2020 Annual Conference on Independent Living Wrap-Up

Evolution of our Revolution - 2020 Annual Conference on Independent Living Logo features a heart icon inside a speech bubble.


NCIL’s 2020 Annual Conference on Independent Living was truly unprecedented – an accessible virtual conference on disability rights and independent living. Despite having just weeks to overhaul our entire conference and transform it into a virtual experience, we were able to put together a 3 week conference packed with a plethora of content affecting CILs, SILCs, and people with disabilities: advocacy and public policy, the COVID-19 pandemic, racism and racial justice, voting rights and access, and so much more. Yes, three weeks was a very long time, but all conference content was recorded and offered online so that people did not have to attend live. Part of the reason for the long conference is that we had already accepted all of our workshops for the original, in-person conference, but we needed to add content on COVID-19 and racial justice and police violence to address everything that was happening in 2020. 

While we all missed our iconic NCIL March through the streets of Washington, we were thrilled to see everyone’s photos for the virtual March, and our virtual Rally was a really exciting and moving event. Holding a virtual conference came with some silver linings, too. We had our largest conference in NCIL history, with well over 1,000 participants. Without the need to travel, more people than ever were able to afford and access the conference. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, to all of our 2020 Annual Conference attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors, who stuck with us during this unexpected upheaval. You are the ones who make the NCIL conference special, no matter if it’s virtual or in person. We could not have gotten through this year without the support of our members, conference attendees, and donors. 

While there’s no question that this has been a very difficult year – devastating at times – the NCIL conference was transformed by the realities of COVID-19 pandemic. Some of that has resulted in positive changes that will stay with us in the future. We are so glad to be a part of this evolution and we are excited for what the future holds. 

NCIL Virtual Day on the Hill

This year’s Virtual Conference included a new and exciting format for our Annual Day on the Hill!

For our Virtual March, participants made homemade signs with their own messages and sent us pictures. You can see those pictures (with image descriptions) at the Virtual March page.

For our Virtual Rally, people from across the country tuned in online to hear from an incredible lineup of speakers! Advocates and members of Congress delivered powerful remarks about the COVID-19 pandemic, racial justice, the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, inclusive education, voting access, the institutional bias, housing, immigration, and more. We heard from:

  • Sarah Launderville
  • Senator Bob Casey
  • Representative Jim Langevin
  • Yvonne Smith
  • Allilsa Fernandez
  • Bobby Lucas
  • Michelle Garcia
  • Brian Peters
  • Elena and Xiomara Hung
  • Cliff Perez
  • Reyma McCoy McDeid
  • Ami Hyten
  • Kelly Buckland

Additionally, we received recorded remarks after the Rally from Representative Deb Haaland. Her video, along with the archived Rally video and additional info, can be viewed at the Virtual Rally page.

All of the important remarks from our Rally speakers informed and energized attendees to go fully-prepared into their virtual hill meetings with their legislators. Conference attendees met with their Senators and Representatives on a variety of virtual platforms (phone, Zoom, and others) to talk about the issues most important to them. And this year’s Virtual Hill visits came at just the right time, with Congress returning from recess just the day before! People talked to their members of Congress about a range of issues facing the disability community, and importantly, people emphasized the critical need for Congress to take quick action and prioritize the needs of their disabled constituents in their COVID-19 response.

The March, Rally and Hill Visits are always an exciting and important part of the Annual NCIL Conference. This year’s events looked a little different than they usually do, but they were successful because of YOU! Thank you to everyone who made this day a powerful and effective event.

Governing Board Elections

NCIL’s Governing Board elections were held virtually this year, with the entire membership utilizing electronic ballots to vote for Governing Board members. This year’s elections included the following positions: Vice-President, Secretary, Diversity Committee Chair, 3 Members At-Large positions, Youth At-Large, and the Regional Representatives from Even-numbered Regions.

Vice President, Secretary, and Diversity Chair

  • Cliff Perez was re-elected to serve as NCIL’s Vice-President. Cliff Perez is the Systems Advocacy Coordinator at the Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley in Troy, New York.
  • Ami Hyten was elected to serve as NCIL’s Secretary. Ami is the Executive Director of TILRC (Topeka Independent Living Resource Center) in Topeka, Kansas.
  • Allilsa Fernandez was elected to serve as NCIL’s Diversity Committee Chairperson. Allilsa is an advocate from Jamaica, Queens in New York.

Members At-Large

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

  • Brian Peters is the Community Access & Policy Specialist from IndependenceFirst in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  • Germán Parodi is the Co-Executive Director of Inclusive Disaster Strategies in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • Kim Gibson is the Executive Director of Disability Link in Tucker, Georgia.

We also had a Member At-Large vacancy for Allilsa Fernandez’s position, since they were elected to serve at Diversity Committee Chair. Eiryn Griest-Schwartzman was appointed to serve in this position in September. Eiryn will complete this term, which continues through July of 2021.

Regional Representatives

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.

  • Region 2 Representative: Aaron Baier was re-elected to serve as NCIL’s Region 2 Representative. Aaron is Executive Director of Access to Independence of Cortland County in Cortland, NY.
  • Region 4 Representative: Kent Crenshaw was re-elected to serve as NCIL’s Region 4 Representative. Kent is the Executive Director of Independent Rights & Resources in Montgomery, Alabama.
  • Region 6 Representative: Sha’ Anderson was re-elected to serve as NCIL’s Region 5 Representative. Sha’ is the Executive Director of the Arkansas SILC.
  • Region 8 Representative: NCIL did not receive nominees for Region 8 in time for the conference, but we do have a new appointment to announce. Amber Alexander was appointed to serve as the Region 8 Representative in September. Amber is the Project Out Case Manager at Wyoming Independent Living Resources (WILR) in Casper, Wyoming.
  • Region 10 Representative: Kimberly Meck was re-elected to serve as Region 10 Representative. Kimberly is the Executive Director of the Alliance of People with Disabilities in Seattle, Washington.

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


NCIL’s members considered two proposed resolutions this year. Both of these resolutions were adopted by the membership.


Regional Advocacy Awards

Region 1: Ericka Reil

Ericka Reil lives and breathes independent living. She has worked at the Vermont Center for Independent Living for 17 years and is a proud woman living with disabilities. She fights for the rights of individuals with disabilities from a personal experience with disabilities and as a mother of a child, Will who had Autism. Will has since died and she continues to honor him and by fighting against groups not led by those with disabilities. She represents disability rights at the Vermont Victims Academy, training advocates for domestic and sexual violence. She is the Chair of the Disability Rights Vermont PAIMI Council, represents disability where she sees it lacking. She has led ADA celebrations, and advocates and prioritizes those who are homeless. She has taken the lead on representing disability on the VT Human Trafficking Task Force. She’s been arrested multiple times with ADAPT, and enjoys activism, politics and reading. She helped start the first ADA Committee in her town of Barre City and recently was elected to the City Council. Ericka is a force and has a heart of gold. She’s known for her giving nature, making sure she has bottled water to distribute to those who need it and taking up collections to help individuals. Her title of Advocacy Coordinator is fitting and it’s more than a title, it’s her life.

Region 2: Agnes McCray

Agnes came to this country with her family as a young child from the south Pacific. Agnes was born with cerebral palsy and uses a power wheelchair. She graduated from high school in Syracuse, NY and jumped into a lifetime of disability rights advocacy. She has risen from a volunteer at ARISE, the local CIL, to being named the President of the Board of Directors. Agnes has been the face of ARISE’s grassroots organizing–she testifies at public hearings and negotiates with local politicians and agency directors on housing, transportation, healthcare and a myriad of other issues. Whether the meeting or rally is in Syracuse, Albany or Washington, Agnes answers the call. Agnes is the mother of 3–all impressive young men, two of whom are currently in college and the oldest working in health care.

Region 3: Germán Parodi & Shaylin Sluzalis

Shaylin and Germán are not your ordinary Co-Executive Directors. They are leaders together; equally in love with, and dedicated to, disability rights, equal access and independence for all. Shaylin and Germán are disability rights activists by nature, having met at an ADAPT Action and fell in love at first site in May 2017. They have been a powerful team ever since, leading in disability rights community organizing, disability-led disaster response, and empowering community resilience and optimizing outcomes for all nationwide and across the world. Shaylin and Germán were raised in the independent living and disability rights movement in their own ways that ultimately brought them together, led them to deploy as first responders in October 2017 to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and most recently to the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian, and now fuels their dedicated and focused work in inclusive emergency management and community resilience. You won’t find one without the other, they are a package deal, and are a powerhouse together, partners in crime, in action, and in love -confident that together, and with the unity of the disability community, they can change the world to be equally accessible for all.

Region 4: Ken Mitchell

Ken Mitchell comes from a lifetime of self-advocacy and system advocacy. Ken served our Country and acquired a disability because of it. As an Army Veteran he strives to advocate for systems improvements within the VA. He is a peer supporter in the disability community. He commits to his job and his advocacy by being involved in a wide range of peer led organizations, including the ADAPT, Concerned Transit Riders for Equal Access (CTREA) for which he was a founding member, “Us Protecting Us”as a founding member to address the injustices people with disabilities and people of color face in regards to police brutality, National Federation for the Blind and other disability related organizations. He is firm in the belief of equal access and often challenges and less efforts that relate to people with disabilities. He has led in voter accessibility issues in Georgia, he participates in the Democratic and neighborhood groups. He is known throughout Georgia when it does come to addressing transportation issues, service animal issues, rights and benefits. He will always listen, provide guidance, and help individuals advocate. Many times individuals get recognized for that one big thing they did rather than the foundation they lay to provide the help up when advocating, the quiet leadership that helps groups form, funding that is given so others can participate. He is the first to step up and help others step up by providing the support. Ken is an advocate by nature. He has earned his stripes by being active in the community, involved in the community, ensuring voices of people with disabilities is heard. It is for these reasons I nominate this individual for this award.

Region 5: Renee Wood

Renee Wood has been a leader in disability advocacy for many years in Ohio. As Chair of the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council, she helped to bring the Independent Living Philosophy to the DD Network, she is currently a member of the Ohio SILC, board member of a CIL, and chair of the Ohio Olmstead Task Force. As chair of the Olmstead Task Force, she had brought together individuals, organizations, and state agencies to discuss and advance the inclusion of individuals with disabilities for all in Ohio. Recently, the Task Force held a forum with state agencies to discuss the direct service workforce crisis which created recommendations that were sent to the Governor, brought the Director of the Department of Medicaid to the Task Force to get updates on how they were responding to COVID-19 and about updating the state Olmstead Plan. In a project that recently discussed how advocacy was promoted in the DD Network, Renee led the charge of promoting Independent Living Philosophy to be integrated into the DD System of Ohio. This included advocating for the County Boards of Developmental Disabilities to have a majority of their appointed board members be individuals eligible for services. In her spare time, she also writes a blog https://reneewood2.wordpress.com/ where she discusses many disability rights issues and shares her perspective. Renee is a true leader and respected voice in the disability community in Ohio.     

Region 6: Jessica Lewis

Jessica Lewis is the Executive Director of the Louisiana SILC. She is a graduate of Southern University where she has obtained a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Management and moved on to receive her Masters of Business Administration (MBA). Jessica has worked extensively in matters concerning Mental Health and Individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities along with continuous work in the community for the betterment of society and for individuals with disabilities.

For over 10 years, Jessica has worked tirelessly on disability issues and educating the public on the independent living movement. She serves with humility to promote the rights of individuals with disabilities.

Jessica continues to work with organizations and community events educating and advocating for individuals with disabilities.

Some of her successes as SILC director include but not limited to the following: Established the REVUP campaign for the state of Louisiana (Register, Educate, Vote- Use Your Power)in 2017, launched a statewide campaign with the SILC Board of Directors holding activities relating to REV UP; led a public service announcement (PSA) to inform the state of LA about the SILC and the importance of REV UP and received the endorsement of Governor John Bel Edwards in doing so; hosted over 500 individuals at the first Inclusion Job & Resource Fair to assist the disability community and other vulnerable populations in finding a job. Jessica is the second woman of color of the LA SILC to restore funding to the SILC up to $10,000.

Said Rashad Bristo, Vice Chair of the LA SILC; “Jessica is the epitome of leadership. She has proven time and time again that she will go above and beyond the call of duty. It is a breath of fresh air to know that she is at the helm of the Louisiana SILC”.

She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated and the National Association of University Women (NAUW) where she is actively involved on the Social Action and Political Awareness committees.

Jessica loves life and enjoys spending time with family and friends when she is not advocating for Individuals with disabilities. Her favorite quote is “All the strength and force of man comes from his faith in things unseen. He who believes is strong; he who doubts is weak. Strong convictions precede great actions.”

Region 7: Reyma McCoy McDeid

The Region VII Advocacy Award winner for 2020 is Reyma McCoy McDeid.

Under her leadership, her agency, the Central Iowa Center for Independent Living, has established its place as a strident disability advocacy and service agency. Several years into her tenure as Executive Director, CICIL won the 2018 Organization of the Year award from the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission.

In line with the focus of CICIL as an agent for advancing the rights of people with all types of disabilities, engaging them in public policy processes, and empowering them to meaningfully engage in those processes, Reyma coordinated an accessible caucus adjacent to the Iowa Caucuses in March 2020.

Reyma serves as treasurer for both the National Council on Independent Living and is the Chair for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. She is the recipient of a 2019 AT&T Humanity of Connection award.

Reyma’s fierce advocacy and commitment to cross-age, cross-issue advocacy has placed her at the forefront of anti-racism and equity work in disability spaces. Her vocation has shifted from serving marginalized people to addressing how systems create marginalized people. Reyma challenges us all to meet the call for equity and inclusion in all spaces. It is an honor to recognize her work as the 2020 Region VII Advocacy Awardee.

Region 8: Dr. Aisha Rousseau

Dr. Aisha Rousseau has an expert understanding of disability protections and the range of strengths and needs of individuals with disabilities. Her understanding and expertise has been put to work during the pandemic. Dr. Rousseau has been leading a team in Denver’s Emergency Operations Center since March 2020 and has consistently advocated for the needs of the Denver disability community during the pandemic and to ensure that appropriate safety nets are in place for individuals with disabilities. In this role, she has kept the Denver disability community updated with emergency plans, breaking news, and accessible resources. While doing all of this, she continued to make time to do work connected to the Denver Division of Disability Rights and continues to personally reach out to various individuals in the disability community to check-in, provide referrals and opportunities for funding, provide insight on strategies to self-advocate in the community, and receive input to help guide decisions on policies and procedures related to COVID-19 and beyond.

Region 9: Dwight Bateman

Twenty-seven years ago, Dwight H. Bateman joined the Independent Living Movement when he became employed by the Disability Resource Agency for Independent Living, serving Amador, Calaveras, Mariposa, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne counties in California. Dwight also briefly worked at ILR of Solano & Contra Costa Counties. He held several positions at the Disability Resources Agency for Independent Living from 1995 to 2007, including ILS Service provider, Program Manager, Executive Director, and board member. During those years, Dwight served as the Region 9 Representative to the NCIL Board and was very active in disability rights on numerous fronts and at every level of policy.

Dwight then served in several positions at the Department of Rehabilitation from 2009 to 2020, including grant administrator, volunteer appeals board member and volunteer disaster services functional assessment service team member. During his time with the state, he became a champion for the centers he worked with, and this is where his advocacy and mentoring for CILs grew. Thanks to Dwight many CIL directors have grown to be the leaders they are today.

In 2020, Dwight Bateman was appointed to the California State Independent Living Council. Bateman is also a member of the National Council on Independent Living, Stanislaus County In-Home Supportive Services Advisory Committee, and is chair of the California Rehabilitation Appeals Board. It’s because of the advocacy he does day in and day out for his community Dwight Bateman was chosen by his peers as Advocate of the Year for Region 9. We enthusiastically thank Dwight for all has done for the IL movement and know that in his retirement his advocacy for his community and for people with disabilities throughout the country will grow and positively impact our community.    

Region 10: Danielle Bailey

For the last 5 years, Danielle Bailey has been the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) Region X Disability Integration Specialist serving Alaska, Oregon, Idaho and Washington. In this role, Danielle works directly with disability self-advocates, agencies and organizations to provide guidance, tools, and strategies that integrate and coordinate inclusive practices with emergency managers, planners and the whole community.

Danielle’s advocacy roots run deep. She holds a Master of Public Health (MPH), Health Management and Policy from Portland State University and a Bachelor of Science in Health Services from Ohio University. She has worked as a disability ally for over twenty years in a variety of positions to promote independence and inclusion of adults with disabilities. Danielle’s past positions have included case management and advocacy for United Cerebral Palsy Oregon and SW Washington Chapter, Developmental Disability Resource Center (DDRC) in Colorado and Self Determination Resources Inc. (SDRI) in Oregon.

Danielle has also worked as a Program Coordinator and Research Associate for the Oregon Office on Disability and Health a public health program under the Institute on Developmental and Disability at the Oregon Health Sciences University focusing on disability and health disparities research; inclusive emergency planning and preparedness for people with disabilities; and community engagement focusing on efforts to identify and remove barriers to community participation and increase health care access for people with disabilities.

As FEMA’s Region X representative, Danielle’s breadth of knowledge and understanding of disability and disability rights brings advocates and key stakeholders to the table during “blue skies”, emergencies/disasters, and recovery. She has innate ability to connect people, organizations, and agencies that allows us to share best practices, identifying gaps, and course correct as needed.

Danielle’s passion, in-depth knowledge of disability, and her ability to see the strategic big picture and identify the tactical strategies has been a key component in how Region X has been able to address the COVID pandemic and make significant strides for all states in Region X towards full inclusion and accessibility in emergency preparedness and response. Danielle and her team are an extremely important part of our success; she never gives up and supports each and every one of us. Danielle embodies the IL philosophy and is a great ally in her capacity as the FEMA Disability Integration Specialist, which is why she has been chosen as the Region X Advocate of the Year.

Corey Rowley National Advocacy Award

Penny Shaw

Penny Shaw, 77 has been living in Braintree Manor Nursing Home since 2002 because she can’t get the level of personal care she needs in the community approved by Massachusetts Medicaid. Undaunted, she took on a new fight in 2011; she’s been fighting for basic human and civil rights as a quote unquote patient and for appropriate staffing.

After winning a fight for basic communication access she was able to use a computer and access the internet. She began participating on calls regularly with the CMS Clinical Standards and Quality and Oversight Group nursing home division to tell the real story about life in a nursing home. As a result, quality metrics were changed, not to mention ingrained stigmatism.

She soon became a frequent speaker and published writer on nursing home issues. This year Penny found herself living in a ”death camp” with COVID-19 infections and deaths steadily increasing in her facility. She personally experienced life-threatening blatant violations of Massachusetts and CDC guidelines for protection of patients and staff and, once again, advocated by filing complaints with the State Department of Public Health, Attorney General and Medicaid. Successes included getting more staff, exposing for profit corporate greed and profit over patient/staff safety and forcing management to follow the law.

Penny was recently appointed to the White House Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes. She continues her advocacy and is presently bringing media attention to her situation and continually pointing out that this is playing out nationally in every state.

Penny is an advocate’s advocate and I think Corey Rowley would definitely approve of her receiving the National Advocacy Award in her name. I’m so happy to announce this year’s awardee for the Corey Rowley National Advocacy Award: Penny Shaw.

Frank Harkin Memorial Award

Susan Ross

Ms. Susan Ross has served as the Republican clerk of the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee since January 2012. Prior to that time, she was the lead education staffer for the House Appropriations Committee Republican Staff, advising the Subcommittee Chairman and other Members on the $70 billion annual federal education budget. In addition to her work on the Appropriations Committee, she has served as the Director of Education and Humans Services Policy for the House Education and the Workforce Committee Republicans. She began her career as a Presidential Management Intern in the U.S. Department of Education after completing a Master’s degree in Public Finance at Indiana University. Ms. Ross also graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Political Science from Baylor University. In addition to her work in education, she also has expertise in areas of disability, aging, social services, and health programs.

Susan has been a huge supporter of disability rights, Independent Living, and disability programs. We are so pleased to announce Susan Ross as the recipient of NCIL’s 2020 Frank Harkin Memorial Award.

Diana Viets Award

Erica Torres

Erica Torres embraces the Independent Living Philosophy, demonstrates on a daily basis how to support youth with disabilities to succeed in their independent living goals and fully supports, guides, advocates, and mentors for those around her.

In 2014, the Center for Living and Working in Worcester, Massachusetts hired Erica for a temporary summer position. Erica enjoyed it so much that she sought out a permanent position. In the fall of 2015, Erica was promoted to the Youth Service Coordinator position, and in 2016, Erica was promoted to Youth Services Manager. In the summer of 2016, Erica traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the NCIL Conference. This pivotal experience drove Erica to succeed in ways that Erica will say she never thought was possible- although, we all know Erica is a superstar!

Erica loves learning and challenging herself, as a person with a disability, nothing will hold her back from pushing herself to greater lengths! Erica is hard working, committed, and dedicated. Erica passionately built CLW’s Youth Services Department from the ground up and this fall 2020, plans on attending a highly regarded Leadership program through the Provider’s Council and Clark University. Erica seeks to show youth, her colleagues and peers that being a person with a disability should not hinder anyone from life goals regardless whether people believe it can be done or not.

Erica works tirelessly to support youth with disabilities in Central MA. Erica is a fearless leader in Youth Services programming in Central, Massachusetts. From spearheading the roll-out of new contracts, to leading a team to be mission-driven and successful in supporting youth with disabilities, Erica has really shown what she is capable of as a leader and mentor. Erica has developed positive, trusting and lasting relationships with service providers throughout MA. Erica has launched numerous collaborations with private and non-profit providers in Central, MA. Erica’s “can do” and positive attitude showcase both the great work that Erica is doing, but also her commitment to CLW and independent living services. I am so happy to announce Erica Torres as NCIL’s 2020 Diana Viets Awardee.

President’s Award

Reyma McCoy McDeid

See biography above.

Max Starkloff Lifetime Achievement Award

Phil Pangrazio

Phil Pangrazio is the President & CEO of Ability360, one of the largest CILs in the country. Phil oversaw the planning and construction of the Disability Empowerment Center of Arizona that opened in 2008 and has become shared office space for Ability360 and 10 other non-profits devoted to serving persons with disabilities. He also led a fundraising effort to build the Virginia G. Piper Sports & Fitness Center for persons with disabilities. Phil is a past Board member of the NCIL. A quadriplegic and wheelchair user for over 30 years, he was honored in 2010 with the Martin Luther King Jr. “Stand up for Justice, Living the Dream Award” by the City of Phoenix.

Phil is past Treasurer of NCIL, chair of our Resource Development Committee, and has donated countless hours to NCIL to help fundraise. But Phil’s impact goes so far beyond his work with NCIL. Phil’s impact and the impact of Ability360 is larger than life in Phoenix and the Valley of the Sun. But Phil’s dedication and investment in nationwide advocacy and leadership has expanded his impact as a leader for IL advocates and people with disabilities everywhere. Phil has recently announced his plans to retire as President and CEO of Ability360 and we thought this would be a fitting time to recognize Phil for his achievements, contributions, and dedication to the Independent Living Movement.

Deidre Davis

Deidre Davis Butler is an attorney and disability rights advocate. With a career spanning more than 40 years, Deidre has worked to promote legislative and social change geared toward providing equal access to ALL things with and for persons with disabilities. She has helped craft, implement and enforce employment laws, including, but not limited to the Air Carrier Access Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Davis served as a presidential appointee in U.S. President Bill Clinton’s administration from 1995 – 2001. As a White House appointee, she served in the Office of Presidential Personnel and at the U.S. Department of State (DOS) as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Equal Employment Opportunity and Civil Rights. There, she enforced U.S. civil rights laws within the Foreign Service, at U.S. embassies and for the DOS Civil Service employees. Additionally, Davis traveled worldwide training on the ADA, independent living and the importance of disability rights as human rights. She reported directly to the Secretary of States Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright, and has been recognized by President George H.W. Bush and Barack Hussein Obama for her contributions.

Deidre’s Federal service career also includes tenure as the Chief of the Federal Independent Living Program at the U.S. Department of Education, RSA. (1987-91). During her tenure, the CIL indicators were developed, consumer control became the standard and diversity in race and disability on Peer Review teams was achieved. Her work also resulted in the establishment of CILs in rural and urban communities such as the CIL in Harlem, NY.

After the ADA became law, Deidre served as the Director of ADA Training at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Deidre lead the Federal Government’s training initiatives, which were necessary to implement the ADA. ( joint EEOC & DEPT OF JUSTICE). Several thousand people with disabilities and businesses were trained on the ADA.

In 2005, Fortune One Company Wal-Mart, Inc. hired Deidre as the first Director of ADA Services. As ADA Director, she was responsible for helping to ensure that all Wal-Mart retail, transportation and distribution facilities remain in compliance with the ADA. Her expertise helped to shore up Wal-Mart’s reasonable accommodation programs for associates and customers. Under her leadership, Diversity Inc. as a top employer of persons with disabilities recognized Wal-Mart. (2010-2012)

Deidre’s professional career started in 1980 – the International Year of the Disabled – at Rehabilitation International in New York, N.Y. There, she advocated before the United Nations for worldwide accessibility. She then transitioned to New Jersey as an attorney with the (then known as) Public Advocate’s Office of Advocacy for the Disabled. She next served as Union County NJ’S Director of Disability while practicing general law with her late father and representing persons from her community.

Deidre was a Board of Directors member of the National Council on Independent Living for 1985-87. She was the Chair of the minority committee and National Secretary.

In March 2012, after retiring from Wal-Mart she founded DYSability Dynamics Inc. LLC a disability diversity consultant company. Deidre has a unique perspective on the dynamics of disability, always lead by IL values. She still maintains her with role in IL by serving on the Board of Directors of Sources CIL of Fayetteville, AR. and as a general member of the National Council of Independent Living.

A is a graduate from Linden (NJ) High School, Brandeis University (MA) and Howard University School of Law (DC).

Stacey Park

Originally from North Carolina, Stacey served on the North Carolina Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) and was a former American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) intern. She was a fixture of disability activism in the Bay Area after moving there in 2010. A co-founder of the Disability Justice Culture Club, Stacey coordinated direct aid to disabled people and other marginalized groups during emergencies like the 2019 PG&E power shutoffs in the Bay Area and the current COVID-19 pandemic. Stacey’s activism was truly intersectional in nature, addressing overlapping systems of oppression and all facets of a human being, including disability, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and immigration status. Her commitment to disability justice as a queer disabled woman of color was unparalleled.

Stacey’s leadership in the now defunct National Youth Leadership Network fostered a generation of young disabled activists. She was a recipient of NCIL’s Diana Viets Memorial award in 2006. Most recently, she headed the impact campaign for the film Crip Camp along with fellow disabled woman of color Andraéa LaVant.

Stacey was unapologetic in holding organizations that are both led by and in service to the disability community, including NCIL, accountable to identify and address how their systems exclude multiply marginalized people. Our recent communication regarding ongoing work around racial justice would not have been possible without the groundwork she laid.

Stacey’s absence will be felt throughout NCIL and the rest of the disability community. It feels so unfair that we must present this award to Stacey posthumously. Stacey should have had so many more years of advocacy and power to share with us, but we also know that her work and her words have impacted so many people and laid the groundwork for it to continue in her name. I am honored to present the Max Starkloff Lifetime Achievement Award to Stacey Park. Here to accept the award on her behalf is Yomi Wrong and I’m so happy that Stacey’s family was able to join us today, too.


More than ever, our sponsors are crucial to ensuring a successful conference. We’d like to thank our 2020 sponsors, not only for supporting us, but for sticking with us during these uncertain times. Your patience with us as we pivoted to a virtual conference is a testament to your commitment to NCIL and our mission. There are truly no words to express how much we appreciate you. None of us know what the next year is going to look like, but we hope that you’ll continue to support NCIL as we navigate these uncertain times. We hope that we will all be together again, whether physically or virtually, in 2021.

Soldier for Justice

  • Anthem
  • Centene


  • Walmart


  • Verizon
  • Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
  • Revolutionary
  • Waymo

Mover & Shaker

  • May Mobility
  • Ability360
  • Microsoft


  • Humana
  • Coca-Cola
  • WITH Foundation
  • Molina Healthcare


  • Tracfone Wireless
  • Progressive Independence
  • Clear2Connect
  • National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology