APRIL Board of Directors
Please take a moment to get to know our wonderful board of directors. We appreciate your service!
Kimberly Tissot, 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, disABILITY LINK, Tucker, GA
Kim Gibson is the executive director of Disability Action Center of Georgia, Inc., dba disABILITY LINK. disABILITY LINK is located in Tucker, GA and serves the 12 counties of Metro Atlanta.
Kim has a son, Dustin, whom she adores, his partner, Bilphena, and her service animal, Charlie, who brings her much joy. She has a Master's degree in Social work and is currently completing her Doctorate Degree in Social Work. Kim is honored to have received the Neta Kolasa Scholarship that 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 who have a disability to live in their communities independently. 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 that focus 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 degrees, educational degrees, and occupational degrees. She dedicates her time towards others learning.
She has received many nominations and awards for her work with people with disabilities. The one that she is the proudest of is; 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 boards and committees throughout the state, locally, regionally, and nationally. Currently, she serves as a board member for SILC of GA as the CIL representative and 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. She also is a peer mentor for other CILS (Centers for Independent Living) through APRIL's peer-to-peer mentorship program. 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) and a variety of NCIL subcommittees. She also serves on several local boards and has in the past served on a variety of 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, Arizona SILC, Phoenix, AZ
Sidna Madden, SILC of Oklahoma, OKC, OK
At-Large Exec. Officer
Beth Quarles, Future Choices, Muncie, IN
I am Beth Y. Quarles, she, her, hers, a Ball State University graduate, wife of 43 years, a mother of 4 children, and an advocate for disabilities for 40 years, and a proud person with a disability. I had the honors to sit on the Indiana Civil Rights Commission for 12 years, I received the Point of Light award from President Bush and was invited to the signing of the American with Disability Act. July of 1990. I am one of 6 individuals who seek funding in the amount of 3.2 million to developed, design a 37 unit complex that remains open to any individuals wanting inclusive, accessible, decent and affordable housing. Which individuals come from all over the world to see the design. A founder of Future Choices Inc. a center for Independent Living and a license interpreter for the Deaf. I have been on the APRIL board since 2015 and I am excited for my new role on the executive committee. I am passionate about inclusive programs and bringing this passion to APRIL committee work.
Members At Large
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.
Larry Wanger, Dayle McIntosh Center, Anaheim, CA
Aerius Franklin, Placer Independent Living Resources (PIRS), Auburn, CA
Scott Birkenbuel, Montana Independent Living Project (MILP), Bozeman, MT
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.
Don Dew, Disability Resource Center of Siouxland (DRC), Sioux City, IA
Diane Fleser, Disability Network of West Michigan, Muskegon, MI
Whitney Doyle, Florida SILC, Tallahassee, FL
Whitney Doyle (she/her) is the Executive Director for the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology, Inc. Whitney is passionate about creating a reality in which all people are equal and have equitable access. Her disability advocacy work started in 2008 when she joined the Florida Youth Council and became a volunteer at the Florida Youth Leadership Forum. Being inspired by others who have disabilities has led her to become an active member on the Board of Directors for three national organizations: the Association of Youth Leadership Forums (since 2015), the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (since 2018), and the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living. Whitney attended her first APRIL Conference in 2015 as a presenter. One conference in Virginia Beach was all it took to add her to the APRIL family. In 2016, she was vice chair of APRIL’s Youth Conference. Whitney’s participation at APRIL introduced her to the Florida Independent Living Council (FILC), where she was first appointed in 2018 and currently serves as Treasurer. Whitney’s position on FILC made her eligible for the APRIL board. She served one term as a Youth seat (2018-2020), and currently is in her second term as a SILC representative. Whitney won APRIL’s 2018 Linda Gonzalez Youth Leadership Award for her outstanding work in advocacy for youth who have disabilities.
Whitney’s leadership and nonprofit involvement has provided an opportunity to experience examples of best practices that she has shared with the many organizations she volunteers with, including the Florida Youth Leadership Forum and the Woodhull Freedom Foundation. Whitney has a Bachelor of Applied Science in Orthotics and Prosthetics from St. Petersburg College, a Masters in Nonprofit Management from the University of Central Florida and is a Certified Prosthetist (CP).
Jeremy Morris, Ohio SILC, Gahanna, OH
Shaylin Sluzalis, 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, Disabled Resource Services, Fort Collins, CO
If you need more information, please contact the APRIL office at 501-753-3400.