State Rehabilitation Council Members

 As of July 2022, 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. Erin Compton - Disability/Advocacy Group
  5. Cindy Montgomery- Business, Industry, & Labor
  6. LaDonna Henson - Business, Industry, & Labor
  7. Timothy Engstrom- Business, Industry, & Labor
  8. Tracy Wright- Community Resource Provider
  9. Vacant- Community Resource Provider*
  10. Rachel Weisberg- Client Assistance Program
  11. Robert Gould - Secondary or Higher Education
  12. Kelsey Thompson - Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor
  13. Vacant - 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. Vacant- 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.

Erin Compton - Disability/Advocacy Group

Erin Compton is a junior in High School and attends classes through the IL Virtual School and Academy. She is a Special Olympics Athlete and Global Messenger. Erin is a dancer and has performed in the Joffrey Nutcracker, CounterBalance, and a production at The Plant in Chicago.

She plays hockey with the Chicago Blackhawks Special Hockey Program. Her work experience includes narrating the BEST training program developed by University of Illinois-Chicago. Erin enjoys being on the State Rehabilitation Council because it makes her feel like a leader and she wants to Speak Up and Speak Out for students with disabilities.

Cindy Montgomery- Business, Industry, & Labor

Cindy obtained her BA in Sociology from the University of Michigan and her MBA in Finance from DePaul University. She is the Co-Founder of TeachAbility, which aims to connect businesses to people with disabilities for high quality internships and jobs. They have worked with organizations like Essendant, Mass Mutual, the Chicago Dogs, a Chicago federal legislator, and the Chicago Rowing Foundation.

She is currently a subject matter expert for the Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center for Quality Employment, a consultant for TaTIO, a Women's Board member for the Children's Home & Aid Society of Illinois, an advisor for Global Strong, and a graduate of the Illinois Partners in Policymaking program.

She has two sons, one of whom is autistic. He is a fellow at the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy's CAPE-Youth program and is a student at the University of Kentucky.

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.

Timothy Engstrom- Business, Industry, & Labor

Tim Engstrom is Senior Vice President of Supply Chain for Essendant, based in Deerfield, Illinois. Engstrom is part of the executive leadership team responsible for supply chain management across 30+ distribution centers. Additionally, Engstrom is an Adjunct Professor at Elmhurst University where he extends the classroom with businesses and teaches courses in the Supply Chain Master's program.

Each year, in addition to teaching classes, Engstrom mentors a group of graduate students in implementing a Capstone project that analyzes and implements solutions to supply chain challenges for local businesses. It is here that the idea of creating a handbook for disability hiring was born; looking to solve staffing challenges as well as support a business's social responsibility program. The result was the creation of the H.O.P.E. Handbook - A Guide for Disability Hiring.

Prior to joining Essendant in 2019, Engstrom served as Head of Supply Chain at LA-CO Industries from 2016 to 2019, where he transformed the operation utilizing LEAN methodologies and won an award for implementing a disability hiring program. Before then, he was Group Vice President of US distribution for Walgreens from 2012 to 2016, Senior Director of operations for Lawson Products in Chicago, Ill. from 2010 to 2012 and Director of operations for OfficeMax in Itasca, Ill., where he also held other positions.

Engstrom received his master's in supply chain management from Elmhurst University in 2003 and his bachelor's in transportation & physical distribution from Western Illinois University in 1993. He was also selected as Distinguished Graduate Alumnus from Elmhurst University in 2019.

Tracy Wright- Community Resource Provider

Tracy has been employed by Gateway Services, Inc. in Princeton since September 1992. The organization provides a variety of supports to people with disabilities in Bureau, Marshall, and Putnam Counties. She has worked as an Employment Specialist, Job Developer, Case Coordinator, QIDP/Case Manager, Vice President of Community Services, and - for the past 5 years - has been CEO. Over the years, she has gained significant experience in working with people with disabilities and understanding policies and procedures, and she has maintained a strong interest in community employment.

Tracy has a bachelor of arts degree from Eastern Illinois University where she studied Psychology. She has served as a volunteer board member for the Human Rights Authority, Peoria region, for the past 5 years, and is currently Chairperson. Additionally, she serves on a local Emergency Food and Shelter Program board and the OSF St. Clare Medical Center Community Council. Tracy is the secretary for Rotary District 6420, as well as Princeton Rotary Club and is actively involved in the organization.

Vacant- Community Resource Provider*

* Vacant replacement in progress

Rachel Weisberg- Client Assistance Program

Rachel Weisberg is the Client Assistance Program (CAP) Director and a managing attorney with Equip for Equality (EFE), the Illinois protection and advocacy agency. Rachel has represented hundreds of clients in individual and systemic disability discrimination cases. Rachel has spearheaded several programs and litigation efforts, including the development of EFE's Employment Rights Helpline, which aims to expand employment opportunities by providing legal and practical advice to applicants and individuals with disabilities.

Rachel is a frequent trainer on the disability rights laws and speaks regularly at national conferences and webinars. Rachel teaches Disability Law as an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois Chicago. Prior to Equip for Equality, Rachel worked for the Illinois Attorney General's Office, Sidley Austin LLP, and clerked in the Northern District of Ohio. Rachel is a graduate of Northwestern University School of Law and the University of Michigan.

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.

Vacant - Current or Former Recipient of VR Services*

* Vacant replacement in progress.

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 Disability Workgroup as part of the Career Pathways for Targeted Populations Committee.

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

Vacant- Blind Services Planning Council*

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.