Maria E. Austin has been with NAV since February 1991. After representing Maria and her daughter in a lengthy special education battle with a local school district which was resolved in Federal Court, Valerie Vanaman recruited Maria to join the NAV support staff. Leaving the boring full-charge bookkeeper’s career behind, Maria became a valuable member of NAV and has been lovingly nick-named the “Queen of Crap” of the office and Valerie’s “right and left hand” assistant.
In January 2001, Maria became a Paralegal. She actually serves the office as a paralegal/parent advocate/legal assistant as well as one of the general “go to” persons. Maria has an adult daughter with special needs and has learned the special education system hands-on. Having gone through the system since 1985 and being under the tutelage of Valerie Vanaman, she brings to the office insight from a parent’s perspective. Because of this background she is able to counsel parents with compassion and not just legal terminology.
Aside from experience in and knowledge of special education, Maria has the qualities of a strong memory and awesome recall, ability to replicate and impersonate a variety of environmental sounds and noises, as well as having a great sense of humor. Leisure activities include being with family – playing with her 3 whippets, watching movies, dining, cooking and traveling- on the road, in the air, by motor home, plane, boat or train. Some day in the future she dreams of getting back to drawing and painting for relaxation and perhaps attend a culinary arts school just because she can.