The Aurelia Foundation
The Aurelia Foundation was founded in 2010 by a group of parents, each of whom had a son or daughter with a moderate to severe developmental disability. These parents quickly learned that after years of being in a school setting, the next best step for their children often did not include a set schedule, an IEP plan, a group, and qualified support staff. The next best step wasn’t clear and there was the very real possibility their young adult child would sit at home, isolated, with no chance to continue to learn and grow. Each parent had a story of trying to find something for his or her son or daughter “to do,” somewhere “to be,” and friends “to be with.”
With a lack of adequate options, our founders created their own program, Creative Steps. Many young adults with developmental disorders have limited options for life after secondary school. Like all young adults, they want to have a life that includes community contact, hanging out with their friends, working on living skills and participating in activities that are meaningful, engaging and promote lifelong learning. They may want to find a job, but require support to learn vocational skills, as well as a job coach once they find employment.
The mission of the Aurelia Foundation, which sponsors the Creative Steps Adult Day program, is to establish individualized day programs for persons with moderate to severe disabilities as they leave the school system and enter community life. The Foundation was created specifically to work with state funding received by our clients, as government assistance is increasingly limited both in terms of funding and resources for community placements. With Creative Steps, we offer our clients a safe, supportive environment where they continue to grow and thrive and learn skills necessary for greater independence and community engagement.
To establish community-based, integrated, individualized adult day programs for persons with moderate to severe disabilities as they leave the school system and enter community life.
To focus on increasing awareness and modeling inclusiveness.
Every individual deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.
Every individual has the potential to learn throughout their lives and the opportunity to make choices is every individual’s fundamental right.
Every individual has strengths and gifts to contribute to their community.
Founders & Board Members
LISA SZILAGYI | FOUNDER & PROGRAM DIRECTOR
Lisa is a credentialed Special Education Teacher, who has worked primarily with teens and young adults with moderate to severe disabilities. She began her career in special education after the birth of her daughter, Emily who was born with a genetic disorder, Tuberous Sclerosis Complex. Lisa worked at Malibu High school for over 17 years, teaching the Life Skills class. In 2010, Lisa collaborated with a group of parents to found the Aurelia Foundation, with the goal of creating a quality Day program to serve the needs of adults with disabilities once they have left the school system. Lisa is also a co-Founder and co-Director of Hand in Hand, an after school social skills inclusion program at the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue. In 2011, Lisa was honored to be a recipient of The Malibu Times Citizens of the Year Dolphin Award, for her work with special needs students in the Malibu area.
TONY ELLROD | FOUNDER & BOARD MEMBER
Anthony “Tony” Ellrod is one of the founders of the Aurelia Foundation and currently sits on the Board and serves as General Counsel. He is a founding partner of the law firm Manning & Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester, and also serves as pro bono General Counsel for the Malibu Special Education Foundation.
Tony has two children with Linda Ellrod, Kristina and Alister, both of whom have significant special needs. Kristina, the eldest, is in the Aurelia Creative Steps program.
Tony is a 7th degree black belt in Yoshukai Karate is the Assistant West Coast Director of the World Yoshukai Karate Kobudo Organization. He currently teaches karate at both his law firm and at Gerry Black’s Martial Arts Center in Pacific Palisades. During his spare time he enjoys playing tennis and traveling.
MIKOL MCGILVRA | TREASURER
Mikol McGilvra is the proud mom of five beautiful children. She became empowered to advocate for change that positively impacts individuals with disabilities after her son was diagnosed with a cognitive disorder at the age of 3. In her quest to help James and others like him to live their 'best life', she stayed consistently involved in every step of James’ education by volunteering at the public schools that he and her other children attended. Mikol held several positions on PTA and PTO boards during her children's school years and joined the Aurelia family in the Fall of 2014. She currently serves as Treasurer on the Aurelia Foundation board. Mikol is originally from Peru but has made Los Angeles home.
KYM KARATH | FOUNDER & BOARD MEMBER
Kym Karath is an entertainment professional. She was born in Los Angeles and graduated from the Marlborough School and the University of Southern California. She is a co founder of the Aurelia Foundation, and thanks her beautiful son Eric who is the inspiration for her dedication to improving the lives of people with disabilities. He is the reason she “climbs every mountain”.
DOUG MASTERSON | FOUNDER, CEO & BOARD MEMBER
Doug Masterson was born in Washington, D.C. to two young students attending the University of Maryland. Doug attended the University of Southern California, where he would meet his eventual wife, Julie. After graduating from USC, Doug went to work with a transportation logistics company, Rock-It Cargo, that specializes in the concert touring industry, and stayed there off and on for close to 20 years, most notably as President and Chief Operating Officer from 1997 to 2000. Doug completed the Executive Program at UCLA’s Anderson School of Business and was also on the board of a few companies including Showpower, a portable power generation firm that provided temporary power to the live event industry and ultimately purchased by GE Energy.
After his involvement in Rock-It Cargo, Doug went on tour for the summer of 2007 as production director for the Jack FM/CBS Radio shows that encompassed close to 40 shows nationwide and headlined the talents of ZZ Top, The Pretenders, Don Henley, Stevie Nicks, The Stray Cats, REO Speedwagon and many others. Doug also ran the administration for the Academic Advantage, a company that provided tutoring to children through No Child Left Behind through contracts with school districts such as Los Angeles Unified and New York Unified, providing tutoring to close to 10,000 students yearly.
Much of Doug’s time over the last 10 years has been spent helping manage non-profits that surround his kids, most notably as Chairman of The Shark Fund, the fundraising arm for Malibu Middle and High School. But, it is with the organizations surrounding Jake’s world that Doug is most passionate about, including the Chromosome 18 Registry, an organization that does research and provides resources to those individuals, and their families, who are impacted by a Chromosome 18 abnormality, and The Aurelia Foundation.
Doug and his family moved to Malibu, in good part, for the schools, and largely for the Special Needs program run by Aurelia co-fouder, Lisa Szilagyi.
LINDA ELLROD | FOUNDER & SECRETARY
Linda Ellrod is one of the founders of the Aurelia Foundation and currently serves as Aurelia’s Secretary and Gala Chair. She was born in Bogota, Colombia and is the daughter of a Peruvian mother and an American father. She lived in several different countries growing up and traveled much of the world as a child. As a result, she enjoys traveling and visiting her family in Peru. She is fluent in Spanish. Prior to having children, she worked as an RN in Women’s Health Care.
Linda has two children, both with special needs. Her eldest, Kristina, is in the Creative Steps program. Kristina looks forward to her days at Creative Steps with tremendous excitement. She loves working out at the YMCA, visiting the Farmer’s Market in Santa Monica, and riding the Big Blue Bus and the Metro. She is very active and very much enjoys even the everyday activities that we all find mundane.
Linda is a 4th Degree Black Belt in Yoshukai Karate. In her spare time she enjoys swimming, tennis, karate, spinning and recently has been participating in triathlons.