Making WAVES For Black History Month: Pamela Wiley, Ph.D

Pamela Wiley, Ph.D. is the President of the Los Angeles Speech and Language Therapy Center, Inc. and the founder of The Wiley Center, a 501 (c)(3) organization dedicated to providing direct services and support to children with autism spectrum disorders or other developmental disabilities. Dr. Wiley began her professional career with LAUSD and soon realized she wanted to do more and more importantly she wanted to do it her way. In 1979, she opened a speech therapy clinic dedicated to providing quality services to children and their families from underserved communities.

With the dramatic increase in autism, Dr. Wiley and her team of speech-language pathologists and infant development specialists continue to forge the way for thousands of families throughout L.A. County. Her centers located in Maywood, South Gate, Lawndale, Culver City, Los Angeles and Sherman Oaks provide comprehensive services to countless families regardless of income.

Most recently, Dr. Wiley has focused her attention on her young adults with autism and safety with law enforcement. Her center has recently partnered with Stan Campbell, a retired law enforcement officer and founder of D.O.P.E., De-Escalating Officer Patrol Encounters and Holly Robinson Peete to offer weekend long trainings for males 18 yrs. and older at a ranch in the Santa Clarita area. Her overall objective is to promote trust, greater awareness and positive dialogue to ensure the safety of all individuals with autism.

Darrell Brown, Senior Vice President of Retail Banking for U.S. Bank nominated Dr. Pamela Wiley to be part of this year’s Making Waves honorees. He met Dr. Wiley at the annual Thanksgiving Turkey dinner Giveaway created by one of our other honorees for this year, the late E.J. Jackson. Brown and Dr. Wiley were both volunteering for the event. Since then, U.S. Bank has worked with Dr. Wiley to help facilitate her many programs and initiatives in support of children with special needs.

Dr. Wiley was born in Illinois and moved to Los Angeles while she was still in high school. Her mother had a history of involvement in the Civil Rights Movement so Dr. Wiley grew up being aware of these issues.  It’s in her DNA to want to make a difference. She says that everything she does, goes back to her mother’s influence.

Dr. Wiley says that when she was a student at Jefferson High School, her teachers made a big difference and served as mentors. Later, the African American professor she had in speech pathology inspired her to pursue her career in the field.  Professor Weddington remains a good friend and one of Dr. Wiley’s board members.  She says that less than 2% of the nation’s speech pathologists are African American. After college, Dr. Wiley worked for LAUSD for five years before starting her own speech clinic in1979.

Once Dr. Wiley proved herself, her private practice took off and many doctors began to refer children to her program.  One of the most popular initiatives she created was her Grandparents Day Luncheon, which Dr. Wiley presented for 16 years, acknowledging grandparents who assisted in taking care of the children who benefited from her services. Recently she has been working closely with Holly Robinson Peete, whose autistic son is one of the children  Dr. Wiley has worked with for years. Dr. Wiley is also involved in programs to educate law enforcement professionals on how to interact with special needs people.

Dr. Wiley is very proud of her family.  Her oldest daughter is the Chief of Staff for Detroit Mayor Duggins and her youngest daughter is a bilingual speech pathologist who works with the Wiley Center. Dr. Wiley wants parents to know that there are services available to help autistic children and she has dedicated her life to helping them.

More from Pat Prescott
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