Image description: Bela stands outside Kasbah Aït Ben-Haddou, in the Ouarzazate province of Southern Morocco. She is a light-skinned Latina with short, black, curly hair, wearing a baggy pantsuit. She is surrounded by a clay wall and buildings, as well as palm tress.
Table of Contents
Who Is Bela?
Well met! I’m Bela Gaytan. My pronouns are she, her, and ella, but I am okay with any pronouns as long as they are used respectfully. I’m delighted to tell you a bit about myself so we can see what kind of awesomeness we can make happen!
Known for my authenticity, transparency, and vulnerability, I unapologetically disrupt spaces to create change. I leverage my lived experiences and intersectional identities as a neurodivergent, visually impaired, the child of field workers, first-generation college student, queer, and physically disabled Latina to educate others on DEIAB: diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging.
I always strive to leave a positive impact on all that I do. I place a high value on folks and organizations doing good and supporting others doing the same.
Identifying as a multipotentialite, I have many passions and I bring this uniqueness to all of my projects.
- As an Instructional Designer, I empower learners to succeed, producing inclusive and accessible learning solutions that are fun. (Yes, accessible content can be fun!)
- As a DEIAB practitioner, I am fearless in drawing attention to inequities and quick to provide inclusive remedies to provide a safe space for everyone.
- As a WordPress Web Developer building sites for myself and clients, I carefully transform the ordinary into something uniquely beautiful.
- As a community campaigner, I focus on building connections, strengthening community support systems, and fighting for social justice.
- As an advocate for disability and accessibility, I talk openly and unfiltered about my intersectional identities, tackling “taboo” topics, and leveraging the power of my lived experiences.
- As a Coach, I celebrate individuality, nurture a growth mindset, and empower my clients to realign with their intentions.
It took decades to finally realize where I wanted to be professionally, and personally, and to find my perfect environment where I can flourish, along with helping others.
I’ve worked in manufacturing (both in production and front-office roles), customer service, healthcare, human resources, and social services. I’m now working in instructional design/learning and development (L&D), as well as web development, human resource/L&D consulting, and DEIAB consulting.
I’m obsessed with learning and bettering myself in any way I can and you’ll always find me attempting to learn some new skill.
To see my full experience, please refer to my CV.
Instead of simply sharing text, I’m sharing my happy face as I achieved my goals of being a first-generation college graduate and the first in my immediate family to obtain a graduate degree!
Master of Education
Learning and Technology
Western Governors University
Bela is a light-skinned Latina with short, black, curly hair with a large, colorful dragon tattoo on her right arm. She is out in nature with a forest behind her. She is wearing a black, traditional, Mexican, short-sleeved dress with bright, multicolored flowers. She has a large gold piercing in her nose, with gold hoops and carved antler studs in her ears. She’s wearing a gold necklace with the birthstones of her and her children by Etsy, and another with a crescent moon and “chingona” (Spanish for a “badass woman”) by Chingona. She is smiling proudly and holding her framed Master’s degree.
As Seen In
Here are some of the places you can see me, hear me, and read about me. It’s your one-stop Bela Shop!
Articles & Online Mentions
- June 27, 2022: People to Follow for Learning About Accessibility and Disabilities and Accessible Design Resources by The Accessible & Inclusive Design Conference 2022 (AIDC22)
- June 27, 2022: Accessible Design: AIDC22 Recap by Kayleen Holt of Scissortail Creative Services
- October 2021: A Tour of the Church of St. Archangel Michael formerly the Carmelite Church by Dr. Jim McKinley Brown
- May 15, 2018: Cleveland Resident Wins Web Developer Scholarship Amid Multiple Sclerosis Scare by Chattanooga Times Free Press
I always bring my whole self to spaces. As such, I’d love for you to know more about me outside of my professional life.
Wherever I May Roam
I grew up in Southwestern Michigan and still hold up my hand to show which part of Michigan I am from. (If you’ve ever been a Michigander, you know what that means!) I currently live in Tennessee and have lived in New Mexico for a wee bit.
I am a nomad at heart and always looking for my next place to call home and my next adventure. Right now, the plan is to move to Atlanta, Georgia in 2023, and to get some more domestic and international traveling this year!
- I have explored eight countries (one for less than 24 hours, but hey – I think that still counts) on three continents, eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, and one disputed territory surrounded by hidden land mines.
- I was chosen to participate in Grow With Google’s Developer Challenge and went on as one of the top performers chosen to continue with their Front End Developer program. Google Developers even featured my story of perseverance on their blog!
- I am disabled, with several chronic and genetic conditions. Four of my conditions are rare disorders and I’m colorblind, as well, which is very rare for someone with 2 X chromosomes. I have quantifiable proof that I am rare!
- My father was a migrant worker and my mother’s family were sharecroppers. My parents grew up working in the fields, harder than most of us have ever had to work and for much less than we would ever accept.
- I’m a gamer! I mostly play World of Warcraft and Hearthstone these days. I also dig Portal & Portal 2. My kids are gamers, as well – especially my son. Our home is like an arcade with PS5, PS4, PS3, PS2, XBox 360, XBox One, and XBox Series S. My custom-built gaming computer is even named after one of my WoW characters. Very nerd, much pretty!
I have two amazing adult kids that mean the absolute world to me. I know everyone says that about their offspring, but mine are pretty rad! My daughter graduated has a Master of Fine Arts in Film and Television Studies from Boston University and lives in Los Angeles, working for a global entertainment, sports and lifestyle agency. My son is taking some time off from school to assess which careers he feels drawn to.
I also have two cats: Liylu and Ash-hole. You can imagine the looks I get when I say the latter cat’s name quickly. Bonus nerd points if you can figure out where the name Liylu comes from.