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

Independent Living & The Rehabilitation Act

NASILC and the IL-NET T&TA Center for Independent Living Present… A National Webinar: SILC Roles and Responsibilities Within the IL Network

August 25, 2021; 3:00 – 4:30 PM Eastern

Register online

The IL-NET T&TA Center for Independent Living is collaborating with the National Association of Statewide Independent Living Councils (NASILC) to bring you this new webinar on SILC roles and responsibilities within the IL Network. Our panel will discuss SILC duties and authorities and the real world impact those can have on an IL Network. The interactive style of this presentation will provide perspective from three different SILCs and how they have become effective partners in their networks. This webinar will be great for new staff and Council members and seasoned veterans who are looking to reinvigorate the focus of their SILC. Plenty of time will be provided for open Q&A with our panelists. Sign up today!

Registration Fee: This event is free-of-charge.

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Annual Conference on Independent Living: Opening Plenary Now Available!

NCIL is pleased to release the archive of the Opening Plenary of our 2021 Annual Conference on Independent Living.

The Opening Plenary included a keynote address from NCIL’s new Executive Director Reyma McCoy McDeid. If you could not join us live, we hope you’ll take a few minutes to get to know Reyma and learn about her vision for NCIL and Independent Living.

Reyma’s introduction and speech begins at the mark 9:35 in the video.

Please enjoy this glimpse into NCIL’s 2021 Annual Conference on Independent Living. Registration is still available at

Contact for alternate formats.

2021 Annual Conference on Independent Living Logo - LIBERTY, INDEPENDENCE, FREEDOM, EQUITY. Presented by NCIL. Graphic features a line art drawing of three pulmeria flowers.

Reyma McCoy McDeid Selected as NCIL Executive Director

The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) board of directors is pleased to announce that it has named Reyma McCoy McDeid (she / her) as its new Executive Director, effective June 28, 2021. McCoy McDeid, a leading voice in the Independent Living (IL) movement, will bring both a wealth of leadership experience and a passion for disability justice to this role. Additionally, her assuming this role is historic because she will be the first ever Black executive director of a national disability organization in the US. She will succeed Kelly Buckland, who is retiring after 12 years.

“Our board of directors is thrilled that a visionary leader like Reyma will join NCIL as its next Executive Director to support the organization – and the IL movement – to evolve,” said board chair Sarah Launderville. “Reyma possesses the qualifications and expertise to nurture NCIL into becoming an intersectional, and therefore more successful, organization to create lasting impact for disabled people in the US – and beyond.”

McCoy McDeid is the former treasurer for NCIL and has been instrumental in engaging the organization tackling racial equity issues in the organization. Additionally, she has provided training and technical assistance to countless stakeholders in IL throughout the US. Prior to her appointment to the Biden / Harris administration as Commissioner for the Administration on Disabilities (AoD) within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), she served for over five years as Executive Director of Central Iowa Center for Independent Living (CICIL), winner of the 2018 City of Des Moines Organization of the Year award. She is the first openly autistic person to run for state legislature in US history, is an AT&T Humanity of Connection award-winning activist, and speaks regularly about the intersection of race and disability at universities, organizations like the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), and corporations like Microsoft.

McCoy McDeid holds a M.A. degree in Nonprofit Administration from Lindenwood University.

“I could not be more thrilled to accept the position as Executive Director to this organization at this particular moment in history. NCIL is privileged to have an extremely talented team and a dedicated membership base,” says McCoy McDeid. “My goal in leading this organization is to build on the achievements of the past as we grapple with critical conversations regarding where we, both as an organization and a key stakeholder in the IL movement, go from here. My assuming this role is bittersweet, because my mentors, Deidre Davis Butler and Stanley Holbrook, are no longer here to participate in this historic moment in IL history, but I am fully committed to honoring their legacy in everything I do, moving forward. Let’s get to work!”

McCoy McDeid’s appointment concludes a six-month national search process completed by NCIL’s succession planning committee, led by Sarah Launderville. “It has truly been a learning experience for NCIL to conduct this process as our country, and IL, on the whole, grapple with the systemic gaps created by racial inequity,” Launderville says. “We emerge from the candidate selection process both with the candidate we are confident will take IL to the next level and with a deeper understanding of the subtle, yet profound, barriers racially marginalized people face to assuming leadership roles in our movement. We look forward to sharing our lessons learned in the interest of supporting CILs and SILCs throughout our network to overcome these barriers to ensure the vital and necessary inclusion of racially marginalized colleagues in decision making roles, which we recognize is absolutely essential to ensuring the sustainability of IL as we know it.”

Please join the board of directors of NCIL in congratulating Reyma as she works with Kelly Buckland to ensure a smooth transition. 

Reyma McCoy McDeid, a light-complected Black woman in her early forties. Ms. McCoy McDeid has long curly brown hair and glasses. She is seated in front of a black background on a stool. She is wearing a short, form-fitted dress that features a watercolor pattern. Photo by Urban Couture Photography, Des Moines, IA.

Image is of McCoy McDeid, a light-complected Black woman in her early forties with long curly brown hair and glasses. She is seated in front of a black background on a stool and is wearing a short, form-fitted dress that features a watercolor pattern. Photo by Urban Couture Photography, Des Moines, IA.

Action Alert: Independent Living and President Biden’s Proposed 2022 Budget

Late last week President Biden released his Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget – the first budget of his presidency. The FY22 budget proposes $6 trillion with record high levels of federal investments in critical programs and services, including many of the priorities outlined in his American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan. Much of this would be funded by raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

Included in the President’s budget is a $32 million increase for the Independent Living Program, for a total of $148.2 million. The increase would include $29 million for Part C and $3 million for Part B. However, the budget indicates that up to $8 million of the Independent Living Program’s funding must be available to make and evaluate competitive grants to part C CILs to develop evidence-based interventions to increase employment for disabled people. While increasing employment for disabled people is critical – and something many Centers for Independent Living work toward – we oppose mandating the use of Independent Living Program funding toward non-core services. We have expressed these concerns to the Biden Administration and the Administration for Community Living (ACL) and suggested funding from employment programs be directed to CILs for this purpose.

In addition to the proposed increase for Independent Living, other programs for people with disabilities have proposed increases as well, including (but not limited to): State Councils on Developmental Disabilities; Developmental Disabilities Protection and Advocacy; the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research; University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities; Voting Access for People with Disabilities; Assistive Technology, and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. The documents with the specific proposed funding amounts can be found below.

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NCIL Welcomes Jenn Wolff and Jeremy Morris to the Board of Directors!

NCIL welcomes Jenn Wolff as Region VII Representative

Jenn Wolff Head Shot

Jenn will serve as Region VII Representative to the NCIL Governing Board, representing the states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. Jenn was elected by the Region VII members in a special election to fill the vacancy following Ami Hyten’s election as NCIL Secretary.

Jenn is a disabled occupational therapist and organizer. She has a Masters in occupational therapy from St. Catherine’s. She practiced in an outpatient clinic for 12 years and helped develop support groups for post stroke survivors, individuals with Parkinson’s, and their caregivers.

A passion for advocacy began in 2010 around Complex Rehabilitation Technology / wheelchair insurance coverage, which led to work with UsersFirst and then United Spinal Association, which included all disability related policies. She just finished an inaugural year as program coordination with the Backbones Leaders Program, is on the Executive Council for the North American Spinal Cord Injury Consortium and helps facilitate #UpgradeMedicaid, a grassroots effort to improve policies with Iowa privatized Medicaid and get caregivers a living wage.

Welcome, Jenn! We look forward to working with you!

NCIL welcomes Jeremy Morris as Treasurer

Jeremy will serve as Governing Board Treasurer and Chair of NCIL’s Finance Committee. Jeremy was appointed to the position by Sarah Launderville, NCIL’s President, to fill a vacancy after Reyma McCoy McDeid’s resignation to accept a position with the Administration for Community Living (ACL). 

Jeremy Morris is the Executive Director at Ohio Statewide Independent Living Council. Before joining the SILC in 2017, Jeremy had been working in Independent Living over 13 years, previously serving as the Executive Director of the Access Center in Dayton, Ohio and Finance Coordinator at the Western Reserve ILC in Warren, Ohio. His background in Centers for Independent Living includes direct services, advocacy and community partnerships, and operations management.

Welcome Jeremy! We look forward to working with you!

IL-NET T&TA Center Presents… A National Webinar – CIL Pandemic Response: How CILs Can Initiate Emergency Relocations and Transitions During the COVID-19 Pandemic

March 11, 2021; 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern

Register online

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted what IL advocates have known for years – that nursing homes and other congregate settings are not safe places for people with disabilities.  According to CMS data, over 128,000 nursing home residents have died of COVID-19.  We know this number is likely much higher since the CMS classification of nursing homes does not include other institutions and congregate settings, and there are reported instances of states suppressing data and nursing home underreporting. 

Thankfully CILs have been doing what they do best: getting people out of institutions and back to the community. Of course there are daunting challenges to this work during the pandemic, especially due to in-person visits being prohibited or restricted for residents in congregate settings.

It is possible, however, and we must do what we can to get people out of institutions. Join us on March 11 to learn how two CILs have accomplished emergency relocations and transitions during COVID-19.  We’ll share the activities, partnerships, advocacy, and funding that made it possible.  

Registration Fee: This event is free-of-charge.

Target Audience: Staff and board members of Centers for Independent Living. Some of the systems level responses may also be of interest to staff and members of Statewide Independent Living Councils.   

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IL-NET T&TA Center Presents… A National Webinar: CIL Pandemic Response – CARES Act Funds and Other Opportunities for Innovative CIL Actions

March 3, 2021; 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern

Register online

Centers for Independent Living are uniquely equipped to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are all over the country with grassroots deep in our communities, keenly aware of the needs of people with all types of disabilities. On top of that, CARES Act funds provided an excellent opportunity to provide additional services and supports for people with disabilities affected by the pandemic. There is much to be done, even if you did not receive CARES Act funds or have already spent them. We are at a critical time in the pandemic response, but the available information on resources and vaccines can be complicated to navigate.

Join us on March 3 to learn exactly what CILs can be doing in this moment to support people with disabilities. We’ll focus on allowable uses of CARES Act funds, vaccine information and assistance, and other resources to bolster your own understanding and to support your consumers.

Registration Fee: This event is free-of-charge.

Target Audience: Staff and board members of Centers for Independent Living. Some of the systems level responses may also be of interest to staff and members of Statewide Independent Living Councils.

What You Will Learn:

  • How CILs can use CARES Act funds, and other funding opportunities for CILs that have spent or did not receive CARES Act funds.
  • How CILs can help with vaccinations and overcoming inequities in vaccine rollouts.

Meet Your Panelists

Todd Holloway has worked for the Center For Independence (CFI) in Lakewood, WA for fifteen years. In that time he has expanded CFI’s community relationships by working directly with peer organizations and ALL of the government and non-government organizations that intersect with Independent Living and our movement. 

He is currently the chair of the NCIL Emergency Preparedness Subcommittee as well as the chair of the Tacoma Area Commission on Disability (TACoD) and the co-chair of the Pierce County Accessible Communities Advisory Council (PC-ACAC). Systemic change has become a huge focus for him and he joins many of our IL family in sharing lessons learned and best practices in an attempt to achieve true equality in all of our communities!

Ami Hyten is a licensed attorney and Executive Director of the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center (TILRC), a disability advocacy and human rights organization in Kansas. TILRC has been providing support and advocacy for self-directed personal attendant services since the program’s inception in the state of Kansas. Prior to rejoining the disability rights movement at TILRC nine years ago, Ami was a trial lawyer representing plaintiffs in civil and administrative matters, and spent several years as legislative counsel for the Kansas Supreme Court’s Office of Judicial Administration.

Jill Jacobs serves as Executive Director of the ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia (ECNV). She is an accomplished advocate and activist with an expertise in human and disability rights.

In her previous position at Booz Allen Hamilton, she advised on projects for the Department of Health and Human Services, Veteran’s Affairs, Centers for Disease Control, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, with a primary emphasis on Home and Community-based (HCBS) Long-term care. Prior to that, Jill founded and served for eighteen years as the CEO of Ability Unleashed, a Medicaid HCBS case management agency. She has held executive positions at various nonprofit and government entities and served on boards to include the World Association of People with Disabilities and UCP of Washington & Northern Virginia. She is currently on the boards of the National Council on Independent Living and the Moses West Foundation.

Paula McElwee is the Associate Director of Technical Assistance for the IL-NET National Training and Technical Assistance Center for Independent Living at Independent Living Research Utilization (ILRU). In addition to providing individualized technical assistance, Paula moderates training calls monthly for new CIL Executive Directors, Assistant Directors/Program Managers, Financial Managers of CILs, Designated State Entities (DSEs), and for SILC staff and board members. Her blog,, is a repository of technical assistance questions and answers from CILs and SILCs. Paula was the first Director of Link, Inc. in Kansas (one of the first states funded through the Rehabilitation Act) beginning in 1979. She worked in the disability field in Kansas for 25 years, and was appointed by two governors to serve three terms on the Statewide Independent Living Council of Kansas before moving to California in 2000. She previously served on the board of Resources for Independence of the Central Valley and served as interim executive director for four CILs in California, assisting the boards to transition to their next executive director. Paula has provided training, facilitation, and consultation with state associations, SILCs, and numerous centers throughout the country.

Presented by the IL-NET: The IL-NET National Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Center for Independent Living is operated by ILRU (Independent Living Research Utilization). The IL-NET T&TA Center provides training and technical assistance to centers for independent living and statewide independent living councils. The IL-NET is supported by grant numbers 90ILTA0002 and 90ISTA0002 from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.


Job Announcement: National Council on Independent Living Executive Director

The deadline to apply for this position has been extended to March 15, 2021.

The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) is currently seeking an Executive Director to succeed Kelly Buckland upon his retirement in May of 2021. NCIL encourages all qualified applicants to apply for this exciting opportunity to lead one of the nation’s premiere organizations for disability rights and independent living.

NCIL is the longest-running, national, cross-disability, grassroots organization run by and for people with disabilities. Founded in 1982, NCIL represents thousands of organizations and individuals including: individuals with disabilities, Centers for Independent Living (CILs), Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs), and other organizations that advocate for the human and civil rights of people with disabilities throughout the United States.

The Executive Director will lead a complex grassroots organization that is led by its membership and Governing Board. The ability to work with a mission-driven board, members, and grassroots stakeholders is key. The Executive Director will also direct a dedicated, passionate staff of ten and administer an annual budget of nearly $2M. NCIL’s revenue comes from a variety of sources, including membership dues, donations, and grants and contracts. Ensuring NCIL’s continued success with advocacy and policy, resource development, and operating high-quality, accessible programs and events will be critical.

NCIL approaches disability rights through the Independent Living perspective, that disability is a natural aspect of human life and that the barriers people with disabilities face are rooted in ableism and discrimination. NCIL is also committed to becoming an anti-racist organization, intent on confronting and undoing the harm of racism and injustice entrenched in disability rights, IL, and society-at-large. The next Executive Director must be committed to these same priorities to continue NCIL’s path towards justice and equity. We also believe that a diverse staff enables us to better understand and serve our members, audience, and community.

NCIL has a tremendous amount of momentum and excitement thanks to its current leadership and years of successful advocacy. This is an outstanding opportunity for the right leader as NCIL approaches a new strategic plan and its 40th anniversary in 2022. We hope you will consider applying and share this announcement with qualified candidates that you know.

The full job announcement is available at and details the responsibilities and required qualifications for the position, as well as instructions to apply. Applications must be received by the close of the business day, March 15, 2021.

NCIL Executive Director Kelly Buckland to Retire in 2021

Dear NCIL Members, Staff & Friends,

First I hope that you are all well in these very trying and turbulent times. This is one of the hardest statements I’ve ever had to write. I am writing to share the news of my intention to retire as Executive Director of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) on May 14, 2021. While I am looking forward to a new chapter in my life, I am going to miss my work as Executive Director very much! Especially, working with the hard working and dedicated NCIL employee family! Working as the Executive Director of NCIL has been one of the greatest honors of my life. I want to thank all of you humbly for allowing me this honor and for all of your support throughout the years!

This is a very important transition for NCIL and me. I have already shared my plans with NCIL’s Governing Board and staff and we have already begun implementing NCIL’s succession plan. I am confident that NCIL’s Governing Board and Executive Committee will ensure that the transition is smooth and that my replacement will be an exceptional leader and advocate for people with disabilities and independent living. We will be releasing the NCIL Executive Director position announcement and instructions on how to apply very soon. 

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Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Announces Creating Opportunities & Independence Funding Opportunity

The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation is pleased to announce its 2021 Creating Opportunity & Independence (CO&I) funding opportunity for qualifying nonprofit organizations that strive to improve the quality of life for individuals living with spinal cord injury (SCI).

Neilsen Foundation’s Community Support Grants can be requested for one or two years. The funding objectives include: promoting community integration, participation and independence for individuals living with SCI; removing barriers and fostering access; promoting health and wellness in rehabilitation, through transitional stages, and in the community; addressing regional needs; and encouraging self-efficacy. The six topic areas are: Arts, Sports and Recreation; Assistive Technology; Education; Employment; Independent Living; and Rehabilitation.

The application process begins with submission of a Letter of Intent (LOI), which will open in ProposalCentral ( on Monday, January 4, 2021. The deadline for LOI applications is February 1, 2021; the Application Guide is available now at

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