofia at Abilities Expo LA 2020
Photo of Dr. Sofia Vergara

Dr. Sofia Vergara

Dr. Sofia Vergara has been a Spanish teacher at New Roads School for the last 17 years and served as Curriculum Coordinator for the Spanish division of her department. She is an alumnus of the school and decided to go back and work there after graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in Political Science and minors in both Spanish and Disability Studies. She also earned a Masters degree in Secondary Education  and Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership for Social Justice both from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles.

In 2017, Sofia was asked to join LMU’s School of Education as a lecturer where she has taught undergraduate and graduate courses focusing on disability and multiculturalism in special education, specifically in the areas of educational supports for students with disabilities (FBAs, IEPs 504 plans), IDEA, Universal Design for Learning, and transitional planning. Sofia also was Chair of the Board of Directors of the Westside Regional Center and currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the California Communication Access Foundation (CCAF) and Disability Rights Advocates (DRA). These educational and professional experiences, as well as Sofia’s passion for advocacy and inclusion of individuals with disabilities, are the essential driving forces behind her work at Bridges to Inclusion.

Dr. Sofia Vergara CV

Photo of Dr. Kimberly Austin

Dr. Kimberly Austin

Kimberly Austin has been at New Roads School for 17 years, currently in the role of Dean of Access, Equity, Inclusion & Engagement. She also has been an Adjunct Professor of Biology at Moorpark College for the past 18 years. Kimberly received her B.S. degree in Aquatic Biology from University of California, Santa Barbara, M.S. in Physiology and Behavioral Biology from San Francisco State University, and Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership from California Lutheran University.

Kimberly's research interests focus on faculty support of and best practices for teaching students with autism and other disabilities. Kimberly has co-authored articles on best practices for teaching and advising students with disabilities in publications such as Currents in Teaching and Learning and the Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability. In addition, Kimberly has presented as part of national conferences, as well as for professional development and graduate student trainings at independent secondary schools, community colleges and universities. Kimberly considers herself a native of Southern California, having lived there for more than 30 years, and enjoys spending time outdoors with her two children in her free time.

Dr. Kimberly Austin CV

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