Eddie Valentin | Chairman of the Board
Eddie is the proud father of 7-year-old Donnivin. Eddie has always dreamed of coaching his son Donnivin in baseball but due to limited resources available to Autistic children in The Bronx he did not know if it was possible. That’s why when he learned Lizette Hernandez was starting the Challenger League he immediately reached out to offer his services as a coach. He has enjoyed coaching not only his son but a large number of other children on the spectrum these pass 2 successful seasons. He doesn’t see the limits in our child only the vast possibilities. He feels it’s an honor to watch over and help our children reach new goals on the baseball field and beyond. Eddie is eager to continue helping our children reach new goas with our programs.
Jennifer Valentin | Vice Chairman of The Board
Jennifer is the mother of 7 year old Donnivin. Ever since his diagnosis at the age of 18 months she has been a fierce advocate for him. She is always looking for ways to help him excel and grow in all fields, which led her to meet Lizette Hernandez four years ago. On her journey advocating for her son, she has become knowledgeable in all things concerning Autism and related rsources. She now provides guidance to many people new to this journey. She loves interacting with the children and their parents and believes all children on the Autism Spectrum can succeed in all aspects which is why she is a tireless supporter and believer in what D3 Sports & Recreation Inc. is striving to accomplish.
Jennifer is always encouraging parents she meets at the various activities her son participates in to come out and see what D3 Sports & Recreation Inc. is about. she never takes no for an answer because there is nothing our kids cannot do if given the opportunity. She is extremely proud of the work that has been accomplished and looks forward to accomplishing more in the years ahead.
Shelinda Rodriguez | Treasurer
Shelinda a proud mother of 3 amazing children, Samantha, Taylor and her loving son & angel Robert who watches over them. Shelinda was introduced to the world of Autism by her friend and founder of D3 Sports & Recreation, Inc. 8 years ago. It was her exposure and knowledge of Autism that help her with her own journey. Since then she has been an active supporter and strong advocate for the Autism Community. She began organizing fundraisers to raise funds and awareness. As the events grew she was concerned about where the funds were being allocated, so along with Lizette and Felix Hernandez they founded the Bronxchester Challenger League.
As a Bronx native and fellow warrior mother, she hopes to bring her strong work ethic and passion to help oversee the organization and help it succeed.
Chaquon Polanco | Secretary
Chaquon is a proud wife to Carlos Polanco and mother to 4 children. Carlos and Lizette, D3 Sports CEO, are childhood friends. When he heard that she was looking for a place to bring baseball to kids on Autism Spectrum, he spoke to the Bronxchester Little League Board about bringing Lizette’s idea to Bronxchester. Because of her love for Donovan and the Hernandez family Chaquon has eagerly volunteered her services to the Annual Autistic Kids Rock event in whatever capacity she was needed.
When Chaquon’s youngest son was diagnosed with ASD, Lizette was a great source of knowledge and support about Autism services. Chaquon hopes to be the same source of support for other parents that have special needs children. She hopes to assist in fund raising efforts that will someday lead to a permanent facility for D3 Sports and Recreation Inc. where we can provide programs and services to children on the Autism Spectrum.
Lisa Quinones-Fontanez | Assistant Secretary
When Lisa’s son, Norrin, was diagnosed with autism in May 2008, she found herself in a world she did not understand. In 2010 Lisa founded the blog AutismWonderland, that chronicled her family journey with autism and shared local resources for children/families with special needs.
AutismWonderland became an award-winning blog and Lisa was recognized for her writing and her efforts to raise autism awareness within the Latino community.
While working full time, raising a child with autism and blogging, Lisa studied at The City College of New York and graduated with a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in May 2013.
Lisa’s story and her writing have been featured on several websites including Huffington Post Parents, Yahoo Shine and Parents.com. Lisa is a contributing writer at Latinamom.me and Babble.com.
In 2014, Lisa launched Atypical Familia: a continuation of AutismWonderland. Atypical Familia is a personal family blog for autism parents that focuses on autism, special needs travel, work/life balance, family entertainment and more.
Lisa is currently working on a memoir documenting her experience as an autism mom and navigating the special education system in The Bronx. She is also working on a historical fiction novel A Thousand Branches. A chapter excerpt – “The Last Time of Anything” – from A Thousand Branches received Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train’s Family Matters October 2010 competition. “The Last Time of Anything” has also been published in the Awards Issue/Fall 2012 in the Promethean (The Official Literary Journal of the City College of New York).
Carol Santiago-Dejesus was born in Puerto Rico and raised in the Bronx. After graduating from Columbia University where she majored in Political Science and Sociology, she began her career in community and nonprofit work. Carol is currently the Director of Workforce Development at a mid-sized East Harlem nonprofit where her primary focus is program development/supervision and contract/grant procurement.
Carol resides in the Bronx with her husband and two children- an 8-year old daughter and 14-year old son. Since being diagnosed with Autism at age four, her son has come a long way through both biomedical and educational intervention, but the family had to often travel out of borough and even out of state to procure the quality services that he needed since so few Autism resources were available in The Bronx when he was younger. Thankfully, more programs and services are currently available for children with Autism in The Bronx today, but still not nearly enough to meet the growing need.
Carol’s desire as a member of the D3 Sports & Recreation Inc. board is to assist the organization in developing the measurement strategies that will capture the true impact of their services in order to eventually access municipal and private funding streams in support of long-term growth. Carol also serves as the President and Chair of the Board of Trustees for the NYC Autism Charter School in Manhattan- the first and only charter school in the state dedicated solely to the education of students with moderate to severe Autism. The school has recently applied for another charter in order to opne a second school site in the Bronx.
Carol’s son has been participating in D3’s Bronxchester Challenger Baseball League since inception and it’s one of his favorite activities every spring because he can be himself, experience genuine pride, and learn to work as part of a team while having great fun!
Joseph R. Fontanez is a husband and a father to a son on the Autism Spectrum. Together with his wife, Lisa, they have been part advocates and part social workers for their son, Norrin. When Norrin was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum they both quickly realized how little they knew and how isolated they felt in respect to therapies and resources in The Bronx. Undaunted they both forged forward and did not let the lack of programs and services be a deterrent to providing Norrin with what they felt he deserved. As with most fathers with children on the spectrum he struggled with the diagnosis and with what the future held for his child. But ultimately came to grips with the fact that raising a child with Autism is not worse, it’s just different. And it’s that type of attitude that he brings to the Bronxchester Little League and D3 Sports. An eternal optimist with a love of sports he leapt at the chance to share that love with his son and also use that opportunity to raise awareness and provide an outlet for other parents to share in. The chance to help other parents struggling with the diagnosis and help them discover a place to just be “typical” is a vocation that he takes very seriously. Also being able to educate and inform other parents new to the diagnosis while at the same time helping them feel included is what fulfills him most.
Oliris S. Ramos born in Dominican Republic, raised in the Bronx, graduate of Lehman College with a double major in Sociology and Education, a minor in Special Education with a bilingual extension. Now residing in New Jersey, with a career, with a career in Non-Profit, currently as a District Executive with the Boy Scouts of America.
Her brother Giovanni is the inspiration behind her career choice(s) and other goals. He was diagnosed with every acronym under the Spectrum since he was 5 years old. This was in the mid 90’s before there were any tangible places, guidebooks or online resources to go to for help. Her mother Isabel, who is an awesome Warrior Mother has of course been his strongest supporter and advocate; with Oliris being his second. Since Oliris was old enough to truly understand, she had become involved in building awareness and supporting different organizations. It wasn’t until Oliris saw a flyer for the 2012 Autistic Kids Rock Karaoke Fundraiser, that she truly found an outlet that she had been looking for.
Oliris whole heartedly believes in the mission of D3 Sports & Recreation Inc.. She knows and understands the importance of preparation, hard work, applying oneself to endeavors with all that they are. Oliris is constantly working on achieving goals and believes that her dedication sets her apart from most. As a member of the board, she is thankful and ever so grateful for the opportunities to not only build awareness but to be able to support others.
Dalilah Smith-Santos is a proud wife and mom who developed a deep passion for charitable work and community development as a young participant of programs such as PAL, University Settlement, and NYC Big Brother Big Sister–this later led her to her former position of Administrative Assistant at a South Bronx teen program with a large non profit organization. For the last 5 years Dalilah has combined this passion with her administrative background and love for Donovan in her work with the Autistic Kids Rock Karoke Fundraiser and she is now excited to transition into her new role of Secretary with D3 Sports & Recreation Inc. Board of Directors.
Dalilah strongly believes that great things can come from investing in our community and our children, which is what makes her role at D3 so special and close to her heart.