Kathy Starling

Independent Living Advocate

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.

Maria King

Independent Living Advocate

Kathy started with the center when it opened in 1988 and has been here for over 30 years. She is an Independent Living Advocate and a member of our Direct Service Team. As an advocate, she provides a number of services which includes Peer Counseling, Information and Referral, Advocacy, and Independent Living Skills Training. Kathy is very knowledgeable about information on housing and benefit programs, both locally, statewide, and nationally. She assists people with identifying transportation resources and educates them on how to access and utilize local public transportation services. Kathy also works together with Hershel to offer options counseling to consumers when needed. Our options counseling program helps to provide consumers with assistance in making decisions on their Long-term care. She is an active member in a number of local organizations and participates in numerous community events and social service activities that support the center. Kathy’s educational background includes a Bachelor's degree in Sociology and Social Work, and a Master’s of Science in Criminal Justice. She recently received her AIRS CIRS-A/D Certification as well. 

Thandra Ritchie

Blind Services Advocate

​​​​Meet our Staff

Marisa Cantu'

Community Education/Youth Services Advocate

Liz has been employed by the center for over 30 years and became the Executive Director in 1998. She is a member of the Administration/Support Team and the Resource and Development Team. Under her leadership, the agency transitioned itself to a Team Management style of operations. As a member of a team she works along with other members to guide the direction of the agency.  She oversees other team members under the guidance of the board of directors and manages annual assets of 1.4 million dollars. Liz conducts community training on the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), and other legislation that protects the rights of people with disabilities (PWD). She has been a national trainer and facilitator for both the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) and the Association of Programs on Independent Living (APRIL). A member of the Illinois Network Centers for Independent Living. Locally she is a commissioner on the Bi-State Regional Commission, Rock Island Liquor Commission, Martin Luther King Community Active Club, Housing Council Board, a member of the Rock Island County Chapter of the NAACP.  

Destiney Gleason has recently joined the IICIL as our Community Reintegration Advocate. Prior to joining IICIL, she worked at Friendship Manor as a Nursing Scheduler/ Payroll Manager for 6 years. She was also a Program Coordinator for Individuals with Brain Injuries, Behavioral and Mental diagnosis. Healthcare and helping others has been a career of choice for over 14 years. With this position, Destiney is responsible for providing assistance to individuals with disabilities who are interested in transitioning from nursing homes to Independent Living. 

Marisa was first hired at the center in 2002. She is our Community Education Advocate and is a member of the Community Education Team. Marisa provides Disability Awareness Trainings to businesses, agencies, and individuals who are interested in learning more about how to work with People with Disabilities. She works closely with a Network of Community Organizations including the chambers of commerce where she offers presentations about services offered here at the center. She also provides marketing and publicity expertise through outreach that promote our annual events and activities. Marisa has held a number of positions over the years including Independent Living Advocate. She is fluent in Spanish and available to interpret for Spanish speaking consumers. She is currently attending Western IL University where she will Graduate with a Bachelors in General Studies with an emphasis in Communications and Marketing.   Marisa is also youth service provider.  She works with children, youth, and families in the five core areas: advocacy, transition, peer support/counseling, information/referral, and independent living skills. She also runs the Fast Track Transition Program. 

Maria began working at the center in 2020. She is an Independent Living Advocate, her main duty being the Personal Assistant Program.  She provides orientation training to persons interested in becoming a Personal Assistant (PA) for consumers.    Maintains a PA list that is provided upon request by consumers, family members and advocates.  Also, Maria assists with SEAP (Supplement Emergency Assistance Program) for people with disabilities needing emergency assistance.

Jennifer has been employed at the center for over 20 years, and has provided interpreting services for over 25 years. She is a member of the Administration/Support Team. Jennifer is responsible for scheduling interpreters for various job assignments in the community. She has a variety of interpreting experiences including but not limited to: medical, mental health, legal interpreting, post-secondary education (from people attending a community college to someone attaining a PHD). Jennifer is also a member of the Resource and Development Team and is responsible for developing the quarterly newsletter “News and Views.” She is also responsible for overseeing our news releases; organizing promotional materials, annual reports, and other informational resources about the agency programs and services. Jennifer received her RID Certificate of Transliteration in 2001 and her RID Certificate of Interpretation in 2004. She holds both a Master Illinois Interpreting license and a Permanent Iowa Interpreting license. Jennifer has a 4.7/5 on the EIPA (Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment), and a Level 5 Transliterating/Level 3 Interpreting on the ISAS (Interpreter Skills Assessment Screening). 

Destiney Gleason

Community Reintegration Specialist

Jennifer Gerischer

Sign Language Interpreter Coordinator

Hershel Jackson

Independent Living Advocate for Deaf Services

Thandra began working at the center in 2019. She is the Blind Services Advocate, and a member of the Direct Services Team. She provides advocacy, individual peer support, community information and referral, orientation and mobility training, and leadership to several support groups.
In addition, Thandra teaches adaptive communication such as Braille, screen readers, electronic devices and other technology. She is currently attending St. Ambrose University where she is pursuing a Master of Business Degree in Organizational Leadership. She has professional affiliations with numerous local and state organizations that advocate independence for the blind.

Liz Sherwin

Execuive Director