Julie Riera Matsushima's life took a dramatic turn with the birth of twin granddaughters in 1997. Since accompanying her three-year-old handicapped granddaughter to Poland for cutting-edge cerebral palsy therapy, Julie has tirelessly advocated for children with special needs. In 2001 she established the nonprofit That's Amore Charitable Foundation Inc. to serve children with disabilities. Owner of an interior design and consulting business and a community leader, she serves as a parks commissioner for the City of San Jose Parks, Recreation, and Neighborhood Services Department, where she has raised awareness for the need of adaptive and equal park play equipment. She is also on the advisory board of the Office of Therapeutic Services for the City of San Jose, which serves the needs of disabled citizens in the community.
Julie is the recipient of the prestigious Santa Clara County Medici Medallion Award for her work to make public parks and playgrounds accessible to children with special needs. Metro Silicon Valley newspaper recognized her in their annual ''Profiles in Change,'' highlighting citizens making a difference, and she has been featured in the San Jose Business Journal, The Rosegarden, and Willow Glen Resident, and Image Magazine, among other local publications.
Julie lives in the heart of Silicon Valley with her husband, Mel, and their beloved dog, Griffith. She travels the 150-mile round trip to Modesto, California, regularly to visit with her grandchildren and participate in their activities. She is currently doing research for her second book.