2019 SILC Congress Conference Presenter Biographies
Amy Wink has worked for non-profits throughout her career, serving roles as fundraiser, columnist, event planner, blogger, and more. She lives with mental health disabilities and her 17-year-old only child, Jonah, has severe autism and glaucoma. These diagnoses impelled her to become an advocate for all individuals with disabilities. Amy has been NYSILC’s program coordinator since September 2016 and is a lifelong resident of New York State’s Capital District.
Ann McDaniel is the Executive Director of the West Virginia SILC and has worked in independent living since 1985, eleven years at a CIL followed by her current position. She has helped develop seven SPILs and a few SPIL amendments and has served as a peer mentor to 9 other SILCs. Ann has provided national, state, and regional training on the history and philosophy of independent living, the roles and functions of SILCs, SPIL development, strategic planning, measuring consumer satisfaction, the legislative process, advocacy, parliamentary procedure, the Rehabilitation Act, and a variety of other disability and independent living topics.
Billy Altom is the Executive Director of the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL). APRIL is a national membership organization dedicated to advancing the rights and responsibilities of people with disabilities living in rural America. APRIL provides leadership and resources on rural independent living through a national network of rural centers for independent living, statewide independent living councils, programs and individuals concerned with the unique aspect of rural independent living. The goal of APRIL is to work together to find solutions to common problems and to bring rural issues in independent living into focus on the national level.
Bob Williams joined ACL in January 2016 to serve as the Director of the Independent Living Administration.
Active in disability rights since high school, Williams came to Washington, DC to go to college and has lived and worked here for over three decades. Before this he served as the Senior Advisor to the Deputy Commissioner for Retirement and Disability Policy at the Social Security Administration. In that role, he led several interagency initiatives to create greater opportunities in career paths, employment, and economic mobility for people with significant disabilities. He continues to advance those goals here at ACL.
In earlier roles, Williams headed SSA’s Office of Employment Support Programs and has advised the Kaiser Foundation, the Commonwealth Fund, and other organizations on policy issues affecting the health, independence and economic well-being of people of all ages with disabilities. He also served as the Commissioner on Developmental Disabilities and then as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Disability, Aging and Long-term Care Policy at HHS. He also helped gain the passage of the ADA and to create community living services and supports to children and adults once consigned to Forest Haven, the District of Columbia’s institution for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Brad Williams has been the Executive Director of the New York SILC for the past twenty years. Previously, he ran a CIL in the Southern Adirondacks for a decade.
Brad helped to create the Statewide Systems Advocacy Network (SSAN) and directed it during its formative years. The network has a long legacy of systems change.
Brad has been a SILC Consultant with the SILC-Net and APRIL networks. He developed best practices related to different SPIL practices and presented or co-presented with peers on webinars and at conferences over the years on a variety of subjects.
Brooke Wilson is the Executive Director of the Utah SILC and has worked in the disability community for 15 years. She was elected Chair of SILC Congress two years ago, after serving two years as Vice Chair. Brooke is a board member of APRIL and serves on the NCIL Finance Committee and serves as Vice Chair for the Utah Legislative Coalition for People with Disabilities. Brooke and her husband Corey have 4 children and 1 grandson. Brooke loves children and is a “mom” to many.
Corrina H. Stiles, JD, PhD
Dr. Stiles has held professional positions in the disability community since graduating law school in 2000. She was the Advocacy Director at the Idaho Protection and Advocacy Agency from 2001-2012 then moved to WA DC to work as a Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist at the U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration. Dr. Stiles is currently the Director of the Office of Independent Living in the Administration for Community Living (ACL) and manages the independent living (IL) programs. Her most recent accomplishments include attaining her PhD in May 2018 from the University of Idaho after successfully defending her dissertation Second Life: Virtual World Case Studies Exploring Self-Determination of Adults with Developmental Disability. When not managing IL programs she likes to hit the open road and learn about the communities where IL services are provided. In 2018 that included riding just over 16,000 miles through 26 states.
Jeremy Morris is the Executive Director of the Ohio Statewide Independent Living Council. Before joining the SILC in 2017, Jeremy had spent almost 10 years working in Independent Living, previously serving as the Executive Director of the Access Center in Dayton, Ohio and Finance Coordinator at the Western Reserve ILC in Warren, Ohio. His background in Centers for Independent Living includes direct services, advocacy and community partnerships, and operations management. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Akron.
Jon Serrano is the newest member of the NYSILC team taking up the role of Administrative Assistant. In his first year Jon utilized his specialties in new media to maintain the NYSILC website, the LDCEP website, create marketing materials for both entities, edit and distribute the LDCEP Topic Talk podcast, and produce all video content for NYSILC. Jon is still new to the world of disability rights and advocacy but continues to learn and adapt to his role.
Julie Hocker joined ACL as the Commissioner of the Administration on Disabilities on October 1, 2018. Hocker brings to the role extensive experience in operational process improvement, risk management, and effectiveness assessment.
Ms. Hocker joins ACL from the Charles Koch Foundation, where she has served as a senior manager since 2016. In that role, she has led several key initiatives to improve the foundation’s operations, including development of an integrated technology and data solution for fundraising, grant-making and expenditures; redesigning process to improve investment tracking and enable better analysis of effectiveness; and creation and implementation of risk-management processes.
Previously, she served in a variety of roles with The Vanguard Group and as an analyst for the Administration for Children and Families. In addition, she has been a senior policy fellow for the Center for Human Dignity at the American Conservative Union Foundation since 2015.
Kathy Cooper is the Executive Director for the SILC of Kansas. She has a long history of IL and advocacy in KS and some of her previous positions include; The Coordinator for Capacity Building Initiative for KS Rehabilitation Services, the Director of Home and Community Based Services at Coalition for Independence, and the Legislative Advocate at Resource Center for Independent Living. She has a B.G.S. in Psychology from the University of Kansas. In her spare time Kathy enjoys competing at local rodeos in barrel racing.
Kelly Buckland is a person with a disability who has been actively involved in disability issues since 1979. Kelly started his career as an employee for Idaho’s Protection and Advocacy system. He served for over twenty years as the Executive Director of the Boise CIL, Living Independence Network Corp. and the Idaho State Independent Living Council. He has served on the Idaho Developmental Disabilities Council, the State Employment and Training Council, and the State Help America Vote Act Steering Committee. He has worked on issues affecting people with disabilities, including passage of the Personal Assistance Services Act and the Fathers and Mothers Independently Living with their Youth (FAMILY) Child Custody Laws.
In 1978, Kelly graduated from Boise State University with a B.A. in Social Work and in 1988 Summa Cum Laude from Drake University with a Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling. In recent years, Kelly has been honored with numerous state and national awards, including the University of Idaho President’s Medallion, the United Vision for Idaho Lifetime Achievement Award, the Hewlett-Packard Distinguished Achievement in Human Rights Award, and induction into the National Spinal Cord Injury Hall of Fame.
Kelly has testified before Congress several times on issues such as universal health care, Fair Housing and appropriations for centers for independent living. He has been closely involved with the direct-service and systemic change aspects of the Independent Living movement. Additionally, Kelly has a long history with the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL). He has served on numerous NCIL Legislative and Advocacy Subcommittees and other standing NCIL committees, the NCIL Governing Board since 1998, as NCIL Vice-President from 2001-2005, and as NCIL President from 2005 to 2009. Kelly is currently employed as the Executive Director of NCIL.
Marcie Roth is CEO of the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies, leading disability inclusive emergency management initiatives across the US and globally. Ms. Roth has been active in the independent living movement for 35 years and has led disability rights organizations since 1996. She has worked as an advocate for the Center for Independent Living of Southwestern CT, chaired the CT and Maryland SILCs and she was NCIL’s Director of Advocacy and Public Policy from 1999-2002.Appointed by President Obama to FEMA in 2009, she served for 7 years as Director of the FEMA Office of Disability Integration and Coordination. Ms. Roth is a Harvard Kennedy School Senior Executive Fellow with a BS in Public Safety Administration.
Melissa Ann Santora
For nearly 30 years Melissa Ann Santora has worked with youth who have disabilities and other diversities, and has a proven track record for creating, implementing, and expanding youth programs and projects. Under her direction, Arizona SILC has engaged a large number of youths in peer mentoring, training, and support, as well as self-and systems advocacy, by creating relevant opportunities for youth to engage in, contribute to, and enhance.
Paula McElwee is the Technical Assistance Coordinator for IL-NET and SILC Training and Technical Assistance projects at Independent Living Research Utilization (ILRU). In addition to providing individualized technical assistance, Paula moderates training calls monthly for new CIL Executive Directors and Program Managers, and SILCs, and quarterly for DSEs and for Financial Managers. Her blog, http://ilnet-ta.org/wp, is a repository of technical assistance questions and answers from CILs and SILCs. Paula was the first Director of LINK, Inc. in Kansas (one of the first states funded through the Rehabilitation Act) beginning in 1979. She worked in the disability field in Kansas for 25 years, and was appointed by two governors to serve three terms on the Statewide Independent Living Council of Kansas before moving to California in 2000. She has served on the board of Resources for Independence of the Central Valley and served as interim executive director for four other CILs in California, assisting the boards to transition to their next executive director.
Paula has provided training, facilitation and consultation with state associations, SILCs, and numerous centers throughout the country.
With a master’s degree in Public Administration from Grand Canyon University, and a bachelor’s in architecture from Arizona State University, Peter Fischer has been working toward accessible design for over two decades. He served on the Phoenix Mayor’s Commission on Disability Issues from 2006 to 2010, before becoming the City of Phoenix’s City-wide ADA coordinator. Peter oversees Phoenix’s ADA Compliance Program, where last year over 2,000 curb cuts were replaced. During his spare time, Peter owns his own business, volunteers with the Arthritis Foundation, and serves as chair of the Arizona Statewide Independent Living Council
Regina Blye is a dynamic “Advocrat” committed to high-impact systems change. She targets public policy reform aimed at improving the quality of life for people with disabilities; by removing barriers to education, employment, healthcare, transportation, and housing. Her advocacy was noticed, and President Barack Obama appointed Regina to serve on the United States Access Board for two terms. As a board member, she was responsible for the development of accessibility guidelines and standards for the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA).
Regina served Texas for 10 years as the Executive Director of the Texas State Independent Living Council. She also served on local and statewide boards that strive for people with disabilities to have full inclusion in everyday life activities, just like everybody else. Two years ago, she left Texas to work for ACL/ILA in Washington DC as a Project Officer (PO). She is currently responsible for the Independent Living Services program (SILCs, DSEs, and SPILs) and the Training and Technical Assistance Center (ILRU).
Regina Blye is a gun violence survivor, Zumba instructor, and Boccia (Ba-chee) club player.
Sara Ann Joehnk
Sara Ann Joehnk joined the Arizona Statewide Independent Living Council team in August 2017. As the Disability Integration Specialist, Sara Ann works with governmental agencies, nonprofits, and other partners to include individuals who have disabilities in all aspects of emergency preparedness. Sara Ann is an Arizona native and graduate of Arizona State University. A few months after college graduation, she developed a rare autoimmune disability and has spent the last eight years learning to live well and live independently. During her free time, Sara Ann advocates for voters’ rights, designs websites, and enjoys time with her pets.