We had the good fortune of connecting with Cori Marrero and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Cori, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
I have a 4 year old son who is nonverbal autistic and I know the challenges that come with being a mom with a special needs child. I’m also a Marine Corps veteran who is married to a disabled veteran and we have been fortunate to be a part of organizations that provide some amazing programs for disabled veterans that also focus on the entire family.

I had a moment of wishing that there was an organization that was similar for families that had someone diagnosed with autism. That’s when I decided that I could be that person to organize a nonprofit and include similar programs into our own organization and fill that gap.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
At 17 I graduated high school early, got a job, and moved into my own apartment. Shortly after that I asked my parents to sign the permission form to allow me to join the Marine Corps. They did, and I ended up spending my 18th birthday at bootcamp. I would also describe myself as very independent but my time in the military also taught me how to overcome extreme obstacles and it was a different kind of independence that I walked away with.

After I left the military I’ve held a couple different positions. I was an Assistant Manager at Walgreens and once I got my Associates Degree at the Academy of Art University of San Francisco I started my own photography and web design business. From there my entrepreneur spirit just became stronger but I took a step back as being a mom became at the forefront of my life. Did I mention I’m a mom of 7? Needless to say, it took up a lot of my time.

At no point did I think I would be a founder of a nonprofit. I will say I wish I had started it years prior! But it was just never something that crossed my mind until I started recognizing the need that needed to be filled. So many times when people are trying to start a business you will hear the advice of, find a need that needs to be filled and use that as your stepping stone. And it’s true! I was never really able to find that need that I was truly passionate about, until now, and I can say that having passion as part of your day to day work makes such a tremendous difference.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love to be outdoors! I grew up in the PNW and being outside is how I grew up so it’s were I prefer to be so I would hands down be going to Legacy West. Outdoor shopping AND a ton of amazing restaurants all in one spot. You also have Legacy Hall right there which is a lot of fun! One of my favorite things to do is to go there and get different items from all the different food stands, not to mention they have a great wine bar in there as well! On top of that, as if it couldn’t get better, there’s a great outdoor space where they have live bands that play. I’m not one who likes to deal with parking so having all the things in one spot is definitely a huge plus for me!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’ve always wanted to do something that would help others and make a meaningful impact on others. Growing up it was my grandma who taught me this and made a huge impact on my life. I was adopted into her family and from day one she treated me like I was always a part of her family. Her kindness was unmatched. She never had a mean word to say about anyone, she would drop everything to help someone, and she taught me so many skills growing up. She has since passed and I wish more than anything that she could be here to be a part of this.

Website: www.autism-foundation.org

Instagram: instagram.com/theautismfoundation

Facebook: Facebook.com/autismfdn

Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/autism-foundation-frisco?osq=autism+foundation

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.