State Rehabilitation Council Members

 As of August 2021, members of the State Rehabilitation Council include:

  1. Hershel Jackson - Disability/Advocacy Group
  2. Vacant - Disability/Advocacy Group*
  3. Katherine Blank - Disability/Advocacy Group
  4. Meg Cooch - Disability/Advocacy Group
  5. Vacant - Business, Industry, & Labor
  6. LaDonna Henson - Business, Industry, & Labor
  7. Melynda McKeever - Business, Industry, & Labor
  8. Vacant - Business, Industry, & Labor*
  9. Vacant - Community Rehabilitation Program*
  10. Vacant - Client Assistance Program*
  11. Robert Gould - Secondary or Higher Education
  12. Kelsey Thompson - Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor
  13. Matthew Fred - Current or Former Recipient of VR Services
  14. Debbie Einhorn - Parent Training Information Center
  15. Barbara Moore - State Board of Education
  16. David Friedman - State Workforce Innovation Board
  17. Daniel Hawkins - Blind Services Planning Council
  18. Shelly Richardson - Statewide Independent Living Council
  19. Rahnee Patrick, Director - Division of Rehabilitation Services

Hershel Jackson - Disability/Advocacy Group

Hershel is a Deaf Services Advocate with the Illinois-Iowa Center for Independent Living in Rock Island, IL. He works with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Individuals and the community in providing advocacy, peer counseling, information and referral, independent living skills training, transition services, and other services as well. Hershel serves on the Advisory Council of the Illinois Telecommunication Access Corporation (ITAC) and previously served as a Commissioner for the Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission.

Hershel was newly appointed by the Governor to serve on the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) and serves on several transition committees within Illinois & Iowa in planning and providing parent/teacher workshops and training, as well as educating students with disabilities to be more independent and advocating for their rights. He is fluent in two languages: English and American Sign Language; received a Bachelor of Science degree in Deaf Rehabilitation Counseling from Northern Illinois University and an Associate of Arts in Elementary Education from Black Hawk College in Moline, IL.

Vacant - Disability/Advocacy Group*

* Vacant replacement in progress.

Katherine Blank - Disability/Advocacy Group

Katie is the Manager of Youth and Employment at Access Living, a center for independent living located in Chicago. She holds a Masters in Social Work from University of Illinois at Chicago and a Master of Arts in Teaching in Early Childhood Education from National Louis University.

Katie began working for Access Living in 2009 as a Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Coordinator. Since then, she's worked as a MFP-CRP Transition Coordinator, Peer Supports Supervisor for Stepping Stones, and Coordinator completing Determination of Need assessments for people moving out of nursing facilities through the Colbert consent decree. In her current position she oversees youth programs that help educate students in Chicago Public Schools about employment, continuing education, independent living skills, mentorship, and disability awareness. Katie is very passionate about the independent living movement and providing opportunities for people with disabilities.

Meg Cooch - Disability/Advocacy Group 

Meg Cooch currently serves as Executive Director of the Arc of Illinois, following 20 years of nonprofit, policy, advocacy and organizing experience working with people with disabilities of all ages, families and community organizations. With the Arc, Meg works to ensure that people with disabilities can live full lives in the community.

Prior to moving to Chicago, Meg worked on federal level disability policy in Washington, DC and long term services and supports advocacy in San Francisco, CA. Meg has a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia and master's degree in public policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

Vacant - Business, Industry, & Labor

LaDonna Henson - Business, Industry, & Labor

LaDonna has worked in the rehabilitation field for over 20 years. She is currently the Director of the Evaluation and Developmental Center (EDC) for 4 years. EDC is a direct service component of the Rehabilitation Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. Prior to working at EDC, LaDonna worked for 20 years in St. Louis, MO in various capacities in the rehabilitation field.

LaDonna obtained her Master's Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from SIU in Carbondale in 1994 and is a licensed clinical professional counselor and a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor in Illinois. She is the Co-President of IL APSE and works on the regional WIOA planning team in Southern Illinois.

Melynda McKeever - Business, Industry, & Labor

Melynda is the Chief Operating Officer at Peoria Production Shop (PPS), with responsibility for providing leadership, management and vision necessary to ensure the company has proper controls and procedures in place for growth and financial strength while assuring commitment to the PPS mission of hiring adults with disabilities.

Melynda volunteers in the Peoria community where she serves as the Advocates for Access Board Vice President, Committee member for the Peoria Mayor's Advisory Committee for the Disabled, volunteer for Peoria District 150 Reading Buddies program, and past member of Chuck Weaver's Leaders Change Illinois. Melynda has achieved her Six Sigma Black Belt, a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management and recently completed her MBA. In 2015, Melynda was recognized as one of Peoria's 25 Women in Leadership for her commitment to the disability community.

Vacant - Business, Industry, & Labor*

* Vacant replacement in progress

Vacant - Community Rehabilitation Program*

* Vacant replacement in progress

Vacant - Client Assistance Program*

* Vacant replacement in progress.

Robert Gould - Secondary or Higher Education

Robert Gould currently serves as an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Disability and Human Development.

Mr. Gould holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Disability Studies and a Masters of Science (MS) in Disability and Human Development from U of I-Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Secondary Education and English from the College of Education, University of Iowa. He was appointed to the Council in July 2021.

He has presented numerous presentations and served as a guest lecturer for a variety of organizations. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Embrace Inclusive Employment, APSE, and serves as subcommittee member for the Illinois State Independent Living Council . He has also served as a peer reviewer for BMJ Open, the African Journal of Disability and Disability Studies Quarterly.

Kelsey Thompson - Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

Since 2011, Kelsey has been employed with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, working as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor in the Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) program at Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital. In this role, she supports disabled veterans in finding and keeping employment. In addition, Kelsey co-chairs the Hines EEO Special Emphasis Program for Individuals with Disabilities, which advocates for the hiring and advancement of individuals with disabilities in the federal service. Prior to joining VA, Kelsey worked for five years as a rehabilitation counselor at a large nonprofit organization serving individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

Kelsey has volunteered extensively with the National Organization for Albinism & Hypopigmentation (NOAH), previously serving for ten years on the Board of Directors and as editor of the organization's quarterly magazine. Through NOAH, Kelsey has presented at numerous national conferences on topics such as employment and social/emotional aspects of albinism, and has co-authored a book chapter on the subject.

Kelsey holds a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling from the Illinois Institute of Technology and a Master of Health Administration from the University of Scranton. Kelsey is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and a VHA Certified Mentor.

Matthew Fred - Current or Former Recipient of VR Services

Matthew works at the Southern Illinois Center for Independent Living (SICIL). He has seven 7 years of experience working with people disabilities as an Independent Living Specialist and 5 years as the PA Coordinator. He regularly works with Disabled Student Services counseling students as they transition from high school to college. Matthew received his Bachelor Degree in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy, and a Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

Debbie Einhorn - Parent Training Information Center

Deb has been an advocate for and with students with disabilities for the past 28 years as the Director of Family Support at Community Support Systems, supervising all of the Family Support programs. She has consulted with students and their families through Family Matters to obtain educational plans and services that build upon the strengths of students with disabilities and foster inclusive interactions. For more than 17 years, she has been the Executive Director of the federally funded Family Matters Parent Training and Information Center serving all of the state of Illinois, outside of the Chicago area.

Deb has a Bachelor's degree in Special Education and a Master's degree in Elementary Education, taught students with special education needs for 9 years, and operated a private pre-school for 3 years. She also spent 6 years as a Resident Services Director at a community residential facility for adults with disabilities. Deb acts as a special education surrogate parent for many students with disabilities in the child welfare system. She grew up having a brother and a parent with learning disabilities and has been the legal guardian for a young adult with developmental disabilities.

Barbara Moore - State Board of Education

Barb is the Director of the Special Education Services Department at the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and leads the department in fulfilling its regulatory requirement of providing general supervision of special education programming in Illinois school districts. Prior to joining ISBE, Barb worked for over 25 years in the public-school sector as a director of special education in an elementary district, a director in a special education cooperative, a principal of a public therapeutic day school, and a school psychologist. She has experiences with providing services and supports to students with disabilities from preschool through age 21, including providing supervision of post-secondary transition programming.

Barb has a Master's degree in Educational Organization and Leadership and a Specialist degree in School Psychology. She has an Illinois Professional Educator License endorsed for Director of Special Education, General Administration, and School Psychology. Throughout her career, Barb has provided professional development to school personnel on a variety of special education topics.

David Friedman - State Workforce Innovation Board

David is the founder and CEO of AutonomyWorks, an innovative social enterprise that employs adults with autism. AutonomyWorks partners with transition programs, community organizations, and DRS to identify, train, and hire appropriate candidates. Before founding AutonomyWorks, David spent 25 years in a series of executive positions in the marketing industry.

David has been a member of the Illinois Workforce Innovation Board since 2014. Currently, he leads the Technology Committee responsible for implementing the technology initiatives defined in the IWIB strategic plan.

David has four children. His son has a disability and has worked with DRS to find employment.

Daniel Hawkins - Blind Services Planning Council

Daniel is an Independent Skills Instructor for Blind & Deaf-Blind at LINC Inc. This is a Center for Independent Living in St. Clair County. Daniel does Independence Skills training for the OIB Older Blind Program for Seniors age 55 or older with Vision Loss. Primary skills include adaptive technology training and tactile sign language to communicate with Deaf-Blind individuals.

Daniel has been involved in Disability Advocacy and has been training others in Independence Skills Trainings since 2014. Since working with older Seniors, Daniel has made it a goal to find new ways to teach them technology training specific to their needs. He is also part of the (SWAG) South West Advocacy Group to bring Disability Awareness to the local community. With the struggles of being Deaf-Blind, he understands the issues involved. He tries to bridge the communication gap for Blind, Deaf, and Deaf-Blind individuals.

Shelly Richardson - Statewide Independent Living Council

Shelly became the executive director of SILC on March 1, 2017 and prior to that was employed at IMPACT CIL as their Community Reintegration Specialist-- now referred to as Transition Coordinator, for Money Follows the Person. She was also the CIL's Housing Specialist. While in this position she helped to forge a relationship with Madison County Housing Authority and was instrumental in a policy change which now recognizes preference points for those residing in nursing facilities.

Shelly completed her Masters of Public Administration and Policy Analysis degree in December of 2012. Within this program she completed specific course work in labor relations and contract negotiations, not for profit agency management, personnel management, budgeting, and public policy analysis. Shelly has a Bachelor Degree in Political Science with a Minor in Psychology.

Rahnee Patrick, Director - Division of Rehabilitation Services

Rahnee was recently appointed as the Director of the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) and began her duties on May 20, 2019. In her new role she will oversee the Bureau of Field Services for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR); the Bureau of Blind Services (BBS); the Home Services Program (HSP); the Bureau of Disability Determination Services (DDS); the Illinois School for the Deaf (ISD) and the Illinois School for Visually Impaired (ISVI), both of which are located in Jacksonville.

Prior to this, Rahnee was the Director of Independent Living at Access Living in Chicago and in 2008, the American Association of People with Disabilities recognized her as an emerging national leader. From the age of 22, Rahnee joined work on federal legislation to create an entitlement to home and community-based services for Americans with disabilities. She led the campaign to press Illinois to apply for Money Follows the Person in 2006 which increased revenue to the State and integrated disabled Illinoisans in the community. Rahnee has logged thousands of hours managing services for people deinstitutionalized from state-operated facilities and continues to oversee direct service delivery for over 1,500 Chicagoans with disabilities each year.

Her father is a retired comptroller for Peerless of America who met her Thai mother during the Viet Nam/American War. Rahnee and her husband Mike Ervin live in downtown Chicago with their two dogs, Rosita and Mister Bojangles.