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.
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.
Community Education /
Youth Services Advocate
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.
Johnnie started working at IICIL in January of 2021. She is a member of the Administration/Support Team. Her voice is the voice you will hear whenever you call the center. Johnnie is responsible for making sure that your call is directed to the IICIL advocate that best suits your needs. She will also be able to assist you with any information pertaining to your ITAC phone selection, and will be glad to help you in locating any further supportive services that you may need.
Lory Van Blair is our new Staff Associate/Driver. She joins the IICIL with over 27 years working in administration. Lory is responsible for assisting our advocates with needed transportation on their day-to-day schedules. She provides support to our Staff Assistant by handling incoming calls, information and referrals, interpreter requests, ITAC phone interviews along with appointments and duties throughout the center as needed.
Community Reintegration Specialist
Sign Language Interpreter Coordinator
Blind 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). She developed a plan to improve services for unserved and under-served populations that addressed urban and rural communities with significant African-American and Hispanic population. The center was awarded recognition for these services by ILRU for Outstanding Rural Outreach Services in 1992. Liz is also a member and past president of the Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois as well as past president of APRIL. She is the current President of the Iowa Association of Independent Living, a member of the Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living Board, and governor appointee to the Iowa Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC), the Illinois Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC), as well as the IDOT Coordinating Committee on Transportation for Illinois. 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 and Treasurer for the 11th Street Business District.
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).
Lory Van Blair
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.