APRIL Board of Directors
Please take a moment to get to know our wonderful board of directors. We appreciate your service!
Kimberly Tissot (she/her), ABLE SC, Columbia, SC
Kimberly Tissot has proudly served as the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Able SC since 2010. Under Kimberly's leadership, Able SC has experienced years of growth, success and has become a nationally recognized Center for Independent Living. She increased Able SC's annual budget from $500,000 to $7,000,000 to better meet the need of people with disabilities in South Carolina and beyond. Kimberly's road to disability at the young age of two, after having her leg amputated from rare childhood cancer, Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. Kimberly started to decide her style of mobility, becoming the first soccer player with a disability in her town, and speaking up anytime she was treated differently. Kimberly has over 20 years of experience advocating for disability rights and disability justice on a local, state, and federal level and even internationally! Kimberly holds a Bachelor of Science degree in human development from Boston University, Wheelock College of Education, and a Master of Social Work from the University of South Carolina. In 2017, Kimberly led the efforts to pass progressive legislation in South Carolina, the "Persons with Disabilities Right to Parent Act," and in 2018, the SC Employment First Initiative Act Study Committee. Kimberly mentors other Centers for Independent Living across the nation due to her marked success in the field. She also serves as an executive director mentor to other South Carolina nonprofit organizations via the state's nonprofit association.
Kimberly has served as a member-at-large on APRIL's board of directors since 2016 and is excited to step in the role of Board President. She believes APRIL is at an important stage in its development. Kimberly said, "We are in new times where Independent Living must be elevated on all levels. APRIL is well-positioned to further independent living as a disability-led national organization across the country. The APRIL staff and programs are growing, the board is engaged, we have new members, and APRIL's reputation is well respected. We must continue to remain unsatisfied with the status quo because independent Living must be fully supported and better recognized throughout the country. I'm excited to help make APRIL the most successful and sustainable organization possible."
Kim Gibson (she/her), disABILITY LINK, Tucker, GA
Kim grew up in Idaho and moved to Wyoming to go to college. She moved to Pennsylvania in 2011 and Texas in 2013. In August 2013, Kim accepted the position as Executive Director of disABILITY LINK and moved to Georgia. Before coming to disABILITY LINK, Kim was the Executive Director at two other Centers for Independent Living. She gained knowledge that she has brought with her to expand programs here with a focus on diversity and inclusion.
Kim has one son, Dustin and his fiance', Pushee, who she adores. Kim has a new service animal, Chipper, after the passing of her 12+ years with Charlie, who she loved and was grateful for the years of service to her. She has a Master's degree in Social work and is currently a candidate for her Doctorate Degree in Social Work. Kim is honored to have received the Neta Kolasa Scholarship, which recognizes her hard work and commitment to social justice and financially supports her continued education. Kim has worked with individuals with disabilities since 1988. She also has personal experiences with disabilities.
Kim was introduced to the Independent Living Philosophy when she worked for a nursing home where she met an IL Specialist who came to talk to residents. The IL philosophy intrigued her as she thought it was an incredible movement for individuals with disabilities. After learning the IL philosophy, she was hooked.
Kim believes in being involved in her community through boards, community involvement, providing educational opportunities to others, and advocacy. Kim has volunteered in several community events focusing on suicide prevention, women's rights, disability rights, and civil rights. She is a field instructor for individuals with and without disabilities pursuing their social work, educational, and occupational degrees. She dedicates her time to others' learning.
She has received many nominations and awards for her work with people with disabilities. She is the proudest of the 2014 National Council of Independent Living (NCIL) "Women's Caucus Hall of Fame Award," which she received because of the mentorship she has provided to other women in the world of disabilities. She serves on several local, regional, and national boards and committees throughout the state. Currently, she serves as the vice-chair of APRIL (Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living. She uplifts the organizations in policy, growth, and changes in both roles while putting first the Independent Living Community and philosophy. Through APRIL's peer-to-peer mentorship program, Kim is a peer mentor for other CILS (Centers for Independent Living). Kim is the past vice-chair of the Southeastern Center Directors Association and has served as a board member of NCIL (National Council of Independent Living), a board member of SILC of GA, and a variety of NCIL subcommittees. She also serves on several local boards and has, in the past, served on various advisory boards in Wyoming appointed by the Governor and boards in Pennsylvania.
She is active in the community, creating inclusive spaces, working with marginalized groups, and learning new things along the way.
Mellie Santora (she/her), Arizona SILC, Phoenix, AZ
Mellie Santora is committed to serving on the APRIL Board. She has the skills and dedication necessary to fulfill this role with integrity.
Mellie Santora is a seasoned professional, who has worked for Centers for Independent Living in three states. She is now a member of the Arizona Statewide Independent Living Council, following employment as the State Administrator there for several years. Mellie is highly regarded for pioneering strategic programs and initiatives and has decades of experience in developing youth leadership and engagement models that flourish. She has reliably served as an APRIL SILC to SILC mentor for several states and is grateful for the trust the membership has placed in her as Board Secretary. Mellie looks forward to supporting continued growth for APRIL, and to accomplishing goals set forth by the APRIL Board and Public Relations Development Committee, which she chairs.
Sidna Madden-Trimmell (she/her), SILC of Oklahoma, OKC, OK
Sidna Madden-Trimmell is the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Statewide Independent Living Council. She serves on many boards and commissions statewide that work on behalf of people with disabilities. Sidna is the Chair of the Oklahoma City Mayor’s Committee on Disability Concerns and is working to raise awareness to improve the quality of life and is advocating for the removal of physical and attitudinal barriers in her state. Through these efforts communities nationwide are using OKC as a model and asking for guidance to structure their communities. Sidna also serves at the Treasurer for APRIL and serves on the NASILC Executive Committee.
At-Large Executive Officer
Don Dew (he/him), Disabilities Resource center of Siouxland, Nebraska SILC, IA
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.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Seat
Dr. FranSha' Anderson (she/her), Arkansas SILC, AR
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are very important as it is related to pushing the disability platform. More importantly it is important for all marginalized groups. Her state is rural and she thinks it is important to educate on rural independent living and equitable services for all.
Dr. FranSha' Anderson is the current Executive Director for the Arkansas State Independent Living Council (AR SILC) located in Little Rock, Arkansas and has served as the ED for the past 10 years. She works diligently to promote independent living and equal access and inclusion for those that live with disabilities. She is also a part time adjunct professor at Webster University. She holds a Doctorate in Divinity. She is immediate past Regional Representative for National Council on Independent Living Executive Board, National Association of State Independent Living Council's Executive Board as Secretary, Co-Chair of NCIL's Civic Engagement and Voting Rights committee and on NCIL's Finance Committee.
She is the mother of two adult daughters 33 and 30 who are both deaf & one with multiple disabilities & two additional children ages 10 and 8. She is the "Gi-Gi" to her two grandsons who are 2 and 5 who are CODAs (Children of Deaf Adults). She has been a disability advocate for over 30 years in Arkansas.
Members At Large
Davina Patterson (she/her), Disability Resource Network, AL
Davina is passionate about advocating for people with disabilities to live independently. She has made an impact in the community by removing stigmas and barriers for people with disabilities and bringing disability awareness. She has experience in unserved and underserved areas.
Davina Patterson is the Executive Director of Disability Resource Network. She's a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a B.S. degree in Healthcare Management. Davina has been working in healthcare for over 15 years. Prior to her employment with Disability Resource Network, she served as Business Manager for a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). She's also worked at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, UAB Hospital, and the Birmingham VA Medical Center. She completed her management Internship at Children's Hospital of Alabama in Corporate Compliance.
She was featured in Rural Leader Magazine and named Small Town 100 Most Influential People, 256 Magazine as a 40 Faces Under 40 Honoree, and named Female Disruptor by Authority Magazine. Davina is a member of UAB's Women In Healthcare Leadership Executive Council, Disabilities Leadership Coalition of Alabama Board Member, City of Huntsville Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Advisory Committee.
Harry Bostic (he/him), Disability Network Southwest Michigan, MI
Harry “Hank” Bostic, MS, CRC, CRS-AD, is the Director of Programs and Services for Disability Network Southwest Michigan. During his tenure of over eight years at Disability Network he has worked as a Social Security Disability Benefits Counselor, Independent Living Specialist, Independent Living Program Manager and Veteran services provider.
He has a Master of Science degree from West Virginia University in Rehabilitation Counseling and Bachelor of Science degrees in Social Work and Business Administration. He is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and a Certified Community Resource Specialist.
Hank worked as a Rehabilitation Program Specialist, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and Disability Program Navigator for the state of West Virginia. This all comes after being totally disabled for eight years himself and learning the hardships and struggles many people with disabilities have to endure and overcome while living in rural southern West Virginia.
Lidia Fonseca (she/her), VAIL, TX
Lidia Fonseca is the Director of Programs at VAIL, a center for independent living in the South Texas region. Lidia has a bachelor's degree in Rehabilitative Services from the University of Texas Pan-American, a Master's in Rehabilitation Counseling from Texas Tech University, and a doctorates in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. She provides overall supervision, management, development, and implementation of programs at VAIL.
She has 10 years of experience in the disability field which include emergency management and planning for persons with disabilities, training on leadership, advocacy, and disability policy, and promoting employment services for all persons with disabilities. She is the current President of TEXCIL, a statewide association of centers for independent living that ensure statewide effectiveness of independent living services.
Misty Dion (she/her), Roads to Freedom Center for Independent Living, PA
Misty Dion is the proud CEO of the Roads to Freedom Center for Independent Living (RTFCIL) of North Central PA with over 17 years of experience advancing disability rights and justice on a local, state and national level. Under Misty's leadership, RTFCIL has become a nationally recognized CIL for its relentless opposition to guardianship, successful transition services and most recently, as the first CIL to provide emergency relocation services through FEMA.
Misty received her first Associate Degree in Human Services from Alfred State College of Technology in NY and later graduated Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0 GPA earning another Associates and a bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania College of Technology, an affiliate of Penn State University. Among her affiliations, Misty is an active Member of ADAPT, serves on the Advisory Board for the Mid Atlantic ADA Center, serves on NCIL subcommittees, is a PA SILC Board Member and the President of the Pennsylvania Council on Independent Living.
Stancil Tootle, Bainbridge Advocacy Individual Network (BAIN), Bainbridge, GA
My name is Stancil Tootle, and I am the board Vice President of Bainbridge Advocacy Independent network Center for Independent Living in Bainbridge, Georgia.
I believe in the power of informed choice, and I think that given the correct information we all know what is best for us as individuals. Ithink advocacy and information sharing go hand-in-hand to help improve one’s life and that’s what I see APRIL does a fantastic job of providing information and advocacy training. One of my passions is whole health well-being for me and my peers and I think that that is missing for people who live in a rural areas but it doesn’t have to be that way and I would like to help start some conversations and offering more whole health well-being options to people with disabilities like myself who choose to live in rural America. Look forward to meeting many of you and having information sharing Conversations. Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to be one of your trusted servants on this board,
Germán Parodi, Sponsored by Movimiento Para El Alcance De Vida Independiente (MAVI), San Juan, Puerto Rico
Germán Parodi, (he/él) alongside Shaylin Sluzalis, is a Co-Executive Director of The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster
Strategies - the only national disability-led organization with a focused mission on equity for people with disabilities and people with access and functional needs throughout all planning, programs, services and procedures before, during and after disasters and emergencies.
Germán’s involvement in disability rights and independent living began after he acquired his spinal cord injury in Puerto Rico in 2001, and relocated to Philadelphia in 2004 where he got involved with his local Center for Independent Living and Philly ADAPT. His involvement in disability inclusive emergency management began when he was part of a disability-led team, and one of the first notably disabled people to provide direct relief to other disabled people in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in 2017, and more recently in the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian in 2019. Since 2019, he along with his Co-Executive Director, Shaylin Sluzalis, have been leading the Partnership to further advance the rights and needs of people with disabilities before, during, and after disasters and emergencies across the US and around the world. Germán is currently a Board Member of the Liberty Home Choices, Secretary of Trach Mommas of Louisiana, and a co-chair of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Emergency Management Task Force. Germán is also active in global disability inclusive disaster risk reduction as the United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction Focal Point for Persons with Disabilities in the Américas. Germán is eager to bring his inclusive emergency management expertise and disability rights background to the APRIL Board.
Aerius Franklin (he/him), Inland Northwest Disability Experience out of Spokane, Spokane, Washington
Aerius has been a part of April since 2011 and started as a youth participant. He started with the Youth Steering Committee then to a member at large and eventually to a board member. While serving on the board he is a part of the Governance and Finance Committee and The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee. He currently works with the Inland Northwest Disability Experience out of Spokane, Washington as an Independent Living Specialist.
Scott Birkenbuel, Montana Independent Living Project (MILP), Bozeman, MT
Scott Birkenbuel is the Chief Executive Officer at Montana Independent Living Project. Scott Birkenbuel attended Montana State University-Bozeman.
Mels Felton, Disability Action Center NW (DAC NW), Moscow, ID
Mels Felton (they/them) is the Project Director of INDEx – the Inland Northwest Disability Experience, a project by the Disability Action Center N.W. Inc. They started in the IL movement in June of 2018 and soon became involved with APRIL as the chair of the Youth Steering Committee. In 2019, Mels was elected as a youth board seat and in 2021 was elected as an at large board seat. Their passion for Independent Living stems from the principals of disability justice and cross—movement organization.
Shelly Simmons (she/her), SILC GA, GA
Shelly graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a Bachelor’s in Interdisciplinary Studies/Communications. Upon graduation, she worked for a production house, but health challenges soon directed her to the local Vocational Rehabilitation office and down a different occupational path. Seeking additional services & resources, Shelly contacted her local Center for Independent Living (CIL). With the support of both entities, she began her career working in Independent Living (IL).
Shelly has worked as a Disability Navigator, Benefits Specialist and Client Assistant Program Coordinator in California. After relocating to Georgia, she continued working in IL and reached out to the Statewide Independent Living Council and served as board member, vice-chair and chair. In 2016, Shelly was appointed Executive Director of the SILCGA.
Shaylin Sluzalis (she/her), sponsored by Roads to Freedom CIL of North Central PA, Williamsport, PA
Shaylin Sluzalis (she/her) is one of the nation’s youngest Executive Directors starting at age 24, and has been a young leader in disability rights throughout her life. Shaylin, alongside Germán Parodi, is a Co-Executive Director of The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies - the only national disability-led organization with a focused mission on equity for people with disabilities and people with access and functional needs throughout all planning, programs, services and procedures before, during and after disasters and emergencies.
Shaylin grew up in rural Pennsylvania and now lives in Philadelphia, and is a life-long disability rights advocate, born and raised by the Independent Living movement. Shaylin has invisible disabilities, but she identifies most as being Brittani’s sister who lives with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities. Growing up equally alongside her sister led Shaylin to the path of disability rights advocacy starting from inside her home, seeing life through Brittani’s lense, and advocating with her for her equal inclusion and opportunities in all aspects of life.Shaylin spent most of her childhood volunteering and growing up at Roads To Freedom, Center for Independent Living of North Central PA, and gained employment there during her years in college where she held various positions. Shaylin is also a co-founder and leader with North Central PA ADAPT, a Board Member of Liberty Resources, Inc, and a co-chair of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Emergency Management Task Force.
Shaylin is passionate about ending the institutional bias and advocating for systems change that advance the rights and independence of disabled people across the nation. Her and Germán's journey in inclusive emergency management began in 2017 when they were deployed to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria as disabled first responders meeting the needs of disaster-impacted people with disabilities. Which now fuels their dedicated and focused work in inclusive emergency management and community resilience.Shaylin is eager to bring her inclusive emergency management expertise to the APRIL Board, and to empower and amplify youth leadership throughout APRIL activities.
Evan Shockley (he/him), Colorado Centers for Independent Living
Evan Shockley is a 29 year old multicultural male who is a native of Colorado and has lived with epilepsy since he was 15 years old. He has worked for two Colorado Centers for Independent Living as a Loan Closet Technician, Youth Program Coordinator and Independent Living Coordinator.
Evan was just recently elected as the Co-Chair of the Colorado Statewide Independent Living Council and will assume the role of the chair position in August of 2023. In concurrence with his council membership, Evan holds high involvement in planning his state’s Youth Leadership Forum as a staff member as he was also a delegate of the inaugural forum for Colorado in 2018.
Evan exemplifies charity, justice, brotherly love and fidelity from being a 4 year member, and an officer at his local Elk’s Lodge 804, in Fort Collins, CO.
If you need more information, please contact the APRIL office at 501-753-3400.