2022 Membership and Bios:
TYSON D. BEDFORD, Geneseo, IL
Tyson has been working with people in terms of the disability community ever since coming into high school, continuing his mission throughout those four years to then transfer his skills to college. After high school he attended the University of Iowa, and more specifically, its REACH program.
Going into college he continued his interest in helping those that are like him; people with developmental disability. He would be at the REACH program for two years, and in those two years, he received his first taste of being part of a team; called Access 2 Independence, that was dedicated to assisting those with a developmental disability. After completing college, he returned home where he continues to realize his goals.
He is a 2019 graduate of the Illinois Partners in Policymaking Program. He is currently a board member of two organizations that are dedicated to working towards his goals, those two organizations being the Illinois Association of Microboards and Cooperatives, and Quality Lives, Inc. He's even assisted in the formation of an activity group called Maple Leaf Friends whose objective is to allow people with developmental disabilities to be able to enjoy the opportunity of trying out different activities in their community.
MIKE BIBO, Galesburg, IL
Mike has been in the profession of long-term care for over forty-two (42) years, and he held an Illinois Nursing Home Administrator's license from 1979, until Nov. 2019. He is the Director of Public Policy for LTC Support Services, LLC, serving more than sixty-five (65) CILA's in Illinois; and more than seventy-five (75) community-based ICF/DD 16 person or less homes in Illinois, serving over 1,400 individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities.
He is currently the President of the Center for Developmental Disabilities and Community Supports (The Center). He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Health Care Associations.
He also currently serves on the IDPH LTC Advisory Board as the IHCA representative; on the IDPH DD Facility Advisory Board as The Center's representative; on the DHS/DDD Regulatory Advisory Board as The Center's representative.
KATHY CARMODY, Chicago, IL
Kathy Carmody is the CEO of the Institute on Public Policy for People with Disabilities. Kathy has over 35 years of experience in the Illinois and national I/DD arena, including directing and participating in the Taylor Institute studies, the SPICE Project, the Choice and Integration Project and the design of the CILA program in Illinois. Kathy has also served in direct support, clinical and executive management roles within community agencies. At the Institute, Kathy is involved in a wide array of policy and practice issues affecting people with I/DD and serves on and leads multiple committees and task forces impacting the I/DD service system.
Kathy co-chairs the ANCOR Alternate Payment Model (APM) workgroup, co-chairs the CQL/Mosaic/Institute workgroup on Building the Framework for I/DD Quality Measurement, partnered with CQL in carrying out HCBS training for stakeholders across Illinois and leads the Illinois state team in the Business Development Learning Collaborative (BDLC) as part of the NASUAD Business Acumen Center.
Kathy has a graduate degree in Social Service Administration and Policy from the University of Chicago and is a graduate of the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities at the University of Delaware.
SHAWNA EGAN, Cary, IL
Shawn is a parent and professional in the developmental disability world and has a 25 year old daughter who is a beneficiary of Home & Community Based Waiver program. She is the founder of the Children's Center for Autism - the first resource center, group home, and in-home support services agency in the county specializing in autism. She has held several leadership positions within DD focused health & human service agencies including: Early Intervention McHenry County, Little Friends, Inc., Pioneer Center, Little City Foundation, and currently Main Stay Therapeutic Farm. Shawna has developed an innovative group home model specifically designed to meet the unique needs of children diagnosed with autism and epilepsy. She has also created a legislative platform for Little City Foundation and created an online training for DHS-DD in the areas of Alternative and Augmentative Communication with Karrie Dean, and Trauma Informed Care with Krescene Beck.
JOE FERRARA, Chicago, IL
Joe Ferrara, Residential Administrator, has been one of four administrators at Misericordia since 2009. He oversees all 14 CILA homes (86 residents) and nine Village houses on campus (ICFs), home to 108 ambulatory adults in the moderate range of ability. Joe began as a direct service professional at Misericordia in 1999, and became a residential coordinator/QIDP in 2000 and a residential director of the then-six existing CILA homes in 2006. He has helped expand CILA services at Misericordia to now 14 CILA homes with another one opening later this year.
Joe initiated and developed the Misericordia CILA Resident Advisory Council, a self-advocacy group to assist residents in meeting their developmental goals. He launched Misericordia's formal Recycling Program, which he continues to be involved with. Joe was instrumental in opening three low census CILA homes, including a 4-bed home for men with Autism, a 7-bed, coed multi-unit building and a one-bed home for someone needing 24 hours support.
Joe received a Bachelor of Arts at Loyola University Chicago and is a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator. He is also the father of a son with special needs.
TIMOTHEUS GORDON, JR., Chicago, IL
Timotheus "T.J." Gordon, Jr. is a research assistant at the Institute for Disability and Human Development (IDHD) at the University of Illinois at Chicago. As a research assistant, he supports advocacy projects on disability pride in communities of color and providing resources to families of people with disabilities in marginalized communities in the Chicagoland area. In addition to his work as a research assistant, he is also an autistic self-advocate and creator of the Black Autist, a blog that centers on autism and disability acceptance in the African diaspora.
Gordon is a co-leader of the Chicagoland Disabled People of Color Coalition (Chicagoland DPOCC). Founded in 2018, members and allies in Chicagoland DPOCC promote disability acceptance and inclusion in marginalized communities throughout the Chicagoland area while also addressing barriers to disability acceptance and inclusion.
JJ HANLEY, Chicago, IL
JJ Hanley is Director of Illinois ABLE for the Illinois State Treasurer's office, which offers "A Better Life Experience" ABLE accounts to people with disabilities in Illinois and across the country. JJ would be applying to join the Committee as a representative of ISTO and the IL ABLE program. Her career evolved from financial securities trader to disability parent advocate when an individual in her family was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
JJ produced Refrigerator Mothers, a national PBS documentary on autism and founded jjslist.com, a yelp.com style, disability-awareness review website with a top-ranking disability blog. She launched a Disability Etiquette Training program for corporations that has trained more than 7,000 employees and a public transportation skills program that has trained thousands of high school and transition students in Chicagoland.
JJ co-chairs the Banking Committee of the Chicago Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities Financial Advisory Council for the Empowerment of People with Disabilities (FACED). She serves on the steering committee for Equip for Equality's Illinois ADA Project and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities.
DORIS HAYES, Peoria, IL
Doris Hayes has worked at EP!C, formerly PARC, for the last 23 years in many different capacities, currently the Chief Operating Officer. She was initially hired as a QIDP for a 56- bed ICF/DD facility. As a key member of the leadership team, Doris helps develop and implement strategic planning for the agency. She is the staff liaison to the Operating Committee of the Board of Directors. Many of the programs Doris started/developed at EP!C were based on outcomes presented by the people they serve. It is extremely important to her that every person reaches their individual goals and outcomes they set for themselves. Doris is a member of the Mayors Advisory Council for Citizens with Disabilities, former Chair of the Board for Camp Big Sky, and in 2014 was selected as one of the 25 women in leadership in the Tri-County area.
SHERRY HEALY, Naperville, IL
Sherry volunteers her time and expertise as Board President of Community Access Naperville, a local nonprofit providing individuals with limited communication and social skills an opportunity to volunteer in, contribute to and enjoy their community. In 2021, she launched CAN Consulting to facilitate increased community integration for individuals with I/DD in school, employment and recreation. She also serves as the Chairperson of the IDHS Autism Task Force Adult Services Subcommittee.
Sherry graduated from the Ohio State University with a Bachelor's degree in Human Resource Management. She worked as Human Resource Manager for NCR and AT&T Corporations for eight years, when her eldest son developed epilepsy and autism at the age of 2. Subsequent to his diagnosis, Ms. Healey transitioned to a career in special education and social services. She has worked as a Job Coach, Special Education Substitute Teacher, and Job Developer. She served as Employment Services Director with UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago, where she led a team of professionals to facilitate community employment for individuals with a variety of disabilities in the Chicagoland area. She was among the first in Illinois to be recognized as a Certified Employment Support Professional with the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE). As Statewide Employment First Manager, Illinois Department of Human Services, she worked to create systems change that resulted in increased community-based, integrated employment opportunities for individuals with significant disabilities.
KRISTEN HUFFMAN-GOTTSCHLING, Chicago, IL
Kristen Huffman-Gottschling has been Executive Director at PACTT Learning Center since 2013. She is responsible for the daily management of PACTT operations. In addition, she works closely with the Board of Directors to facilitate organizational growth and success, connecting people with autism to their communities.
Dr. Huffman-Gottschling also teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago as an Adjunct Faculty member in the Jane Addams College of Social Work, where she received her doctorate in 2016.
Before coming to PACTT, Dr. Huffman-Gottschling was Director of Horizons Clinic, a mental health clinic housed at World Relief Chicago. She holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan and is a licensed clinical social worker.
KIMBERLY L. JOHNSON, Chicago, IL
Kimberly Johnson is the proud mother of a young adult son who was diagnosed with PDD-NOS/ASD with speech and cognitive delay at age six and now a young adult, age 26. She has over 17 years of experience of advocacy and support to families within the disability community. Through advocacy for William, she has gained knowledge and skill sets as a disability/legislative advocate, due process and IEP liaison and is well versed in the Department of Human Services Waiver programs as it relates to options and the Ligas Consent Decree. Kimberly currently serves as the President, Board of Directors for Chicagoland Autism Connection Parent/Self-Advocate Support Group for over 8 years and a Board member for over 17 years. Professionally, Kimberly work for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) as a Parent Involvement Specialist since February 2018. This position works with families, schools, district staff and community partners to create, support and monitor accommodations and supports for diverse learner students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)and 504 plans.
DAWN LAMP, Harrisburg, IL
Dawn initially worked as a Behavior Therapist with at-risk families/youth and with adults/youth with Traumatic Brain Injury before coming to Coleman Tri-County Services in 1993. Since that time Dawn has worked/supervised DHS/DRS programs in the agency including CDS, Home Base SDA, Individual/Group Respite, Walgreens/St. Mary's projects, SEP, Sheltered Workshop, Placement, CILA, Birth-Three, and the Elderly Blind grant. Served as Licensed Nursing Home Administrator to facilitate downsizing a large ICF-ID into CILAs. Dawn has served as Human Rights Chairman for a Consortium Committee made up of 7 agencies and served on the Human Rights Authority - Southern Region. For the past several years her main focus has been to facilitate more community employment and acceptance into groups and clubs working towards workshop without walls while still offering choice to individuals/families. Through the Employment First grant Coleman placed 25 individuals into rural competitive employment and the agency learned so much from that experience. Coleman is currently implementing the Council's Southern Illinois transitions grant in 9 counties using best practices to inform youth/families about available resources and how to access them, including post-secondary options, self-advocacy skills, and problem solving issues like rural transportation, and making systems impacts through educating school personnel on available resources and best practices in job coaching for transition.
CRAIG LASKOWSKI, Waterloo, IL
As a human service professional with thirty 33 years of governmental and community-based agency experience, Craig has a strong knowledge of Medicaid, and Home and Community Based Medicaid Waiver programs and regulations for individuals with developmental disabilities. Craig is currently the Director of Quality and Training for Human Support Services in Waterloo, IL. He provides leadership, management and vision necessary to support Human Support Services' clinical and operational goals. Goals are to foster person centered services and supports in accordance with The Council on Quality and Leadership's Personal Outcome Measures: drive clinical excellence through evidenced based practices and the adoption of proven clinical models within the organization; ensure excellent customer service internally and externally; and to ensure the fiscal health of the organization. Since 2019 he has served as the President of the Southern Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities as well as a member of the Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services Facility Advisory Committee.
MERLIN LEHMAN, Bloomington, IL
Merlin Lehman is a retired casualty actuary and has a 46 year old son who has a severe developmental disability and currently lives at Mabley SODC. Merlin is a member and prior chair of the Community and Residential Services Authority, a board member of the Arc of Illinois, and an elder in his local church.
Prior activities include the North Central and Statewide Advisory Councils, the Council on DD, board member of CISA (an ISC Agency), member of the Quality Care Board (OIG), chair of the 2008 CILA Rates Committee, member of the 2014 CILA Rates Committee, member of the SB84 Taskforce, member of our local BroMenn Hospital Board, and participant on many short term work groups.
AMIE LULINSKI, Mokena, IL
Dr. Lulinski has worked with and for individuals who have IDD and their families since 1995 when she began her career as a Direct Support Professional in central Illinois after graduating from Illinois Wesleyan University with a BA in psychology. Since then, she has served in various roles in Illinois, Missouri, and the Washington, DC metropolitan area ranging from Individual Service Coordinator to Director of Research and Evaluation at The Arc of the United States. Amie is currently serving as the Executive Director of The Arc of Illinois. Previously, she served as Project Director for the State of the States in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Project at the University of Colorado. Amie was the 2011 Disability Policy Fellow at the Association of University Centers for Excellence and received her PhD in Disability Studies in 2014 from University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Disability and Human
SHEILA LULLO, Arlington Heights, IL
Sheila has 40 years of experience in supporting individuals with I/DD and has worked in services to children and adults in both day and residential services and supports throughout her career. She has held positions ranging from DSP to Executive Vice President (current role). In her current role, she oversees day and residential services to adults, afterschool services to children, Home Based services to children and adults, Community Employment, Small Business Development, Quality Assurance and Admissions. She also oversee several multi-organization collaborative projects including collaboration with local special recreation association to provide alternative day services; collaboration with 10 other organizations to enhance the leadership skills of management staff; collaboration with two providers of services to individuals with I/DD who follow Jewish practices to provide day and residential services to adults who follow these practices in their lives. Additionally, she chairs the Risk Management, Safety Committee and the Program Development Committee at Clearbrook. She has presented at IARF, NAQ, NASW, Rhett Syndrome and various other conferences on a variety of topics. She has served on the statewide Quality Committee for over 10 years as it went through a variety of iterations in focus and scope.
KIMBERLY MERCER-SCHLEIDER, Springfield, IL
Kimberly is currently the Executive Director of the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities. Prior to taking the role with the Council, Kimberly worked as the Transition Manager for the country's third largest school district, working to educate families and school administrators on best practice when bridging the gap between secondary and post-secondary settings. Prior to both of those roles, Kimberly started out as a teacher, but most importantly a family member of a person with I/DD. Kimberly has a passion for supporting systems change that results in individuals with disabilities having access to all facets of a full and engaged life of their choice. She has a background in Special Education, creating integrated housing models, person centered planning, and large system administration. Kimberly holds degrees in Special Education and Nonprofit Business Management.
LEANNE MULL, Decatur, IL
Leanne has been supporting people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to achieve their dreams since 1999. In her previous career as a corporate trainer and business manager Leanne hired someone who used a job coach and that experience completely changed the course of her life. She spent the next 15 years at a traditional agency in a variety of roles ranging from job coach to QIDP, Day Services Manager to Director of Employment and Advocacy, and everything in between. Leanne believes that the key to meaningful lives for people who receive services is to encourage, empower and enlighten the staff who work for them. As co-director of Blue Tower Solutions, Inc. Leanne fulfills that dream as a national speaker, writer and consultant improving organizations and systems supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and serving as Vice-President on the Board of the Arc of Illinois. Additionally, Leanne works as a Quality Enhancement Specialist for The Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL). Leanne holds a BA in Psychology and Master's in Healthcare Administration.
CARL NAVE, Decatur, IL
Carl is a founding member of the Empowerment Advocacy Group. Carl became a self-advocate during Illinois Voices where he spoke at state events, sat on committees, assisted with training and creation of materials. Most recently Carl spoke at Speak Up Speak out and co-presented at Millikin University to the helping professions class about working with people with disabilities. Carl is looking forward to starting Alliance Ambassador training and enjoys working on his laptop and is proud of the fact that he is a strong self-advocate who speaks up for himself and others.
SHELLEY PECK, Dwight, IL
Shelley is a parent of a school aged child living with developmental disabilities that also has complex medical needs. Her daughter is 17 and the family's focus is on transition planning into her adult years including not just her education, but also employment, housing, community and medical needs. She advocates with her and for her daily.
She is a graduate of Illinois Partners in Policymaking (1st Class) and her graduation requirement was to complete a project focusing on Advocacy. Upon graduating she founded The Dwight Parent Advocacy Group in her small rural community of Dwight. She and other parents/caregivers work together to make their community and schools more inclusive. There is also a focus on medical needs and how that affects the lives of the people living with disabilities.
She is the newly elected Co-President of Illinois TASH where she works alongside advocates and self-advocates to promote systems change at the local and state levels to develop inclusive communities for all.
JOHN PINGO, Rockton, IL
John Pingo is the CEO and Board Certified Behavior Analyst of the Goldie B. Floberg Center, a not-for-profit agency providing CILA and children's group home services in Winnebago County, Illinois. He started his career serving people with developmental disabilities over 20 years ago as a direct support professional. Over that time he has held roles in human resources, program administration and many others. During this time, John also earned his Ph.D. in behavior analysis and therapy from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. John has taught at the college and university level and was formerly an adjunct faculty member for both Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and Aurora University in their behavior analysis and therapy programs. John's professional passions are engineering positive workplace cultures, helping people served achieve empowered lives through applied behavior analysis, mindfulness applications for staff, developing techniques to combat cognitive biases, developing fun, engaging training, and making person-centeredness a reality for people served and staff members.
ERIC ROBKE, Breese, IL
Eric began working at Community Link as a DSP in 2000 and is now the Director of Day Program Services. Eric has a broad array of experience in residential, day and home-based services, serving in a variety of roles and capacities. He has a Bachelor of Arts from McKendree University.
MARY KAYE SPIDEL, Centralia, IL
Mary Kaye began working for Southern IL Case Coordination Services, Inc. in 1989. Mary Kaye worked as an ISC field staff until 1998. In 1998, she was promoted to Quality Assurance Coordinator and in 2021 she was appointed the Executive Director. Mary Kaye holds a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from McKendree University.
DEB STANLEY, Homewood, IL
Deb has more than 35 years of experience working with individuals with ID/DD. For the past 25 years she has been employed with the Independent Service Coordination Agency, Suburban Access, and is currently the Director of Program Operations.
MELANIE STITH, Belleville, IL
Melanie is a wife and mother of four children. She became an advocate due to the needs of her children with disabilities. Prior to becoming a full-time caregiver, she was employed as a Community Worker for Head Start where she assisted families with application processes, along with finding the proper supports based on their needs.
She has had the privilege of serving as a Board Member for both Family Matters, which is our state Parent Training and Information Center in Illinois, and The Arc of Illinois. She recently participated in the Partners in Policymaking program and as part of her service project decided to establish a Special Education Parent Teacher Association for the entire Southern region, where she now serves as President. As a parent of a child with a disability, she realizes the importance of advocacy in creating policy change and keeping legislators informed regarding the needs and concerns surrounding people with disabilities.
KAITLIN STOBER, Chicago, IL
Kaitlin Stober has worked as a Research Specialist within the Institute on Disability and Human Development at UIC since 2017. She contributes to a number of data driven projects including a systems impact review of the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities, a multi-state evaluation of future planning training for professionals, and a medical advocacy initiative for universities in Chicago and Southern Illinois. Prior to working at UIC, Kaitlin completed a master's degree in Disability Studies at Trinity College Dublin with a focus on community inclusion and research with the intellectual disability community. She also contributed to the UN Special Rapporteur on persons with disabilities' report on legal capacity for the 37th Human Rights Council. Kaitlin's professional pursuits are influenced by her family experience having a younger brother with Down syndrome. Kaitlin is an active member of the SIBS group in Illinois.
BEN STORTZ, Joliet, IL
Ben Stortz is the President/CEO of Cornerstone Services, a position he has held for the past 8 years. In Ben's 20 year career at Cornerstone has held multiple leadership positions at the non-for-profit Illinois social service agency. Having begun his professional career at Caterpillar in Joliet, Mr. Stortz joined Cornerstone in 2000 as the agency's Director of Finance and was promoted to Vice President/CFO in 2004. Two years later, his responsibilities increased as he became the Chief Administrative Officer. In his new role, Mr. Stortz was responsible for a major expansion of services as a result of securing new funding sources. Cornerstone has tripled in size since his arrival at the organization with a $34M budget, over 575 employees and serves over 1,200 people on a daily basis. Mr. Stortz earned his M.B.A. from DePaul University, and he received his undergraduate degree from Bradley University, graduating Summa Cum Laude.
PATTY WALTERS, Champaign, IL
Patty is the Executive Vice President of Clinical Services for DSC, which provides a full spectrum of supports with an emphasis on independence and person-centered planning to achieve positive outcomes for each person. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology from Illinois State University. She is skilled in coaching, conflict resolution, team building, and facilitation. She previously served on the DD Quality Committee and Chairperson for Team 5 - Monitoring and Quality for the Life Choices Initiative. Through QC and Life Choices, she has demonstrated her long-standing commitment to listening, learning and participating at the state level for the betterment/quality of life for people with I/DD and supporting the efforts of providers and ISCs across the state. She also represents the voices of those living in downstate/central Illinois.
LEA WHITNEY, Romeoville, IL
Lea is the caregiver and co-guardian to her sister who has a developmental disability. She understands the sibling and adult perspective especially as it pertains to the dissemination of information and resources. She is currently working on a web based application database to connect adults with disabilities and their families to employment resources and services in Illinois.
Before starting her project she joined the Board for Supporting Illinois Brothers & Sisters (S.I.B.S.) whose mission is to connect siblings with information, networking opportunities, and resources. During the COVID-19 Pandemic she started an Adult Sib2Sib Social Club that meets monthly and gives adults and siblings an opportunity to make friends, network, and share resources. Lea completed her degree in 2009 from Columbia College in Chicago.