Mon - Thurs: 9:00am - 5:00pm | Fri: 9:00am - 4:00pm

Staff

Suzanne Aaron, CRS-A/D

Suzanne is an Information and Outreach Specialist for the Illinois Life Span program for Northern Illinois. She has worked and volunteered in the areas of disability advocacy and family support since 2008. She and her husband are the proud parents of a young adult with I/DD and Autism. Her passion is helping families access and understand services that are available to them so they are empowered to build an included and meaningful life with their loved one with disabilities. She is a 2018 graduate of Illinois Partners in Policymaking and has navigated disability services in the states of Illinois, Ohio and Indiana.

Illinois Life Span Information & Outreach Specialist

Susan Agrawal, PhD

Susan is a parent, advocate, and writer who began serving as the Director of the Family-to-Family Health (F2F) Information Center in 2024, assisting families of children and young adults with disabilities and special healthcare needs to navigate the health care and disability systems in Illinois. She has lived experience through her daughter Karuna, who had multiple disabilities and complex health issues throughout her eleven years of life. Susan is the founder of MFTD Waiver Families and spent more than a decade advocating for children in the Medically Fragile Technology Dependent Waiver. In addition, she is an independent researcher on children’s Medicaid waivers and programs, including the website Kids’ Waivers. In the past, she has also contributed content to a wide range of disability organizations, including Complex Child Magazine and Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation. She holds a PhD from Northwestern University, where she used to serve as a Lecturer in Music Studies before switching her focus to advocacy.

Project Director, Family to Family Health Information Center

Ruth Aguilar, QIDP

Ruth Aguilar has over fifteen years of combined experience advocating for people with disabilities. She holds a B.S Psychology from the Illinois Institute of Technology and Professional Graduate Studies in Non-Profit from Harvard University. Ruth’s professional experience stems from working previously in an ISC Agency and then as a Self-Directed Assistant serving the community with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Moreover, with her personal expertise as a mother of a teen girl with Rett Syndrome and Seizure Disorder, Ruth brings a wealth of knowledge to the families by assisting them in how to obtain services and understanding their options by being assertive, yet professional. Ruth is inspired by her husband and her daughter to be a servant leader who helps those around her without hesitation.

Senior Ligas Family Advocate

Shakari Asbury

Shakari collaborates with organizations that focus on underserved communities and individuals with I/DD, among other duties. She keeps the team focused and in touch with diverse audiences, ensuring our materials are understandable.

Family Support Network & Ligas Family Advocate

Heidi Booth, MBA

Heidi joins The Arc of Illinois with over 15 years of experience in Marketing and Event Management. Her professional expertise has prepared her for the successful execution of events and outreach activities as well as marketing initiatives to build awareness and social media presence. She carries a Marketing undergraduate degree and MBA from Northern Illinois University. A mom of a daughter with a disability, she is passionate about advocating for all individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She is dedicated to providing all people a happy and productive life to serve in our community.

Marketing & Communications Manager

Vicki Borlin

Vicki Borlin is dedicated to helping families find resources that enable them to navigate the sometimes difficult world of raising a child with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.  She holds a public relations degree from the University of Central Missouri.  Vicki is also a 2023 UIC LEND  (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities) graduate. She has a two children, one of whom has a genetic disorder, autism and special healthcare needs.  Raising a child with disabilities spurred her to become her daughter’s biggest advocate and has taught her how to keep fighting for what is best for her children.

Illinois Life Span Information & Outreach Specialist

Annie Bruno, MSW, LCSW, QIDP

Annie Bruno is the Ligas Family Advocate for Central & Southern Illinois. She holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Illinois in Social Work and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, as well as a Qualified Intellectual Disabilities Professional. Annie has over fifteen years of experience working with individuals with disabilities and their families. She has spent time as a Service Facilitator in the Home Based program and as an Independent Service Coordinator at an ISC agency. Annie has a background in consulting and is passionate about assisting families with navigating complex service systems and connecting to available resources. 

Ligas Family Advocate Central & Southern Illinois

Amie Lulinski, PhD, FAAIDD

Dr. Lulinski has worked with and for individuals who have IDD and their families since 1995 when she began her career as a Direct Support Professional in central Illinois after graduating from Illinois Wesleyan University with a BA in psychology. Since then, she has served in various roles in Illinois, Missouri, and the Washington, DC metropolitan area ranging from Individual Service Coordinator to Director of Research and Evaluation at The Arc of the United States. Amie is currently serving as the Executive Director of The Arc of Illinois. Previously, she served as Project Director for the State of the States in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Project at the University of Colorado. Amie was the 2011 Disability Policy Fellow at the Association of University Centers for Excellence and received her PhD in Disability Studies in 2014 from University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Disability and Human Development, where she is an Adjunct Assistant Research Professor. Her research interests include deinstitutionalization, the home and community- based Medicaid waiver program, and mental and behavioral health needs of people with IDD. Amie served as a member of the board directors of the American Association for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities from 2018-2022.

Executive Director

Faye Manaster, M.Ed.

Faye has been with The Arc of Illinois for over 13 years. Her unique qualifications include over forty years of professional experience in the areas of special education, family support, early intervention, and public health. Faye is the parent of an adult daughter who is deafblind, and has cerebral palsy. She became involved as a volunteer with Family Voices, Inc., our national umbrella organization, in 1992 based on her experiences as the parent of an uninsured child with multiple special healthcare needs.

Illinois Life Span Information Specialist

Troy

Troy Markert

Troy has worked at the Division of Developmental Disabilities and brings problem-solving expertise for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, working closely with our Advocacy Liaison.

Family Advocate Specialist

Karin Mentzer

Karin Mentzer started at The Arc of Illinois in December 2018 as an administrative assistant. Previously, she worked as a paraprofessional at Elim Christian School for almost five years in both the elementary and middle school settings. Karin became the office manager in April 2020, where she assists with our daily office needs, memberships, various stipend programs, and assisting The Arc of Illinois’ other programs as needed.

Office Manager

Rocio Perez, MSW, LCSW,
CRS-A/D

Rocio is Director of the Illinois Life Span Program. She is married and has two adult children. Her oldest is an adult with Autism.  Her background in Social Work complements her lifelong goal for her son Tony to have as many choices as possible. Prior to joining, The Arc of Illinois, Rocio worked at well-known not for profits such as Metropolitan Family Services, Community Support Services, and Community Alternatives Unlimited.  She has worked for the Arc of IL since December 2018.  She started out working for both The Illinois Life Span Program and The Family to Family Information Center where she was mentored by Deb Fornoff and Faye Manaster.   She moved over full time to The Illinois Life Span Program in 2019 and was promoted to Assistant Director in 2020.    Today, she is the Director of the Life Span Program and looks forward to continuing the legacy of Ms. Fornoff and her co-workers.

La Sra Perez es casada y tiene dos hijos adultos. Su mayor es un adulto con autismo.  Su experiencia en el campo de Servicio Social complementa su objetivo de toda la vida de que su hijo Tony tenga tantas opciones como sea posible. Antes de unirse al Arc of Illinois, Rocío trabajó en conocidas empresas sin fines de lucro como Metropolitan Family Services, Community Support Services y Community Alternatives Unlimited. Ella ha trabajado para el Arc of Illinois desde diciembre de 2018.  Comenzó a trabajando para the Illinois Life Span Program  y El Centro de Información de Salud. Sus mentores han sido Las Sras. Deb Fornoff y Faye Manaster.   En 2019, se dedico tiempo completo al Programa Life Span de Illinois y fue promovida a directora asistente en 2020.    Hoy en día, es la Directora del Programa Life Span y espera continuar el legado de la Sra. Fornoff y sus compañeros de trabajo.

Illinois Life Span Program Director

Shirley Perez

Shirley A. Perez is the Program Director of the Ligas Family Advocate Program and the Family Support Network. Ms. Perez has thirty-five plus years of advocating and working with individuals and their families with disabilities. She is a business graduate of Metropolitan Business College and Kaplan University. She operated her own business, worked at an ISC Agency where she advocated for and assisted families in locating services by navigating the State system. In conjunction with the City of Chicago, Federal Home Loan Bank and The Illinois Housing Development Authority, she implemented a home-buying program for individuals with developmental and physical disabilities. She has worked as a Special Project Advocate with the Illinois Life Span Project; met with families/guardians to explain the transition process and listen to their concerns as their family members’ transition into the community from State Operated Developmental Centers.

She currently serves on various Department of Human Services Committees and is an active volunteer in both her community and church. She is the proud mother of an adult daughter (Tamekia), who lives in the community. Tamekia is diagnosed with multiple disabilities, intellectually and developmentally delayed. She is non-verbal, diagnosed with Autism and suffers from a seizure disorder. Ms. Perez’s passion for advocacy is fueled by her desire to help her daughter and others with disabilities reach their full potential. Her philosophy is, “everyone can succeed with the right support!” She can be contacted at shirley@thearcofil.org.

Ligas Family Advocate Program Director

Family Support Network Director

Carole Rosen
M.A.I.D., C.A.P.S.

Carole’s diverse background in advocacy includes having served as The Going Home Coalition Manager at The Arc of Illinois and is currently an Advocacy Program Specialist. Carole served as a Governor appointed member to The Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities from 2014 until 2020. While serving on the Council, she served on its Executive Committee and chaired the Community Housing and Inclusion Committee. Additionally, she serves on the board of Collaborative Community Housing Initiative, a grassroots collective comprised of families who have young adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Carole has served on New Trier Township’s Funding Committees and has organized community-wide events promoting affordable community-supported inclusive accessible housing. Her driving belief is that Community is strengthened by diversity and inclusion. In addition to her Masters of Interior Design degree, she is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist with additional coursework in Universal Design. Additionally, Carole became certified as a Financial Wellness Trainer for people with disabilities through the National Disability Institute. She is an award-winning photographer with work having been shown in numerous regional and national photography exhibitions. Carole and her husband, William, have a daughter who has developmental disabilities and a nondisabled son.

Advocacy Program Specialist

Becca Schroeder

Rebecca Schroeder joined The Arc of Illinois in January 2019. She previously worked at the McGaw YMCA Children’s Center as their Admissions and Data Manager, where she was responsible for registration and billing, and worked with state agencies, the local university, and other organizations to help families receive financial assistance. This experience has helped her as the Events/Marketing Manager at The Arc of Illinois where she continues to provide her expertise with marketing, training events and data management. Rebecca moved up to Director of Development in July 2021. She is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago.

Director of Development

Elian Sorensen

Elian is the Going Home Coalition Coordinator at The Arc of Illinois and continues to work part-time as a research associate for World Enabled/The Pineda Foundation, a disability consulting non-profit working to promote accessible and inclusive urban design. Elian recently graduated summa cum laude from Hamilton College with a BA in Public Policy, where he completed his senior thesis on the potential for disability theory to inform elder advocacy efforts and improve long-term care services for older adults. While at Hamilton, Elian founded the college’s first Disabled Students’ Network and served as the organization’s president for two years, where he worked to develop a peer mentoring program for students with academic accommodations, promote accessibility improvements on campus, and build community for other disabled students. Most recently, Elian participated in the American Association of People with Disabilities internship program where he interned at the Administration for Community Living Office of Policy Analysis and Development. Elian also serves as the Student Chair for the American Public Health Association Disability Section Mentoring Program, where he helps connect students and early career professionals with disabilities with established mentors in the fields of disability and public health.

Going Home Coalition Coordinator

Tiffany Steinhauser, M.Ed., CRS-A/D

Tiffany has been a special educator for 21 years in Quincy, Illinois. Advocacy is something that is close to her heart and has led her to spend her life teaching, advocating, and supporting parents.  As an educator of children with disabilities for many years, she has found there to be a huge need for more family resources and supports.

Tiffany is a parent to two children. In her free time, her husband and she both enjoy camping and boating. Tiffany also enjoys reading and being outdoors.

Tiffany holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Special Education from Quincy University (IL) and a Master’s Degree in Education Administration from Williams Wood University (MO).

Illinois Life Span Information & Outreach Specialist

Kim Swanson

Kim Swanson has previously worked at the American Cancer Society as a Senior Coordinator, supporting many events raising money for the fight against cancer, including athletic events and galas. She recently moved to Illinois to help take care of her mom. She loves volunteering wherever needs to help make a difference. She has four grown children who live all over the country and loves to travel and spend time with them. Kim holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Advertising from Northern Illinois University.

Events & Outreach Coordinator

Gregory Walkington

Greg is an accomplished Operations Manager with 35+ years of experience in nonprofit leadership and program development, particularly as it relates to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Greg’s experience ranges from direct, hands-on training in life skills enrichment programs to managing supports for over 400+ people with IDD across four divisions, four congregate work sites, and over 20 community-integrated living arrangements.

Importantly, Greg has a very unique relationship to his work that drives his passion for advocacy. As a father of an adult child who has physical and intellectual disabilities resulting in high support needs, Greg truly understands the value of maximizing the quality of life through community involvement for people he supports by providing them with the necessary support structures to lead dignified and fulfilling lives.

Director of The Family Transition Project

Sabrina Wyman

Sabrina has a passion for advocating, ignited at a young age when they became the older sibling to Rachel, who has Down syndrome as an attribute. Sabrina has diverse experience in local, state, and federal politics ranging from health and education legislative policy, campaigning, and working with elected officials’ district offices for outreach events to improve voter turnout. Paired with becoming disabled as a young adult, Sabrina is passionate about policy that supports people with disabilities.

Legislative Advocacy Coordinator