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

APRIL Board of Directors

January 2024

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 





Dr. Kim Gibson, a committed leader and advocate, brings over three decades of experience in advancing disability rights, fostering diversity, and championing inclusion. Her impactful contributions to the Independent Living (IL) movement have left a lasting impression on the communities she has served.

Originally hailing from Idaho, KIm embarked on her journey in disability advocacy in 1988. Her path led her through Wyoming, Pennsylvania, and Texas before she assumed the role of Executive Director at disABILITY LINK in Georgia in August 2013. Driven by a passion for the IL philosophy, she has dedicated her career to expanding programs that prioritize diversity and inclusion.

Kim holds a Doctorate and Master's degree in social work, a testament to her commitment to continuous learning and excellence. Her academic journey was marked by the prestigious Neta Kolasa Scholarship, recognizing her unwavering dedication to social justice.

As a devoted mother to her son, Dustin, and his wife, Pushee, Kim values family and the relationships that enrich her life. She recently welcomed a new service animal, Chipper, continuing her tradition of companionship after the passing of her cherished Charlie.

Throughout her career, Kim has been an ardent supporter of education, serving as a field instructor for individuals pursuing social work, educational, and occupational degrees. Her involvement in various community events, focused on suicide prevention, women's rights, disability rights, and civil rights, underscores her commitment to advocacy and societal improvement.

Kim has received numerous accolades, including the 2014 National Council of Independent Living (NCIL) "Women's Caucus Hall of Fame Award" and the 2023 Disability Inclusion Leadership Award from the National Diversity Council. Actively engaged in her community, Kim currently is serving as the President of APRIL (Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living), she continues to uplift organizations through policy advocacy, growth initiatives, and prioritizing 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.

Kim continues to work actively in the community, embodying the principles of the Independent Living Philosophy and tirelessly working towards a more inclusive and equitable society.



Vice President

Scott Birkenbuel (he/him), Ability Montana, Bozeman, MT

Photo of Scott Birkenbuel, a white man with salt and pepper mustache and hair. He is sitting with hands by his side in a relaxed position wearing a black short-sleeve collared shirt and jeans.

Scott Birkenbuel is the CEO of the Montana Independent Living Project which serves all persons with disabilities across southwest Montana.  Prior to this position Scott served on the Board of Directors for the Montana Independent Living Project, Chaired the Statewide Independent Living Council, Chaired the Vocational Rehabilitation Advisory Counsel, and sat on the Governors Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities.  He also held a seat on the Montana University System Board of Regents and had a 5-year tenure as an Adjunct Professor at Montana State University’s School of Business. After graduating from Montana State University, he started and ran his own small business and created jobs in Bozeman Montana for 24 years. 

Scott married his high school sweetheart, and they have two daughters and two grandchildren.  At home in Bozeman, he and his family enjoy Montana’s great outdoors - camping, hunting and angling.



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

 Photo of Sidna Madden, a white woman with blonde hair up in a pony tail. She is at a horse stable and is wearing sunglasses on her head and a jacket.

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:


Germán Parodi (he/él), Sponsored by Movimiento Para El Alcance De Vida Independiente (MAVI), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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.



Members At Large

Joseph "Joe" Rogers, 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

Headshot of Stancil Tootle, a Black man in a suit and tie wearing a hat cocked to the side. He has a mustache and glasses and is smiling while looking into the distance.

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,



Humberto "Bert" Rios (he/him), Services Maximizing Independent Living & Empowerment (SMILE), Yuma, Arizona

 A Hispanic male wearing a black t-shirt

Bert has been working for SMILE in Yuma Arizona since 2007. He started as a C.W.I.C. S.S.A. Benefits Coordinator and I.L.S. Specialist. In 2021 he became the SMILE CIL Director. Bert is a Service-connected Disabled Marine Corps Veteran who served for 15 years on active duty until he received a medical Honorable discharge in 1987. Bert is also a cancer survivor, who has been in remission since receiving a bone marrow transplant in 1994.



Angie Zimmerman, LINK, Inc., Hays, KS

 Black and white photo of Angie from the shoulders up. She is a white woman with shoulder-length hair who is smiling at the camera with her head tilted.

Angie has been with LINK, Inc. for a little more than 22 years. She has served many roles such as a Direct Support Worker, Independent Living Specialist, Information & Referral Specialist, Program Director and currently serves as CEO/Executive Director since 2015.

She has won Business Woman of the Year (2014). This was in recognition of Business Accomplishments, Leadership Qualities & Contributions to the Community through Hays Chamber of Commerce. She also won with LINK, the Helping Hands award (2020) is recognition of employee for Outstanding Work that improves the Quality of Life for Residents in the Hays area.

Angie was a member of Young Professionals as an Advisory Council for many years. She was a Leadership Hays graduate and facilitator. Angie served on the Statewide Independent Living Council of Kansas (SILCK) for two full terms with officer positions most years and membership committee for all of her years. She has been attending and waiting on State Rehabilitation Council of Kansas to have Governor appointment. (There has been a delay due to staff shortage.)

Angie has worked in conjure with a high school mentoring teenagers wanting to work with individuals with disabilities doing case management of sorts.

Angie went to school to become a nurse working in a nursing home, deciding it was not for her. She went back to school to receive her Bachelor's degree in Psychology and completed her Master's classes in Community Counseling. Angie is a person with multiple complex disabilities.

Over the years, Angie has been to the APRIL conference many times and her mentor who has since passed has served on the APRIL board since the beginning. Brian Atwell (mentor) has served multiple terms with different times throughout his twenty-five plus years at LINK. 



Hershel Jackson, Illinois/Iowa CIL, Rock Island, IL

Image of Herschel Jackson, a Black man wearing glasses and a plaid shirt sitting in a desk chair and smiling for the camera.

Hershel has been with IICIL for over 15 years. He is the Independent Living Advocate for Deaf Services and a member of the Direct Service Team. He is responsible for providing a number of services specifically to our Deaf and Hard of Hearing consumers such as Peer Counseling, Advocacy, Information and Referral, and Independent Living Skills Training. He works with Kathy Starling to provide Options Counseling, which is a program that assists consumers in planning their future Long-term care needs. Hershel participates in local TAB’s (Transition Advisory Boards) that address the needs of students with disabilities by providing parent/teacher workshops and other training. He advocates for students with disabilities, teaches them to be more independent and to advocate for their individual rights through the IEP process.

Hershel is fluent in both English and American Sign Language (ASL), and teaches basic ASL to community groups and individuals who have a hearing loss and want to learn the language. He is also a member of the Advisory Council for the Illinois Telecommunication Access Corporation (ITAC). His educational background includes an Associate's degree in Elementary Education, and a Bachelor's degree in Deaf Rehabilitation Counseling.



Evan Shockley, CO SILC, Denver, CO

Photo of Evan Shockley, a young multicultural man sitting in a brown recliner with multiple cats on his lap.

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.



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.





Brooke Wilson, Oregon SILC, Salem, OR

Headshot of Brooke Wilson, a white woman with long brown hair. She is wearing a flowered sleeveless top and sunglasses.

Brooke Wilson is the Executive Director of the Oregon State Independent Living Council (SILC) and has worked in the disability community for 18 years. She has served in many roles, representing the Independent Living Philosophy, fostering collaboration and advocating for disability inclusion and awareness. Brooke found Independent Living in 2009, while in Utah working as the state liaison for the Grassroots Advocacy Partnership (GAP). She served as the Executive Director of the Utah SILC before relocating to Oregon in 2019. Brooke is passionate about many issues including, youth involvement/engagement, mental health, and legislative advocacy.

She was first elected to the APRIL board as an at large member in 2017 and served as the SILC representative from 2019-2022.

Brooke and her husband Corey have 4 children and 3 grandchildren, though Brooke loves children and is a “mom” to many.



Youth Seats



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.


Jordan Hayes (she/her), Disability Rights & Resources, Charlotte, NC

Photo of Jordan Hayes, a white woman with blonde hair and bangs. She is wearing glasses and a dark long-sleeve sweater.

Jordan Hayes (she, her) is a 27 year old woman from the Carolinas who found the independent living movement later in youth. She graduated from Winthrop University with a bachelor’s in social work and began working as a Peer Mentor for Disability Rights & Resources and has dedicated herself to learning all she can about the movement. Serving on the board as a youth member would give her the opportunity to work towards other young folks finding their place in IL sooner rather than later.


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

 Board Committee Structure