Welcome to the 2023 Annual APRIL Conference
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Interested in Sponsoring our 2024 Conference?
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Greetings from Brandon Brown, Executive Director
On behalf of the APRIL staff, I welcome you to our 29th Annual Conference in beautiful Orange County, California.
This year’s theme, The Magic of IL, is not only a cute reference to our proximity to Disneyland, but it’s a reflection of the work done every day in CILs and SILCs across our country that empowers people with disabilities to live independently. And as every good magician knows, there are many ingredients to conjuring a spell or potion. That’s what Independent Living is, too. Every step toward freedom is its own journey and each is equally important to living a life of our own choosing. So, bravo to all you sorcerers and apprentices for the talents you exhibit, the beauty you help to create, and the lives you forever change.
Our youth participants have chosen as their theme, HappILy Ever After. They know that Independent Living can be a happy experience; but like every fairy tale, there are often lessons to learn along the way. We’re excited to have these young leaders show us not only what our future can be but what are present is. For within every lion cub, there is a king or queen ready to lead if given the skills, resources, and opportunities they need to succeed. We need not wait until a crisis before our youth show us who they are. They are members of our pride and they deserve our respect now. So, to our youth I say, “be prepared for the chance of a lifetime.”
This year is also filled with many milestones. From the 50th anniversary of the Rehab Act to the 33rd for the ADA and the loss of a mother of our movement, Judy Heumann, we have much to honor and remember about our history. Yet, while we are grateful for the hard work that brought us to this point, we cannot forget that there is much left to be done. And we can’t wait for our “prince to come.” So, it’s “off to work we go!” For every celebration we hold, we need to be ready to hold leaders accountable for promises yet fulfilled. Our advocacy and activism are still important, and we cannot give up.
And as you enjoy your time with us, don’t forget to take in, “the colors of the wind.” We are a diverse bunch of folks who represent many different populations that intersect with our disabilities. These multi-identities are a strength and deserve attention. Remember to, “listen with your heart,” and know that every life experience is equally important, even when it isn’t your own. Include others who are different from you in your conversations and your work. Together, we all can march, “steady as the beating drum,” toward a more just and independent future.
Elissa, Mary, Sierra, Abby, Rachel, and I are excited for you to, “be our guest.” We sincerely hope that you find your experience meaningful. Of course, we couldn’t do our magic without the gracious support of our Board, sponsors, exhibitors, vendors, donors, and volunteers. They allow us to go from, “zero to hero.” And to our hosts in Orange County and the Hyatt Recency, thank you letting us be, ”part of your world.”
Greetings from Kim Gibson, APRIL Board President
Dear Independent Living Family and Friends,
On behalf of the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) Board of Directors, I welcome you to the 2023 Annual Conference celebrating “The Magic of IL.” This conference is the first APRIL in-person conference since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. We have taken precautions and ask that you support us in creating that environment using safeguards as appropriate during the event.
The Board of Directors has been very busy this year, and I want to show my appreciation and thank them for their hard work. You all are amazing! This year, the Board of Directors has taken an active role in planning for APRIL’s future with carefully thought-out strategic planning, searching for the new Executive Director, and updating financial, employment, and bylaws that support the organization. In addition, it is essential to ensure that advocacy and the IL community are at the forefront of the organization, and the Board of Directors did so by participating in meetings, leading committees, providing peer support, and sharing their work with others.
I want to express my gratitude to the recently, once again, retired interim Executive Director, Dan Kessler, who supported APRIL through the transition as we sought a new Executive Director. His dedication and support provided the leadership and equipped us to grow stronger and better.
Speaking of, I would like to welcome our new Executive Director, Brandon Brown. We are excited to have him as part of the APRIL team. We look forward to continuing to lead and build IL nationally and especially in Rural America. In addition, I express my sincere gratitude to the fantastic APRIL staff who continue to do the work behind the scenes with their dedication, grace, and expertise. APRIL is where it is because of their efforts and commitment to IL.
This conference, “The Magic of IL,” begins with all of you. Thank you to all the conference attendees for what you do in IL. You all are superstars! We are excited to have you join us at this conference so others can share the advancements, experiences, advocacy, and best practices to help support you in your work. There is much to be said about how magical peer support is, and with this conference, we hope that each of you engage each other and share ideas, successes, and failures so we all can learn.
To our sponsors-thank you! Thank you for believing in Independent Living and ensuring that disability justice is incorporated in all we do. Your support allows the work to be recognized, develop leaders, and revitalize our community.
Lastly, please consider joining APRIL as an individual and organizational member, if applicable, or renewing your membership. Encourage others to join. APRIL’s strength is built upon the membership and coming together to do the work.
We look forward to this time together, now and tomorrow. With gratitude, disABILITY pride, and excitement,
Kim Gibson, DSW, LMSW
APRIL Board President
A Special Thanks to Service Center for Independent Life in California for graciously donating COVID tests for APRIL Conference attendees.
Please note: some of the COVID tests have dates that are expired, however based on updated CDC guidelines, these tests are still good to use.
Thank you to our 2023 Conference Sponsors
Save the Date for the 2024 SILC Congress March 11-13, 2024
Special thanks to individual Conference Sponsors: Brandon Brown and Christine Griffin
Connect with us on Social Media!
During the duration of the Conference (October 12-14), make sure to tag our social media accounts and follow us.
We want to share in your excitement! You can click on the social media icons below to be taken straight to our social media. You can also copy and paste the social media handles and search our accounts that way.
@APRIL4ruralIL @RURALIL @aprilcommunication