Board of Directors
Founder and Board Chairman
Originally from El Salvador, Irma Velasquez, a social entrepreneur, has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1963. After graduating from the University of San Francisco, she pursued a career in financial services. Upon the birth of her son, she left business to devote time to her family and to her lifelong passion for art. In the late ‘90s, Irma founded De Colores, an art school dedicated to children’s innate creativity. However, soon after De Colores was up and running, her son was diagnosed with autism, her love for her son and her understanding of the needs of the individuals and families affected by autism, inspired her to start Wings Learning Center. In 2005 she was honored with the prestigious Jefferson Award for her work in community and public service. This is a calling that continues to drive her commitment to non-profit Boards that educate, support, and advocate for individuals with disabilities. She is an active member of the following Boards: Autism Society of America San Francisco, Northern California Woman’s Caucus for Art, Bay Are Housing Corporation, Rident Park and Wings Learning Center. She is an artist, a writer, life coach, and entrepreneur who believes in the transformative nature of the creative process and in the positive change that the arts offer to our world community.
La Donna Ford MD
La Donna graduated from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences with a doctorate in medicine. After her residency in anesthesiology, she entered public service in the United States Air Force followed by a stint in private practice. After the diagnosis of autism in her son, La Donna left medicine to devote her time to her son.
La Donna is dedicated to helping her son achieve independence and happiness. She and her son are active in many mountain and lake sports activities. La Donna is committed to working with Wings to guide her son into a productive adulthood.
Phil Shemanski, Board Treasurer, grew up in West Los Angeles and received his undergraduate degree from the UC Irvine. In 1980 he received his Master’s degree in Taxation from Golden Gate University (SF). Phil worked for 25 years as a tax accountant, 22 years as a CPA in the Palo Alto tax practice of Ernst & Young where he was part of a successful partner team, managing several tax specialty groups. Phil recently founded the startup ”Renewing the Renaissance™”—a company developing an online art school that also is dedicated to working with talented artists with challenges.
Anita has a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is a Staff Site Reliability Engineer at LinkedIn and she believes in data-driven decision-making. She is also a vocal director for community musical theatre and has put on several sensory-friendly productions.
Anita’s son has been at Wings Learning Center for over 10 years and he has blossomed while in their care. Anita is committed to helping Wings maintain its special magic while looking for ways to grow.