The founder, Dr. Michelle Hernandez, the only LatinX disabled clinical psychologist, has over 20 years of experience in the diverse global field of humanistic psychology.
At the tender age of 3, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. She is the youngest of four children who was raised by a single Latina mother. Spending most of her youth at Children’s Hospital in Stanford taught her how to advocate, empower, and survive for herself. It became her vision early on that she change the world by giving kids who are suffering in the hospital an outlet to be ‘normal’. She embraces the meaning of treating each and every individual with respect, dignity, and compassion.
Dr. Hernandez has the uniqueness to captivate her audience by combining her vast amount of academic knowledge with real-life experiences. While focusing on the intersectionality of a myriad of factors, relevant connections are explored and openly discussed in a nonjudgemental manner. Dr. Hernandez brings laughter, insight, and an authentic perspective to all of her speaking engagements.
Dr. Michelle Hernandez has had, and continues to have, an exceptional academic career. It was her original dream to become a medical doctor and find the cure for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. However, after she gave birth to her first son at the age of 21, her disease came back with a vengeance. She was now faced with an accelerated, debilitating and chronic disability that would eventually put her back into a wheelchair. Dr. Hernandez states that this was like getting released from prison and being told that you were going to have to go back to a lifetime of confinement. Not giving up on her passion, she decided to become a different type of doctor, one that could help everyone with a disability. She decided to become a clinical psychologist and specialize in helping those with various disabilities. As a first generation college graduate, Dr. Hernandez learned how to become a successful student in college by making her own way and navigating through a system that she had no familiarity with to begin with. She transferred to the University of Davis where she received a bachelor's degree in psychology. This was followed by obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice Administration with a specialization in Law Enforcement. Her graduate career started at John F. Kennedy University where she earned a Masters of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology. In 2011, Dr. Hernandez graduated with a Doctorate of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University.
Dr. Michelle Hernandez is over the moon when it comes to her family. She is the daughter of a Mexican mother from East Los Angeles and a Puerto Rican father from the Bronx in New York. She humorously refers to herself as a “MexiRican.” Her childhood was spent in Children’s Hospital at Stanford where she underwent over 50 invasive medical procedures by the time she was 18. She is a mother of two amazing grown sons named James and Michael. This is a miracle in and of itself because according to the doctors she was ‘too disabled’ to have children. The doctors even asked her mother to allow them to sterilize her. The struggle of raising children when a parent has a disability is all too familiar to Dr. Hernandez. Through it all, Dr. Hernandez has remained positive, resilient, and compassionate. It is her dream to help others transform into their authentic selves and empower our society at large.
Dr. Michelle Hernandez has a wit, charm, and presence like no other. Her zest for life is contagious. Her diverse thirst for living has positioned her into the political arena as well. She has been an Ambassador for the World Institute on Disability where she recently came back from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in Washington DC where she was the representative for Latinx women with disabilities. She is a Commissioner for the Women and Girls Commission of Contra Costa County, a council member for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in San Francisco, CA. where she serves on the Public Advisory Council and the Equity and Access Subcommittee for the Association of Bay Area Governments. Dr. Hernandez has been an Ambassador for the Arthritis Foundation, and served for 6 years on the Mayor’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities in Oakland, California. In 2016, she was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Western USA. In 2018, she was named Ms. Wheelchair California. Most recently, she has joined Toastmasters International and is honing her public speaking skills to record a Ted Talk. She has collaborated with a colleague and written a children’s book about inclusion, friendship , and love, which will come out in the Fall of 2020. She travels throughout the United States presenting on numerous factors involved in disability studies, current events surrounding legislative issues within the disability community, along with appropriate inclusive psychological services, consultation at conferences, universities, colleges, and corporations. Her willingness to engage in a transparent manner while being open and honest regarding audience member’s questions and comments adds an authentic dimension to her expertise in the field of Clinical Psychology. One of her goals for 2020 is to write and perform slam poetry in Berkeley, CA. The professional services she provides training on include but are not limited to: consultation services, motivational speaking, psycho-educational counseling, curriculum development, advocacy, social justice, law and ethics, domestic violence, PTSD, ableism and disability issues, multiculturalism, and adjustment to disability. Her unique network of current resources and political involvement within the community gives her activism a refreshing dynamic.
For reference, see her resume below. Please feel free to contact Dr. Hernandez if you have an experience that you feel she would benefit from. She may respond with an affirmative answer and ask you for an interview.