Today we’d like to introduce you to Lenila Batali.
Lenila, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up in San Francisco, and after securing a degree in architecture from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, I practiced architecture and landscape architecture for 15 years designing upscale residences and developments for large companies like Disneyland. I then pursued designing large housing developments, state parks and private residences. Along with my love for design, it was the images found in anything tropical and ocean related that inspired me.
Because my husband and I had a child, Tiana- who was diagnosed with autism, I left the technical arts field in 2003 to start an online award winning tropical inspired watercolor stationery business, Designs by Lenila. It gave me a more flexible schedule to manage all the therapies for Tiana, spend time with our younger daughter, Serena, and maintain date nights with my husband of 27 years.
Having been labeled a “social butterfly” actively involved in local networking groups, special public events and creating public relations between business owners and the public, connecting people has always been one of my main strengths. I have had many successful experiences with the school system and San Diego Regional Center implementing special needs services for Tiana. I have also held several public speaking engagements, educating new teachers and parents about special needs students, and how to create a successful atmosphere in the classroom. I firmly believe in educating parents of special needs children about the resources that are available to them.
I decided to put my strengths to use and started a Support Group for special needs families through Jeremiah’s Ranch, our local nonprofit organization that support people with disabilities that I helped cofound.
We host dances, speakers, and socials. The smiles on our special needs students and their parents are priceless!
For the last 17 years, we have lived in Fallbrook on a 3-acre working avocado grove and vineyard, Batali Ranch.
I run the private-public partnership between our property and the local Fallbrook Union High School District. Sitting on a hilltop overlooking Bonsall, Batali Ranch is in its fourth year partnering with the district’s WorkAbility1 program to provide pre-employment skills, hands-on training, and transition planning for students with Individualized Education Plans and career interests in agriculture, art, and business. Student workers at Batali Ranch have academic support needs ranging from mild learning challenges to severe developmental disabilities.
Next year, I will open D’Vine Path, a full time adult day program for people with disabilities on the ranch.
Looking back at my life through all its trials and tribulations, I feel blessed that I get the chance to teach the population dear to my heart all the things I’ve learned and loved all my life; design, art and nature.
Has it been a smooth road?
My journey was not easy. It was always a challenge to balance work and family time, especially one child had special needs. I was further tested when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. I thank God every day for an incredible husband who supported me and took over everyday chores until I went into remission.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Today, I specialize in teaching and training people with disabilities in agriculture and the arts. I must be known in our city as the person to go to if you need guidance with a special needs child because I get regular phone calls or visits from strangers needing some help. I think what sets me apart is:
1. I am a parent of a child with a disability but this fact hasn’t defined our family relationships.
2. I was trained in design so I am a creative problem solver and think outside of the box.
3. I am a doer and I like to get things done.
I am most proud of our base company, Batali Ranch, getting an Employer Award for Excellence in Supporting Students with Disabilities from the North Coastal Consortium for Special Ed Community Advisory Committee.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Fallbrook is a great place to start a ranch based adult day program. I think it depends on what kind of program you want to do and how much space you need.
- Address: D’Vine Path & Batali Ranch
353 Morro Hills Road
Fallbrook, CA 92028
- Website: dvinepath.org
- Phone: 949-233-6515
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org