State Rehabilitation Council Members

Helping Families. Supporting Communities. Empowering Individuals.

As of July 1, 2012, members of the State Rehabilitation Council include:

  1. Tony Arellano - Disability/Advocacy Group
  2. Juan Bernal - Disability/Advocacy Group
  3. Robert Gardner - Disability/Advocacy Group
  4. Laura Gallagher Watkin - Disability/Advocacy Group
  5. Beverly Hardnett-Young - Disability/Advocacy Group
  6. Rene Luna - Disability/Advocacy Group
  7. Greg Polman - Disability/Advocacy Group
  8. James Wilkerson - Disability/Advocacy Group
  9. Lena Barkley - Business, Industry, & Labor
  10. Pamela Creager - Business, Industry, & Labor
  11. Diane Crutcher - Business, Industry, & Labor
  12. Leanne Stavenger-Vos - Business, Industry, & Labor
  13. Marco Lenis - Community Rehabilitation Program
  14. Cathy Meadows - Client Assistance Program
  15. Rooshey Hasnain - Secondary or Higher Education
  16. Kathleen Oertle - Secondary or Higher Education
  17. Thomas Upton - Secondary or Higher Education
  18. Timothy Preston - Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor
  19. Janice Duvall - Current or Former Recipient of VR Services
  20. Michelle Phillips - Parent Training Information Center
  21. Susan Walter - State Board of Education
  22. William Sinwell - State Workforce Investment Board
  23. Camille Caffarelli - Blind Services Planning Council
  24. William Gorman - Statewide Independent Living Council
  25. Kristine A. Smith, Acting Director - Division of Rehabilitation Services

Tony Arellano - Disability/Advocacy Group

Tony worked for over 30 years at Common Wealth Edison in the Public Relations Department and retired in 1998. During that time, he was able to earn a Masters Degree in Education as well as a second Masters Degree in Special Education and began teaching in school District 86. Tony currently serves as a substitute teacher in Special Education.

Tony has been active in his community and been appointed to State Councils since Governor Thompson's administration. He has served as chairman of the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC), Will Grundy Independent Living Center, PARC Center, The Spanish Center, The Children's Home in Chicago, and Past Commander of American Legion Post 1080. Tony currently is chair of the city of Joliet Mayor's Advisory Committee on Disability Issues, serves on the County Veterans Assistance Committee, and works with members of the Hispanic population in Chicago with disabilities.

Juan Bernal - Disability/Advocacy Group

Juan has been the Supervisor for Workforce Development at Goodwill Industries on the Great Lakes Naval Base for more than 5 years. His duties include managing over 50 Deaf clients, advocating for employees with disabilities/compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and conducting quarterly training and orientation programs for new hires.

Juan is also a Deaf language mentor in the Professional Development of Sorenson Video Relay, working with trilingual interpreters to enhance American Sign Language (ASL), interpreting, and cultural communication skills. In addition, he presents Deaf and Interpreter workshops on topics including Interpreter Test-Prep, Mexican Sign Language (LSM), Team Interpreting with a Deaf Interpreter, and Latino and Cultural Issues.

Robert Gardner - Disability/Advocacy Group

Robert worked as a civilian engineer for the U.S. Army at Rock Island Arsenal in Rock Island, Illinois for 24 years before retiring in 2003. Despite losing his eyesight during that period, he advanced through the different levels of supervision and eventually became the Chief of Engineering in his office. Prior to his work at the Arsenal, Robert lived in California and was employed for several years in the aerospace industry and earned a Master of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University.

Robert is active within the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). He is president of his local chapter, and is 2nd Vice President on the state board of the NFB of Illinois. His other interests include travel, reading, and writing.

Laura Gallagher Watkin - Disability/Advocacy Group

Laura is a Senior Policy Analyst with Health & Disability Advocacy (HDA), a national non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of older adults and people with disabilities. Laura directs the Illinois Connections: Assisting Veterans & Military Families, which provides training, resource guides and fact sheets on the interaction of veteran benefits with civilian benefit programs, particularly disability. She has also created a state-wide task force for families of fallen service members called Illinois Connections for Families of the Fallen.

Prior to her work at HAD with veterans and their families, Laura's work focused primarily on public benefits and employment issues for people with disabilities, including training and counseling of 1,000's of individuals and service providers in 13 states. She created the first work incentives counseling program at the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) with a grant from Social Security and supervised the program for 6 years. Laura received her law degree and a certificate in public policy in 1998 and certification as a Benefits Specialist in 2001.

Beverly Hardnett-Young - Disability/Advocacy Group

Beverly began her career with the State in the field of vocational rehabilitation in 1972 and previously served within DRS as a Rehabilitation Counselor, Regional Strategic Planner, Rehabilitation Services Supervisor, and Assistant Bureau Chief. She retired from DRS in 2003 and continues to work part-time as a Support Advocate providing advocacy and support services to adults diagnosed with developmental disabilities and their families.

Beverly is actively involved in the Retired State Employees Association (RSEA), Illinois Council 31 - AFSCME, Illinois Democratic Women (IDW), Emily's List, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), and the Southern Illinois Alumni Association.

Rene Luna - Disability/Advocacy Group

Rene has worked at Access Living of Metro Chicago for 24 years and has been involved in most areas of programming during that time. He currently is the Employment Policy Specialist and has served as Education Advocacy Coordinator, Community and Economic Development Team Leader, Program Director, and Personal Assistant Coordinator.

In addition to his involvement in economic development, education, home care and employment issues; Rene has been active in immigration and transportation issues as well. He was instrumental in forming the grass-roots advocacy group Disabled Americans Want Work Now (DAWWN), and participated in demonstrations leading to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) installing lifts on buses.

Greg Polman - Disability/Advocacy Group

Greg is senior vice president/public policy and began his employment with The Chicago Lighthouse in 1983. He has managed over 14 programs, developed and implemented budgets and annual operational plans. Greg is skilled in grant writing, as well as implementing and negotiating contracts including city, state and federal contracts.

Greg has an extensive record of volunteer work and has been appointed to numerous boards and commissions including: Chicago Workforce Investment Board, ADA Suburban Para-transit Advisory Board, Blind Services Planning Council, Chicago-land Provider Leadership Network, and the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) to name a few. He is a graduate from Southern Illinois University, in Carbondale, IL with a Master of Arts in Rehabilitation Counseling, as well as a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology and Political Science from Southwestern Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minnesota.

James Wilkerson - Disability/Advocacy Group

Jim is the Director of Quality Management and Outcome Evaluation for the Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois (MHCCI), a not-for-profit organization in Springfield. An affiliate of Memorial Health System, MHCCI is one of the largest providers of behavioral healthcare in central Illinois. Jim co-chairs MHCCI's Grant Leadership Team, MHCCI's Safety Committee, MHCCI's Quality Council, and is responsible for developing and monitoring all organizational outcome measures to improve the quality of care.

Jim is a licensed clinical professional counselor and Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, and has worked at MHCCI in various roles since 1995 helping individuals with mental illness achieve their employment goals. He was a Job Coach and also served as Director of the West Lake Center, which provides recovery focused rehabilitation and employment development and support.

Lena Barkley - Business, Industry, & Labor

Lena has worked with CVS Caremark for over 15 years and currently serves as the Workforce Initiatives Manager for the Area 7 market which includes over 1,500 stores. She is also the Project Director for Career Prescriptions for Success (CAPS), an Apprenticeship and Incumbent Worker Program funded by The President's High Growth Job Training Initiative of the U.S Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. Lena previously served as Regional Learning Center (RLC) Manager, Training Store Manager, and won the company's highest award as a Store Manager - the Paragon Award for 2001.

In addition, she serves as a board member for Operation Able, Spectrum Services, an appointed member of the Detroit Workforce Development Board for the City of Detroit, and assists with State Director Janet Howard at the Office of Apprenticeship in Lansing, Michigan. Lena is actively involved with faith-based and community organizations as well and Continuing Education Programs for the company, and often acts as a spokesperson on behalf of CVS/Caremark. Lena enjoys public speaking, and has obtained her credential as a "Distinguished Toastmaster".

Pamela Creager - Business, Industry, & Labor

Pamela is Director of Human Resources at Peoria Production Shop (PPS), with responsibility for assuring compliance with Human Resource practices and assuring commitment to the PPS mission of hiring adults with disabilities. Prior to moving to Illinois in 1995, she lived in Boston, MA where she held human resource and management positions.

Pamela is an active volunteer in the Peoria community where she serves as the PARC Board Chair, Past President of Central Illinois Human Resource Council, Special Olympics Golf Coach, Illinois Imagines, CIBLN Past Chair, Camp Big Sky and many other agencies and events that serve the community. She is involved with DRS and the local schools in preparing students and adults with disabilities for the world of work. She has received several awards from the community for her service including 2011 Peoria Women in Leadership award.

Diane Crutcher - Business, Industry, & Labor

Diane Crutcher is the Vice-President of Programs for the Center for Performance Development, Inc. (C4PD), a management consulting firm started in 1996 providing education/training at all levels to all size businesses, HR services, strategic planning guidance/support, meeting facilitation, employee/customer surveys, and the National Customer Service Association. Prior to joining C4PD, Diane was the Director of Human Resources at BroMenn Healthcare in Normal, Illinois.

Diane has spent her adult life advocating on behalf of persons with disabilities after the birth of her second child who has Down Syndrome. She was the Executive Director of the National Down Syndrome Congress and served on many boards and consulting roles for the Federal Departments of Health and Human Services and Education as well as the White House, Social Security Administration and the National Institutes of Health. Diane has also served on numerous State of Illinois councils and committees related to services for persons with disabilities.

Leanne Stavenger-Vos - Business, Industry, & Labor

Leanne is Executive Director of Donka, Inc. and has served in this position for the past 15 years. She directs all phases of the organizations operations including administrative duties, overseeing instruction & curricula, fundraising & public relations, and acting as liaison among students, staff, Board members, the public, and the media.

Donka serves the community through education and awareness programs related to assistive technology and hiring individuals with disabilities. Staff host open houses and work with community employers to educate them about assistive technology, provide presentations to service organizations, and attend many disability fairs throughout the year. Donka works closely with local DRS offices, Centers for Independent Living, and Illinois Employment Training Centers.

Marco Lenis - Community Rehabilitation Program

Marco is President and CEO of Vocational Rehabilitation Management, Inc. (VRMI), an agency dedicated to facilitating opportunities for Latinos to improve their lives and their communities through education, employment, small business development, and leadership development. In partnership with local, state and federal agencies, Marco creates and manages programs to help Hispanics gain access to education, find jobs, create and grow businesses, and learn how to become more effective advocates for themselves, their families and their communities. In addition to helping people with language and cultural differences navigate their way in the United States, Marco works with people with disabilities to find jobs and help employers understand how to welcome the contributions of people with different backgrounds and abilities.

Marco is a passionate advocate for small business development and has advised more than 100 Hispanic small business owners in Illinois. He created and currently directs the NIU Latino Business Accelerator Program in partnership with the university's Regional Development Institute. In addition, he is an actively engaged community leader and serves on numerous boards of directors including: Swedish American Health System and Foundation, First Northern Credit Union and the Burpee Museum. Statewide, Marco is chairman of the Hispanic Advisory Council of the Illinois Department of Human Services/Division of Rehabilitation Services, a founding board member of the Illinois Association of Agencies and Community Organizations for Migrant Advocacy (IAACOMA), and a member of the IDPH Hospital Report Card & Consumer Guide to Health Care.

Cathy Meadows - Client Assistance Program

Cathy has been working with the Client Assistance Program (CAP) for 23 years; first as an advocate, and for the past 9 years as the manager. CAP's goal is to work with customers and with DRS staff to resolve problems at the lowest possible level. She is former DRS client, was involved with the Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois (CCDI) for 13 years, and is a founding board member of the center for independent living (SAIL) in Decatur. Cathy graduated from Western Illinois University with a degree in Business Administration.

Rooshey Hasnain - Secondary or Higher Education

Rooshey is a Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor with UIC's Asian American Studies Program, a LEND Faculty member, and Project Director of the Asians with Disabilities Outreach Project at the Center for Capacity Building on Minorities in Disabilities Research (CBMDR), part of the Department of Disability and Human Development (DHD) at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Her primary interest is in understanding the lives, challenges and strengths of people with disabilities, especially those from refugee and immigrant backgrounds, and developing innovative and culturally-relevant service models to address their needs. In more than 15 years of professional work in disability and rehabilitation, she has focused on finding ways to bridge the cross-cultural service gap between U.S. disability service systems and hard-to-reach individuals with disabilities and their families. She has worked on various systems change initiatives developing community-centered advocacy, leadership and research initiatives that relate to immigrants and refugees with disabilities and their families, communities, and systems.

Kathleen Oertle - Secondary or Higher Education

Kathleen "Kat" joined the University of Illinois Graduate College staff as the Visiting Research Scientist in 2011 after completing a post-doctoral experience with the Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL). Kat earned her doctoral degree in special education and M.S. in rehabilitation counseling with an emphasis on transition from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Kat is responsible for overseeing the creation and implementation of the Graduate College research agenda.

She has extensive experience as a teacher, coordinator, evaluator and researcher and has received a number of grants and awards for including the Council of Graduate Schools' 2012 Doctoral Initiative on Minority Attrition and Completion grant. Kat's research interests include access, equity, and opportunity for underrepresented groups especially for people with disabilities. More specifically, her work focuses on evaluating and improving education and transition outcomes, collaboratiing across systems, and promoting inclusion.

Thomas Upton - Secondary or Higher Education

Dr. Thomas D. Upton is faculty in the Rehabilitation Counselor Training Program at the Rehabilitation Institute, Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He earned his Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Counseling from The University of Iowa and has varied rehabilitation experiences. These include work in two comprehensive rehabilitation centers, as a senior state/federal vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselor, a private consultant for a VR firm, and as a brain injury consultant who designed, provided, and replicated innovative treatment programs to enhance the social skills and employment opportunities of adults with brain injury.

Dr. Upton actively mentors graduate students with disabilities and is involved in research projects with community agencies. In addition, he serves as an editorial consultant for the Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling and the Journal of Rehabilitation. His primary research interests include innovations in brain injury rehabilitation, rehabilitation counselor preparation, and disability attitudes.

Timothy Preston - Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

Tim is a Senior Rehabilitation Counselor (for the Deaf) in the Jacksonville office and began his career with DHS at the Illinois School for the Deaf (ISD) working with students who were Deaf and Hard of Hearing in assessing and developing transition plans. Prior to earning his Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, Tim was a case manager for persons with Chronic Mental Illness, an Outpatient Therapist, and managed a Psychiatric Consultant Program responsible for all crisis intervention and assessment at the local hospital emergency room and county jail.

Tim is actively involved in professional dog breeding/showing and judging. He and his wife operate under the name of Cobbercrest Australian Shepherds and have proudly bred, owned and shown many champions including Best in Specialty Show winners, Westminster Kennel Club winners and international champions. Tim was recently chosen to Judge the GOLD CUP held in the beautiful Aosta Valley of Italy.

Janice Duvall - Current or Former Recipient of VR Services

Janice is an Information and Referral Counselor with AbilityLinks is a nationwide web-based jobs board for job seekers with disabilities. She has over nine years experience as a Disability Employment Specialist and advocate in the disability community, serves as an educational consultant in church educational programs, and is a motivational speaker.

Janice earned her Bachelor Degree from Campbellsville University in Campbellsville, Kentucky and a Masters in Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, Texas. In addition, Janice has completed additional coursework at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Lombard, Illinois.

Michelle Phillips - Parent Training Information Center

Michelle is the Executive Director of the Family Resource Center on Disabilities (FRCD), a U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Parent Training and Information Center. Michelle has been training parents and professionals on the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) at FRCD for the past 7 years.

Michelle is member of the Special Education Committee of the Illinois Attorney General's Office, Department of Human Services Illinois Autism Task Force, Illinois Statewide Transition Committee, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Illinois Mental Health Conference for Northern Illinois, and Cook County Department of Public Health Special Needs Advisory Panel. In addition, she volunteers as an educational surrogate parent for the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

Susan Walter - State Board of Education

Susan is the Statewide Transition Consultant for the Illinois State Board of Education, Special Education Services Division. She has worked in this capacity since September, 2007. Prior to this position, she was the Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator for the Transition Outreach Training for Adult Living Project (TOTAL) and the Illinois Systems Change Transition Project; both of which were federal secondary transition grants administered by the Illinois State Board of Education.

Over the past 15 years, she has developed a variety of transition-related training materials including person-centered planning, self-determination, transition-focused IEP's and collaborative teaming and has traveled around the state to reach educators, parents, students and community providers. Susan has presented at numerous workshops and conferences at the local, regional and national level and has also authored or co-authored several articles focused on secondary transition.

William Sinwell - State Workforce Investment Board

Bill has been the Disability Services Specialist for the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) since 2004. Currently, he is the grant manager for the Disability Employment Initiative of which Illinois is just one of only nine first-round recipients of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) grant. The primary purpose of the award is to pilot five "promising practices" in two Local Workforce Investment Areas LWIAs).

As part of his DCEO responsibilities, Bill has written and co-written several grant proposals and was instrumental in developing the proposal that earned Disabilityworks DOL's New Freedom Initiative Award in 2006. In addition, he managed the Disability Program Navigator project, other disability-related grants funded by DCEO, and co-managed the administration of the final year of the Medicaid Infrastructure Grant (MIG) in Illinois. Prior to joining DCEO, Bill had nearly 30 years' administrative and managerial experience with providers of services to individuals with disabilities, both in the Chicago area as well as downstate.

Camille Caffarelli - Blind Services Planning Council

Camille is Executive Director and founder of Horizons for the Blind. She has worked with numerous organizations to promote accessibility for the blind and visually impaired including providing Braille and large print educational materials to the Botanic Gardens, Brookfield Zoo, Field Museum, Smithsonian Institute, NASA, and Hyatt Hotels. Horizons currently has over 50 employees, 60% of whom are blind or visually impaired, and produces approximately 30,000 statements monthly for utilities and banks in braille and large print.

She has been honored by numerous groups such as Lions International, Chicago Jaycees, City of Chicago Honor Roll of Handicapped Chicagoans and is the recipient of the Impressa Award from the Women's Division of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian-Americans. Camille is currently a member of the Advisory Committee of the Illinois Library Program for the Blind, is State Chair for the Blind Services Planning Council for Illinois and is one of the Chairs for the Braille Authority of North America.

William Gorman - Statewide Independent Living Council

Mr. Gorman is currently the Executive Director of the Statewide Independent Living Council of Illinois (SILC). He has over 38 years of experience in the field of disabilities including service provision, management, administration, advocacy and public policy. Past positions include Administrator of the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Brain Injury for the state of Iowa; Executive Director of the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Planning Council and Executive Director of Systems Unlimited, Inc. a large non-profit agency providing supported living, supported employment, respite, vocational, representative payee and child welfare services in 40 cities in eastern Iowa.

Mr. Gorman has provided technical assistance, consultation and training on organizational management and leadership, assistive technology, universal design, asset development/self-sufficiency strategies, total quality management and interagency collaboration in the states of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Utah.

Kristine A. Smith, Acting Director - Division of Rehabilitation Services

Kris is serving as the Department of Human Services, Division of Rehabilitation Services (DHS/DRS) Interim Director. Kris has been a devoted civil servant of the State of Illinois for the past 25 years and has previously served as the interim director and the associate director of DRS. She was selected as one of two individuals by the Illinois Vocational Rehabilitation Administration to participate in a two-year Academy for Executive Leadership and most recently has served as DRS' administrator of the Community Reintegration Program and also as administrator of the Vocational Rehabilitation support unit. Kris is a graduate of the Illinois State University with a Bachelor's in Education, specializing in Deafness/Hard of Hearing.