Born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, Iris Janette Soto was a three-year-old child when her parents migrated to the Bronx, N.Y. back in 1967. Her mother Carmen, a stay-at-home mom and her father Felipe, a construction worker, had strict and strong values. First and foremost, was to keep their children connected to their roots. By the time Iris was in the third grade, her parents enrolled her in the Bilingual program, giving Iris her first sense of cultural identity through language. She and her siblings were not allowed to speak the English language at home, keeping the merging of two cultures at bay. Growing up, Iris and her siblings were sent to la Isla Borinquen, to spend all summers with their grandmothers who left a beautiful cultural imprint in their hearts. The other, the importance for their children to attain an education. Raised in the Melrose projects in the Bronx, Iris became a first-generation College Graduate, earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Lehman College in the Bronx. A retired Nurse, she is now on her second wind and found alternative Well-being practices to continue her love for healing.
Iris is a graduate of Coaching for Transformation, a program accredited by the International Coaching Federation. Inspired by her own personal growth and E.P.I.C. Coaching Practice, she is a Certified second-degree Reiki and Sound Therapy Practitioner and Wedding Officiant. E.P.I.C., an acronym for Exceptional Person in Charge, is a movement whose mission is to create an open minded and inclusive culture where each individual is willing to explore what they ultimately will find in themselves. Iris supports her clients into shifting their lives to reflect their true Power, Creativity and Authenticity through her E.P.I.C. Beach Journey, Experiential Workshops and Retreats. As a Transformational Coach, she welcomes the opportunity to do what she loves most, to help folks use their experiences to heal, transform and connect with the magic of their essence and purpose.
Married to a former Police Officer and college sweetheart for thirty-eight years, Iris has always found inspiration in their two daughters. Her oldest, who uses a wheelchair due to Cerebral Palsy, was her motivation to start advocating for children with disabilities. Finding it difficult and complex to navigate through the educational system, she found herself in a constant struggle for her daughter to receive the services she needed and ward off ableism. Finding her own way to make a difference, Iris created The Iraida Rosa Abilities Awards in 2003. This award, constituted to give merit to disabled graduates who overcame adversity in order to succeed, has given recognition to over seventy students in two Bronx schools totaling over $18,000 in monetary gifts.
In 2013, Iris placed 1st as Mrs. Puerto Rico for the Bronx Puerto Rican Day Parade. It was her endeavor to become more connected with her roots and learn how to shake hands with politicians, organizers and media, in an effort to bring awareness concerning social issues especially that of the disabled community. She assembled members of the Parade court to join her Soldados de Iris, Iris’ Soldiers, in the Casa Ronald McDonald of San Juan, Puerto Rico where volunteers are of service to the needs of the house, the staff and the recipients. Bringing a different team each time she visits P.R., Iris has brought volunteers to the Ronald houses in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Florida. This to pay it forward and honor the helping hand she received when her daughter was once a recipient of the Ronald McDonald in N.Y. That same year, she joined the Polar Bear Plunge where she would jump into the icy cold waters of the Long Island sound to raise money for The Special Olympics. She is still a Polar Bear. In 2016, her YES YOU CAN GALA and proceeds from a book she co-authored with a women’s group, generated the monies for a $2,000 College Scholarship for a disabled student. In the past, Iris has held Forums for parents with disabled children to empower them and bring awareness of available resources and moral support.
On July 2, 2014, after a home fire that left Iris and her family displaced for nine-months, Iris experienced an awakening. With a profound sense of gratitude, she followed her calling to experience and explore other parts of the world and share gifts that benefited people in need. Staying 30 days at a time, Iris did work in Thailand, India, Peru, Colombia, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, where she taught English, Fundraising, Physical Therapy to Children with disabilities and so much more. She is excited to continue this work in South Africa next year.
When Puerto Rico was devastated by hurricane Maria in 2017, Iris answered the call to volunteer with All hands and hearts, a Disaster Relief non-profit, for 25 days helping build rooftops in Barranquitas, P.R. Soon after the home fire, she created The 10 for 40 Rice Challenge. A call to her social media friends to collect 10 lbs of rice to feed men, women, and children in soup kitchens for Thanksgiving. Each year feeding over eight thousand people within all the boroughs of N.Y.
She also helped produce a short film, 16B, for the Board of Education in a Bronx School, giving the students a creative space to encourage their dreams. Back in 2020 during the covid quarantine, Iris led a 30-day gratitude challenge online with over 40 people, helping them shift their focus and encourage them to cultivate a state of mindfulness and appreciation during a difficult time. Through her ordeal, Iris found her resilience in the service of others. She values the cycle of giving and receiving and believes that it is important to not only be grateful for our abundance, but to also recognize the integral role we play in the universe. Our gifts do not belong to us, they belong to the world.
Contact Information: E.P.I.C. Coaching