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

Wrap Up: NCIL 2016 Annual Conference on Independent Living

Logo - Solidarity - Everybody In - Annual Conference on Independent Living 2016


Introduction and Evaluations

NCIL’s 2016 Annual Conference on Independent Living was an unforgettable experience. This year’s theme, Solidarity: Everybody In, brought advocates from all across the nation and the world to celebrate the Independent Living Movement and do the work that will bring our community to its full potential.

Attendance surpassed our expectations, with nearly 900 Conference attendees participating in the week’s events. We created a major presence on the streets leading to the U.S. Capitol as we marched and chanted in support of disability rights. Workshops and special events highlighted some of the best work happening in the IL Movement and created space for advocates to learn from one another. We organized Get Out The Vote efforts for the upcoming election; we heard from leaders at the Independent Living Administration about their vision for the future; and we prioritized the voices of people with disabilities currently underrepresented in our Movement.

The Japanese IL delegation had a strong presence and solidarity was in the air as we celebrated our new allyship and mourned the terrible loss of our brothers and sisters in Sagamihara. Plans began for an International IL Summit, preliminarily scheduled for 2017.

The NCIL Youth Caucus raised over $18,700 to support travel and lodging for youth with disabilities to attend this year’s Conference, which featured several powerful youth speakers at the Awards Luncheon, Closing Plenary, and Rally.

Each Conference attendee found a way to apply the theme of solidarity to their personal experiences, which gave the 2016 Annual Conference more meaning than we could have hoped. NCIL staff is very proud to have participated in this event.

We want to thank each and every one of the advocates that attended the 2016 Annual Conference on Independent Living. This year’s Conference was outstanding because of your presence and participation. We would also like to thank our sponsors, who are listed below along with links to their websites for those who wish to follow up or did not have the opportunity to attend this year’s Conference.

Please read on for further details. If you attended the Conference but did not submit an evaluation on-site, please take a few moments to tell us about your experience.

Photos Now Available!

We are very happy to announce that all 1,684 pictures from NCIL’s 2016 Annual Conference on Independent Living are now available on Flickr. 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. This year, we’ve created an album of select (captioned) photos that capture the overall feel of the 2016 Annual Conference. If you would like a specific photo added to this collection, please caption the photo in the comments or email with the link and a description. You can comment on photos using a Flickr / Yahoo account. 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

Despite scorching heat, Tuesday’s Annual March and Rally was a huge success! Conference attendees were joined by local advocates as we marched down the streets of DC to the U.S. Capitol. Hundreds of advocates flooded the streets chanting and holding signs to make sure that everyone in our path knew that disability rights are civil rights, and that we cannot be ignored!

We ended our March at the West Front Lawn with the Capitol Building right behind us. Attendees listened to remarks from passionate and powerful advocates from all around the country, and everyone got revved up to go fight for our rights on Capitol Hill! The rally was emceed by Mark Derry and Steve Higgins, and speakers included:

  • Billy Altom (Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living- APRIL)
  • Kelly Buckland
  • Bruce Darling
  • Stanley Holbrook
  • Lou Ann Kibbee
  • Sarah Launderville
  • Ari Ne’eman (Autistic Self Advocacy Network- ASAN)
  • John Paré (National Federation of the Blind- NFB)
  • Micah Peace
  • Adam Prizio (with a letter from Representative Gibson [R-NY])
  • Emet Tauber
  • Maria Town (with a letter from President Barack Obama)
  • Taryn Willaims
  • Stephanie Woodward

Last year, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and reflected on our successes. This year was all about moving forward, and speakers addressed the issues our community is struggling with and the barriers we still face. Speakers addressed this year’s Conference theme, Solidarity: Everybody In, and the need to embrace intersectionality within our movement; the need to increase funding for Centers for Independent Living around the country; legislation we’re fighting (like the ADA Notification Acts and the Murphy Bill); and legislation we’re working hard to get passed, (like the Disability Integration Act)!

After the Rally, NCIL members headed to the Hill to visit their elected officials’ staffers. Since Congress was on recess and the Democratic National Convention was happening in Philly, this was the perfect opportunity to have in-depth discussions with the staffers who have major influence on the Hill. Nearly every member of Congress’s office was visited by NCIL advocates pushing for action on issues that impact people with disabilities all over the country. People talked about specific legislation, policy positions, and personal experiences to shed light on the issues that are most important to NCIL members.

As always, this year’s Annual March, Rally, and Hill Visits were a highlight of the week. Thank you to NCIL advocates for making this another incredible event!

Youth Caucus Update

The NCIL Youth Caucus is thankful for the generous donations from sponsors, which enabled strong youth participation in NCIL’s 2016 Annual Conference on Independent Living. Gifts from donors like you made it possible for us to have a large youth representation this year. The NCIL Youth Caucus also recognizes Emily Ladau and Felicia Agrelius, current members of NCIL’s Board as well as Youth Caucus Members. We were sad to say goodbye to our 2015-2016 Youth Transitions Fellow Keri Gray, but are excited to have our 2016-2017 Fellow, Kings Floyd, on board. Overall, youth had a great time participating, learning and advocating at the Conference, and wholly embodied the message of standing with others in solidarity, this year’s Conference theme. Thanks again to our sponsors, volunteers, and attendees for making all of this possible, and we look forward to your support and involvement next year!

Annual Council Meeting

The main order of business at NCIL’s 2016 Annual Council Meeting were elections for the Governing Board. This year’s agenda included elections for Vice-President, Secretary, Diversity Chairperson, and three Members At-Large. Bruce Darling, Executive Director of the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester, New York was elected to serve as Vice-President of NCIL. Mary Margaret Moore of the Independent Living Center of the North Shore and Cape Ann in Salem, Massachusetts was elected to serve as NCIL’s Secretary. Dustin Gibson, Director of Independent Living Services as Three Rivers Center for Independent Living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was elected as Diversity Chairperson. In early 2016, NCIL’s Board and membership voted to create the Youth At-Large position on NCIL’s Governing Board. Emily Ladau was elected to serve in this brand new board seat. Emily lives in West Babylon, New York and works for Concepts, Inc. and is the Principal of Social Justice Media Services, Inc.

Regional Representatives are elected in shifts, according to the year; even-numbered regions elect their representatives in even-numbered years and odd-numbered regions elect their representatives in odd-numbered years. This year, the following individuals were elected by the members in their region to represent them on NCIL’s Governing Board:

  • Chad Underwood, Executive Director of Access to Independence of Cortland County, in Cortland, New York was elected to represent Region 2 (New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands).
  • Kent Crenshaw, Executive Director of Independent Rights & Resources in Montgomery, Alabama was elected to represent Region 4 (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee).
  • Julie Espinoza, IL Skill Specialist at REACH of Plano in Plano, Texas was re-elected to serve as the Region 6 representative (Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas).
  • Tami Hoar, Executive Director of Living Independently For Today & Tomorrow (LIFTT) was re-elected to represent Region 8 (Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming).
  • Doug Toelle, Advocacy Director at Access Alaska, was re-elected to continue his service as the representative of Region 10 (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington).

In addition, there were three Member-at-Large positions up for election at this year’s Annual Meeting. The following individuals were elected to serve as Members-at-Large on the Governing Board through the 2018 Annual Council Meeting:

  • Brian Peters, Housing Policy Advocate at IndependenceFirst in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Darrel Christenson, Vice-President of Community Integration at Ability360 in Phoenix, Arizona
  • Jessie Lorenz, Executive Director of Independent Living Resource Center (ILRC) in San Francisco, California

There were also two Member-at-Large positions available for one-year to fill vacancies on the Governing Board through the 2017 Annual Council Meeting.

  • Amity Lachowicz, Independent Living Specialist at Accessible Resources for Independence in Baltimore, Maryland
  • Steve Higgins, Executive Director of Independence Associates, Inc. in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts


The Awards Banquet is a very special event at the NCIL Conference every year. The banquet is our opportunity to come together as a community and thank advocates and allies that have fought tough battles during the past year to advance the rights and independence of people with disabilities.

Regional Advocacy Awards

  • Region 1: Bill Shine
  • Region 2: Adam Prizio
  • Region 3: Brenda Dasher
  • Region 4: Kent Crenshaw
  • Region 5: Kathy Foley
  • Region 6: Kate Garrison
  • Region 7: Rosie Cooper
  • Region 8: John Pavao
  • Region 9: Sheryl Nelson
  • Region 10: Joan O’Keefe

National Awards

  • Max Starkloff Lifetime Achievement Award: Lex Frieden
  • Max Starkloff Lifetime Achievement Award: Bob Kafka, Stephanie Thomas, and The ADAPT Community
  • President’s Award: Phil Pangrazio
  • Corey Rowley National Advocacy Award: Stephanie Woodward
  • Frank Harkin Memorial Award: Bruce Darling
  • Diana Viets Award: Lydia X. Z. Brown

Outgoing Board Member Recognition

NCIL wishes to thank the following board members whose terms ended this year. They have donated countless hours of their time, expertise, and money to serve NCIL. We will miss having them with us on the Board, but are thankful that they plan to remain involved in NCIL’s committees and advocacy efforts. Our sincere thanks to each of them!

Mark Derry has left his position as NCIL’s capable Vice-President. Mark also served as Member At-Large and past Chair of the ADA / Civil Rights Subcommittee. Mark is Principal of Eastlake, Derry, and Associates, an ADA survey company in Morgantown, West Virginia. Mark will also return to co-chairing the ADA Civil Rights Subcommittee.

Diana Garrett left her position earlier this spring to take care of her mother. Diana was NCIL’s Region 6 Representative (Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas).

Stan Holbrook has left his position as Diversity Chairperson after more than 10 years of service to NCIL. Stan is President of the Pennsylvania Council on Independent Living (PCIL) and past Executive Director of TRCIL in Pittsburgh, PA.

Ann McDaniel left her position as Secretary. Ann is Executive Director of the West Virginia SILC and will continue to serve NCIL as co-chair of the Rehab Act / IL Funding Subcommittee. Ann’s board service has spanned decades and included terms as Secretary and Member At-Large.

Cliff Perez has left his position after serving years as Representative for NCIL’s Region 2 (New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands). Cliff is Systems Advocate at the Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley in Troy, New York.

Pat Puckett has recently retired from her position as Executive Director of Georgia’s Statewide Independent Living Council. Pat served as NCIL Secretary, Member At-Large, and, most recently, Representative for NCIL’s Region 4 (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee).


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NCIL also thanks the following donors: Yoshiko Dart; Keith Gurgui; Mainstream Center for Independent Living; and American Association for Homecare.