APRIL Logo with the words, "The United Voice  of Independent Living in Rural America."

APRIL Board of Directors

January 2023

Please take a moment to get to know our wonderful board of directors. We appreciate your service!


Executive Officers



Kim Gibson (she/her), disABILITY LINK, Tucker, GA

kim gibson caucasian woman with blonde hair up and smiling 





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 brought with her to expand programs here, focusing on diversity and inclusion.

Kim has one son, Dustin, and his fiancé, Pushee, whom she adores. Kim has a new service animal, Chipper, after the passing of her 12+ years with Charlie, whom she loved and was grateful for the years of service to her. She has a Doctorate in Social Work. Kim has worked with individuals with disabilities since 1988. She also has personal experience with disabilities.

Kim believes in being involved in her community through boards, community involvement, providing educational opportunities to others, and advocacy. She serves on several local, regional, and national boards and committees throughout the state. Currently, she serves as the president of APRIL (Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living).

Through APRIL’s peer-to-peer mentorship program, Kim is a peer mentor for other CILS (Centers for Independent Living). Kim has served in the past as the vice-chair of the Southeastern Center Directors Association, board member of NCIL (National Council of Independent Living), SILC of GA, and a variety of NCIL subcommittees. She currently 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. 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 is active in the community, creating inclusive spaces, working with marginalized groups, and learning new things along the way.



Vice President

Scott Birkenbuiel (he/him), Montana Independent Living Project (MILP), Bozeman, MT

Headshot of Scott Birkenbuel, a white man with salt and pepper hair and mustache.

Scott Birkenbuel is the Chief Executive Officer at Montana Independent Living Project. Scott Birkenbuel attended Montana State University-Bozeman.



Mellie Adu (she/they), Arizona SILC, Phoenix, AZ

Mellie Santora, she/her/hers fair skinned, short blondish brown hair wearing black jacket and black earrings in front of a map of Arizona counties.

Mellie Adu is committed to serving on the APRIL Board. She has the skills and dedication necessary to fulfill this role with integrity.

Mellie Adu 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

 Headshot of Sidna Trimmell. Sidna is a white woman with blue eyes and long shoulder-length blonde hair. She is sitting in a car with a red turtle neck on and sun glasses sitting on top of her head.

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 Dew, pronouns He, Him, Him The photo is of a middle age white male with short light brown hair. I am wearing glasses and have a grey dress shirt, black/grey tie and black vest.

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: Vacant



Members At Large

Joseph "Joe" Rogers (he/him), Panhandle ILC

Headshot of Joe. Joe is sitting in a black chair in front of a brick wall and plants are behind him. Joe is a white man with chin-length salt and pepper hair. He is wearing a button down white dress shirt with a yellow tie.

Joseph "Joe" Rogers of Amarillo is CEO of Panhandle Independent Living Center. He is a member of the Amarillo Commission on People with Disabilities.  Rogers received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Public Administration from Golden Gate University.



Davina Patterson (she/her), Disability Resource Network, AL

Pictured is an African American female with straight mid length black hair. Wearing a houndstooth grey and white blazer with a white blouse and white Pearl earrings and necklace.

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

Hank Bostic, a white man with black rimmed glasses and short salt and pepper hair and facial hair relaxing at home in southwest Michigan, Winter 2021

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

I have fair skin and I am a Hispanic Woman in her mid-30s. Wearing large black rim glasses and a green blouse with white flowers printed on it. My hair is brown, and it is straight and shoulder length. I have green eyes and I am wearing red lipstick. I am sitting in my office with a bookcase behind me. My preferred pronouns are She/Her/Hers.

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.



Stancil Tootle (he/him), Bainbridge Advocacy Individual Network (BAIN), Bainbridge, GA

Black Man smiling big with a magenta vest, long sleeved white shirt and a hat








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 (he/él), Sponsored by Movimiento Para El Alcance De Vida Independiente (MAVI), San Juan, Puerto Rico

Full front photo of Germán Parodi. A man sitting in his wheelchair with a slight grin and hands crossed on his lap. He has brown skin, and shoulder length curly dark brown hair. He is wearing a black long sleeve shirt that says “Our Homes Not Nursing Homes ADAPT ” on it and a gray zip-up sweater on top. Behind him appears a painting with multi-colored triangles.







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

 Selfie of Aerius, a Black man with a close cut buzz cut and wearing a button down shirt.

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.



Mels Felton (they/them), Disability Action Center NW (DAC NW), Moscow, ID

White non-binary person with curled blue hair and octagonal glasses. They have a service dog leash draped around their neck







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.



Kyle Kleist (he/him), CIL Western Wisconsin

 Headshot of Kyle Kleist, an older white gentleman with white hair and white goatee. He is waring glasses and a sweater.

Kyle Kleist is the Executive Director at the Center for Independent Living for Western Wisconsin (CILWW). As a person with a disability who uses a wheelchair, Kyle has over 20 years of experience working in Independent living. At the Center for Independent Living for Western Wisconsin, he has worked as the Peer Support Coordinator and Independent Living Specialist, conducted AT assessments, and helped to start the CILWW’s New Freedom Transportation Program. Kyle left CILWW in 2007 to teach for 10 years at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in the undergraduate Rehabilitation Services program. However, during that time remained connected to CILWW, serving on the Board for 6 years, the last three years as Board President. In 2017, Kyle returned to CILWW as Assistant Director, then as Executive Director in 2020. He has always been dedicated to the independent living philosophy of providing consumer-directed services and is a strong advocate for persons with disabilities.




Shelly Simmons (she/her), SILC GA, GA

Middle-aged, Black lady wearing a black and white blouse, short natural hair cut with silver hoop earrings. Pronouns are: she, her, hers.

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.



Youth Seats


Shaylin Sluzalis (she/her), sponsored by Roads to Freedom CIL of North Central PA, Williamsport, PA

 Shaylin Image Description: Headshot photo of Shaylin Sluzalis. A woman with light skin wearing a red long sleeve shirt with part of the word “ADAPT” appearing on the shirt. She has long brown curly hair and is smiling in the photo. Behind her appears a light blue and dark blue striped painting.








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.



Noah Russell, Sponsored by Space Coast Independent Living Center of Florida

Noah Russell headshot. Photo of Noah Russell, a young white man posing for a graduation photo in his black cap and gown.

Noah Russell (he/him) is a member of the Space Coast Independent Living Center. He holds 4 going on 5 black belts, is a supporter of United Way, a member of the Autistic Community, and is the Chair of the YSC (Youth Steering Committee). He is a dedicated to helping people all around by advocating for people in his community and in his state of Florida.  He is an RBT certified in the state of Florida and represents his community of Satellite Beach and Indian Harbor. He wants to make sure that all youth are able to make their voices heard and is honored to be apart of the movement.


If you need more information, please contact the APRIL office at 501-753-3400.

 Board Committee Structure