Barbara Palilis received her Master of Arts in Communication Disorders from the University of Southern California in 1973. She has worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist in private practice, hospitals, clinics and in school districts where she remained for 25 years.
In 1999, Barbara created the first chapter of Circle of Friends (CoF), an inclusion program for youth with disabilities, at Santa Monica High School (Samohi) in California.
In 2005, having witnessed the success of CoF in increasing inclusion and decreasing bullying at Samohi, she founded the nonprofit organization Circle of Friends - The Path to Inclusion to train schools (grades 1-12 and colleges/universities) to create and maintain CoF programs on their campuses.
Barbara has dedicated her life to ensuring that “differently-abled” students are not only equipped with the social and language skills required to navigate the school years and beyond—but that they are welcomed and valued by peers.
Barbara has served as the Executive Director to Circle of Friends for the past 11 years, successfully creating hundreds of chapters across the country.
"Students with disabilities need to develop social skills for their future lives, jobs, relationships, and for independent living. We’re working with the next generation."
– Barbara Palilis, CoF Founder