First-Ever Re-Imagine Autism Awards

On April 30, 2016 in Culver City, California, we were honored and extremely proud to support my son, Enrique Duarte, as he received the Reimagine Autism Award.

This was the first-ever Re-Imagine Autism Awards, and it honored self-advocates who have redefined what the world thinks of autism. On the final day of Autism Acceptance and Empowerment Month, they recognized the accomplishments of five extraordinary individuals with autism. My son was among them.

Enrique Duarte, is a 16 year old high school sophomore who lives in Northeast Los Angeles and attends Early College Academy For Leaders and Scholars (eCALS) PUC Charter School. He has already made an imprint with his music and work within the autism community.

Enrique was awarded the Reimagine Autism Award for being an advocate for the disability community and for helping the world to listen to music that people with autism can make. He is a self-taught musician and has been playing electric, and acoustic for two years, and bass for one year. He has performed at several events including the World Games Special Olympics at USC, this past summer.

A true self-advocate at heart, Enrique has been an ambassador for several local non-profits.  He began advocating in Sacramento with the Board of Education and Policy Makers for education equality and inclusion at age nine. At the age of 11, he was honored at the Staples Center as honorary player of the game by the Los Angeles Kings for his work on helping pass the Autism Insurance Mandate in California.

Every year, he speaks at school assemblies, community events and conferences in Greater Los Angeles in honor of Autism Awareness and Acceptance.  Enrique aspires to be an attorney to influence public policy for the disability community and continue pursuing his passion for music professionally.

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Lisette Medina Duarte

Lisette Medina Duarte

Co-Chair at State Council on Developmental Disabilities

Lisette Medina-Duarte is a bilingual Los Angeles native. She grew up in Northeast Los Angeles’ Highland Park and graduated from Franklin High School. She continues to live in Highland park with her husband and her two children, who are on the autism spectrum. One of her children is in a charter school and the other is in a traditional public school. She has a strong passion and commitment to working with underserved and underprivileged communities. She is a grassroots organizer for social justice and educational advocacy, disability rights, equality and inclusions for African American and Latino communities of Greater Los Angeles.

In addition to managing multiple outreach, volunteer, and advocacy campaigns, Lisette’s 20 years of administrative experience have included fundraising, engagement, events, and sponsorship procurement. She has served on several local and school district leadership committees, facilitates parent groups, conducts workshops, and is often invited to speak at conferences. She is currently a member of the advisory board for UCLA’s Tarjan Center and a member of the Empowerment Congress. She was appointed by former Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina to the state Council on Developmental Disabilities. She is also a member of the Community Police Advisory Board for the Northeast Los Angeles Police Department. She is also a consultant and board member for several California nonprofits. She works as a senior coordinator in field operations and development for a national nonprofit organization and is responsible for serving Los Angeles County, Orange County, and San Diego County.

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