the advocacy monitor

Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Wrap Up: NCIL 2019 Annual Conference on Independent Living

Logo: 2019 Annual Conference on Independent Living - featuring a white starburst graphic

This Annual Conference Wrap Up is also available in Word.



NCIL’s 2019 Annual Conference was truly a memorable experience. Over 1,000 advocates descended on Washington, DC to ignite the Independent Living Movement both inside and out. Together, we navigated difficult conversations, learned from our fellow advocates, and showed the world the power of the Independent Living Movement. We want to thank everyone who supported the conference, including all of our attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors. You are the ones who make NCIL’s work, including our conference, possible year after year.

We were pleased to once again have two excellent pre-conference sessions: “NCIL & ILA/ACL – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”, and a dialogue on accessible voting with U.S. Election Assistance Commissioners. Given the recent Administration for Community Living (ACL) changes and the upcoming 2020 Presidential election, both of these sessions were extremely timely and provided much needed information to our attendees.

Our listening session on racism and xenophobia within the Independent Living Movement on Monday morning was a raw, honest discussion, and a reminder of how far the movement has to go in order to truly welcome all people. In a time when the spirit of the Independent Living Movement is threatened at every turn by outside forces, it is important to take time to look inward, examine our own prejudices, and listen to the voices of those most marginalized within our movement. These conversations continued throughout the conference week and will continue as NCIL works to become more inclusive and combat racism and xenophobia in the movement.

For the second year in a row, we braved the rain for our annual March and Rally, but our spirits weren’t dampened! We marched through the streets of DC, chanting and turning heads everywhere we went. Members of Congress, staffers, and IL advocates alike ignited the crowd at the rally, firing everyone up for Hill Visits. See below for more details on this year’s Rally.

This year, we debuted our conference app. This app, created with event technology company Cvent, allowed conference attendees to view the conference schedule, navigate maps of the conference floor, and access information about Hill visits, all while on the go and without the hassle of hard copy materials. If you have opinions on the app, please share them with us when you fill out your conference evaluation! We recognize that not all conference attendees will want to use the app, but we look forward to refining it in future years with the goal of cutting down the amount of hard copy materials we need to produce.

There are so many more highlights of the conference in this wrap-up. We hope you’ll take the time to read it and look through the photos. If you attended the conference, please take a few moments to fill out our conference evaluation and tell us about your experience.

Photos Now Available!

We are very happy to announce that all 3,110 pictures from NCIL’s 2019 Annual Conference on Independent Living are now available on Flickr.

We have created an album of 300 select (captioned) photos that capture the overall feel of the 2019 Annual Conference.

If you would like a specific photo added to this collection, please caption the photo in the comments or email [email protected] with the link and a description. You can comment on photos using a Flickr / Yahoo account.

We apologize that we do not have the capacity or knowledge to caption every picture. If you see a picture of yourself or others you know, please caption it for the benefit of all. We can also take requests for specific photos at the email address above.

Special thanks to Michael Clegg for his amazing photos and, as always, thanks to our members, who made these photographs what they are: the story of our people gathering in our nation’s Capital to bring about equality and freedom for people with disabilities!

NCIL March, Rally, and Hill Visits

The rain didn’t stop this year’s Annual March and Rally from being yet another huge success! Almost 1,000 NCIL members from across the country were joined by local disability rights advocates as we marched through the streets of DC holding signs, making noise, and creating a disturbance in the streets in the name of disability rights! 

The MCI D45 CRT LE Commuter Coach served as the “chase vehicle” for the March and offered assistance to anyone needing it as we made our way to the Capitol.

After arriving at the West Front Lawn of the US Capitol, Rally participants listened to powerful remarks from over a dozen speakers and got revved up to meet with their legislators on the Hill. The Rally was emceed by Steve Higgins, and speakers included:

  • Kelly Buckland
  • Brian Peters
  • Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
  • Jessica Jimenez
  • Noah Ohashi (joined by a group of conference attendees from Japan)
  • Yvonne Smith
  • Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI)
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
  • Selene Luna
  • Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)
  • Shannon Minnick
  • Ami Hyten
  • Sheryl Grossman
  • Cliff Perez
  • Sarah Launderville

Our speakers discussed their commitment to preserving the protections guaranteed to us under the Americans with Disabilities Act and pushing forward other important community priorities. Speakers talked about the importance of community integration and the many barriers disabled people still face in our communities. The NCIL Rally was an important space for us to voice our pride and determination and to hear from legislators who support our advocacy. This year’s event once again gave us an opportunity to show our collective strength as a community.

After the Rally, NCIL members stormed the Hill to meet with their elected officials and talk about the key issues we’re fighting for. NCIL members talked about key priority issues important to their elected officials’ disabled constituents and the entire IL community.

The March, Rally and Hill Visits are an exciting and important part of the Annual NCIL Conference, and as always, this year was as exciting as ever. Thank you to everyone who made this day a powerful and effective event!

Annual Council Meeting

NCIL’s primary agenda items for the 2019 Annual Council Meeting were to elect new members for the Governing Board and consider several resolutions from the membership. This year’s elections included the following positions: President, Treasurer, and three new Members At-Large. In addition, a special election was held because a current board member was elected to another position, leaving a vacancy. 

  • Sarah Launderville is NCIL’s new Governing Board President. Sarah is the Executive Director of the Vermont Center for Independent Living (CIL) in Montpelier, Vermont. Sarah has previously served as NCIL’s Vice-President and Region 1 Representative.
  • Sarah’s election as President left an opening in the Vice-President position. A special election was held to fill the vacancy. Cliff Perez was elected as NCIL’s Vice-President. Cliff Perez is a Systems Advocate at the Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley in Troy, NY. Cliff was previously NCIL’s Region 2 Representative. 
  • Reyma McCoy McDeid was elected to serve as NCIL’s Treasurer. Reyma is Executive Director of Central Iowa Center for Independent Living (CICIL) in Des Moines, Iowa. Reyma previously served as Member at-Large on NCIL’s Board. 

There were three Member At-Large positions up for election this year. These are the new Members At-Large:

  • Kimberly Tissot is the Executive Director of ABLE, SC in Columbia and upstate South Carolina. 
  • Allilsa Fernandez is an advocate from Jamaica, Queens in New York.
  • Darrel Christenson is the Vice-President of Community Integration of Ability360 in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Regional Representatives rotate elections every other year, with even-numbered regions elected in even-numbered years and odd-numbered regions elected in odd-numbered years. Elections for the Regional Representatives in odd-numbered regions were held prior to the conference and announced at the Annual Council Meeting:

  • Region 1 re-elected Steve Higgins, Executive Director for Independence Associates, Inc. in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts.
  • Despite our best efforts, we did not receive any nominations from Region 3 before the conference. We have extended the nomination window and an election will be held very soon. 
  • Maureen Ryan was re-elected as Region 5 Representative, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Coalition of Independent Living Centers from Madison, Wisconsin.
  • Ami Hyten was re-elected Region 7 Representative. Ami is Executive Director of Topeka Independent Living Resource Center (TILRC) in Topeka, KS.
  • Sheri Burns, Executive Director for Silicon Valley ILC in San Jose, California, was re-elected Region 9 Representative.

Congratulations to all of our new and returning Governing Board members!

NCIL’s membership also considered several resolutions at the Annual Council Meeting. The following resolutions were adopted by NCIL’s membership. 

Resolution on Voter Verification Systems: This resolution calls for NCIL to take all steps necessary, beginning with advocacy with the Federal Election Assistance Commission and the National Association of Secretaries of State, for the recognition that electronic pollbooks or voter verification systems should be accessible to persons who have a disability and for the adoption of a requirement that every jurisdiction must implement an accessible voter verification system. Read the Resolution on Voter Verification Systems.

Resolution on Access Ready Environments: This resolution calls for NCIL to advocate for governments and businesses to voluntarily implement all steps necessary to set Access Ready information technology standards, ascertain the necessary upgrades to create an Access Ready environment, advocate that the US DOJ take action against those who avoid or refuse to implement or provide Access Ready information technology, and to support persons with disabilities, friends, families and civil rights organizations to bring attention for immediate action to alter technology development and implementation to include accessibility at the outset. Read the Resolution on Access Ready Environments.

Resolution for Inclusive Emergency Management: This resolution calls for NCIL to advocate for the Red Cross and others to provide equal access to all emergency and disaster programs and services before, during and after disasters in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of disaster impacted people with disabilities, without exception required by law. The resolution also states that NCIL will call on the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to monitor and enforce the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, oppose the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issuing waivers in disasters that allow institutionalization of people with disabilities, support and advocate for REAADI and DRMA, partner with the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies to promote inclusive disaster initiatives to the IL community, and press the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Administration for Community Living to lead and provide adequate human and funding resources to a coordinated effort across federal government agencies, states, etc. in collaboration with people who are aging and people with disabilities in leadership roles, to achieve and maintain on-going planning, preparation, and implementation of inclusive emergency and disaster initiatives. Read the Resolution for Inclusive Emergency Management.


Each year NCIL uses the Awards Banquet to recognize and thank advocates for their outstanding work during the past year. We strive to select and honor individuals that are not often awarded on a national stage. The Awards Banquet is truly a special event and we offer our deepest appreciation for this year’s winners, listed below.


  • Centene Corporation
  • Anthem


  • Max Starkloff Lifetime Achievement Award: Marca Bristo
  • President’s Award: Bob Williams
  • Corey Rowley National Advocacy Award: Ann McDaniel
  • Diana Viets Award: Angie Miller


  • Region 1: David Correia
  • Region 2: Meghan Parker
  • Region 3: Shelly Houser
  • Region 4: Jose Morales
  • Region 5: The Ability Center of Greater Toledo
  • Region 6: Julie Ross
  • Region 7: Chris Owens
  • Region 8: Josh Winkler
  • Region 9: Cindy Calderon
  • Region 10: Doug Toelle


Once again, we would like to thank all of our sponsors and exhibitors for making our conference possible year after year. Whether you’re a first time sponsor or you’ve been with us for years, there’s always something for all our sponsors and exhibitors at the NCIL conference. Every year, we find new and creative ways to highlight our sponsors, so make sure you’re on board for next year!

Soldier For Justice

  • Anthem
  • Centene


  • Verizon
  • Walmart


  • Uber


  • Waymo
  • WITH Foundation
  • PhRMA

Mover & Shaker

  • Motor Coach Industries
  • Center for Disability Rights


  • Molina Healthcare
  • Pride Mobility
  • Airbnb
  • Ability360
  • United Healthcare


  • Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies
  • National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology
  • Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation
Top Sponsor Logos: Anthem, Centene Corporation, Verizon, and Walmart
Logos: Anthem, Centene Corporation, Verizon, and Walmart


  1. Deanna Henke says

    This was my second year attending the NCIL conference. My first time was three years ago. I am a board member on the SILC of Nebraska. When you called a listening session was not a raw and honest look at prejudice. A listening session involves open communication and listening by both parties. The lady on the stage was rude And dismissive of anybody’s views they did not align exactly with hers. She was not open to discussion and this team continue throughout the conference. I am a person with hearing loss and need to read the CART. The protesters that came to the awards banquet blocked my access to read that which made it impossible for me to know what was going on or to participate. If accessibility is no longer going to be a priority at your conference I will no longer attend. The way this year’s conference went greatly upset me. I filled out a survey but looking at this newsletter those words went unheard .