Welcome to the 2023 APRIL CONFERENCE 

General Session: National Updates


Session Overview:

 9:00 AM- 10:00 AM Grand Ballroom

Join APRIL’s Advocacy Chair, Don Dew, NCIL’s Policy Director, Jessica Podesva, NASILC’s Board Chair, FranSha’ Anderson, and APRIL’s Executive Director, Brandon Brown for a discussion of advocacy topics important to the IL community. Whether the 5 for 5 campaign, 504 regulations, APS rule setting, or infrastructure legislation, they all impact our IL work. The theme of this session is “the magic of collaboration and activation” to show the unity of the IL network and the importance of working together for common goals. We can make a difference!


Additional Materials for this Session:


About your Presenters: 


Don Dew (he/him)

Don has served 2 terms as a Member-at-Large he is very experienced regarding this role. Don has created a legacy of empowering underrepresented communities in his work, and he adds to that legacy in every aspect of his professional and personal life.

Don has been the Executive Director at Disabilities Resource Center of Siouxland in Sioux City, Iowa since 2012. Don is also concurrently the Executive Director of the Nebraska Statewide Independent Living Council. While it is unprecedented for someone to be in the role of Executive Director of a CIL and SILC simultaneously, the "out of the box" thinking that has culminated in this relationship is in line with, and strengthens Independent Living Philosophy, and the determination to equity and equality for all people with disabilities.


Jessica Podesva (she/her)

Jessica Podesva is currently the Director of Advocacy and Public Policy for the National Council on Independent Living. Prior to this role, Jessica worked at the Boston Center for Independent Living (BCIL) as a Senior Community Organizer and Policy Advocate working primarily on healthcare and transportation issues, including improving Massachusetts’s non-emergency medical transportation program and working with the state’s Medicaid agency to shorten the timelines for wheelchair repairs.

Prior to working at BCIL, Jessica worked as an Equal Justice Works Fellow at Greater Boston Legal Services, where she provided advocacy to ensure that people with disabilities had access to integrated and respectful healthcare in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Jessica has a Juris Doctor degree from New England Law Boston and a B.A. in Communications from SUNY Plattsburgh.

Brandon Brown (he/him)

Brandon Brown has been the Executive Director of APRIL since July 2023. Previously, he was the Executive Director of Empower Tennessee, a Center for Independent Living serving the Nashville area, for eight years. Brandon has also been a mental health counselor and program coordinator for Tennessee’s premier HIV/AIDS organization as well as a middle and high school teacher in Georgia and Alabama. His dedication to human services is born from his lived experience as someone with multiple invisible disabilities, including retinitis pigmentosa, borderline personality disorder, and autism spectrum disorder. He is a proud gay man who believes deeply in the value of diversity, equity, inclusion, and access, but also recognizes that he has much to learn about what this means in the lives of others. Brandon has presented at the local, regional, and national levels on such topics as ethical decision-making, counseling supervision, intersectional experiences, and the value of Independent Living. He and his son, Coy David, live, work, and play in Nashville.


FranSha' Anderson (she/her)

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