Maria C. Palacio | Chairman
Maria Palacio-Pike (Mary) President and Director of community relations for Crystal Academy (CA) has been instrumental in the opening of opportunities for special needs children and their families in the Coral Gables area.
Mary was nominated in 2018 for the AXA Advisors Outstanding Educator Award. She currently serves as a Board member of the Coral Gables Advisory Board on Disability Affairs.
Under her tenure, Crystal Academy has been the recipient of various Proclamations from the City Of Coral Gables and the City of Miami. In 2016, Crystal Academy partnered with the City of Coral Gables Government in the production of the Emmy Award Winner for Best Documentary, Embracing Autism, A Coral Gables Story.
Mary created the very first Autism Awareness event in the City of Coral Gables at the Coral Gables Museum in 2018.
Subsequently, CA held the first ASD awareness resource events at the City of Miami, MRC Building, and Police Headquarters in April 2019.
Part of our mission at CA is to continue to form alliances with businesses to keep promoting community-based instruction opportunities increasing life and social opportunities/ skills. Crystal Academy has assisted the Coral Gables Youth Center with inclusion opportunities, training, and program development. CA has been the recipient of several grants from the Coral Gables Foundation and has been featured in Gables Living, the Coral Gables Magazine, the Mayor’s Report, and on many occasions in the Miami Herald.
Mary is also the Recipient of the 2020 Cruz-Whitehurst Advocacy Award from the University of Miami Center of Autism (UM-NSU CARD).