The Development Committee has put together an outstanding and dynamic Board for The
Arc of Illinois. Well done!


The Arc of Illinois Development Committee

SUBJECT: 2015 Slate of Board of Directors Nominees

In accordance with The Arc of Illinois By-Laws, the Development Committee is presenting
the following slate of nominees for The Arc of Illinois Board of Directors at their Annual
Meeting on April 23, 2015 at The Arc of Illinois Annual Convention. The election will be
held at the June 8, 2015 Board Meeting for terms beginning July 1, 2015.

The Development Committee is recommending 2 people for two-year terms and 7 people
for three year terms.

Heather Clark, Zion (NEW)

– Heather is an active self-advocate affiliated with Self Advocates of Lake County, an
Alliance Chapter. She also serves of The Alliance Board of Directors. Heather has
completed two years of Junior College at the College of Lake County. She is past
President of the NorthPointe Consumer Council of NorthPointe Resources, where she
helps organize fundraisers and events. She is a member of NorthPointe’s Theater Group,
The Smile Mark Players, and enjoys reading and writing poetry. (3 year term)

Charlotte Cronin, Peoria

– Charlotte was first elected to The Arc of Illinois Board of Directors in April, 2012. She is
the mom of Daniel, 2 9, who has significant disabilities and Anna who is 26. Charlotte
graduated from the first class of Partners in Policymaking in 1991. She served on the
Family Support Network since its inception in 1991 and as its Director from 1996 to 2011.
She has worked with people with disabilities, their loved ones, service providers,
advocacy organizations, policy makers, and legislators so that people with disabilities
have the resources necessary to live happy, productive lives in their home communities.
Charlotte has served on a number of local and state boards, councils and committees.
Charlotte Co-Chairs The Arc’s Nominating Committee. (3 year term)

Amy Newell, Winnebago (NEW)

– Amy is the Executive Director of The Arc of Winnebago, Boone & Ogle Counties in
Rockford, IL. Amy worked for many years for the City of Rockford Human Services
Department, the local Community Action Agency. A mother of two and an active
community volunteer, Amy is thankful to be working for TheArc and making a difference
every day. Amy states, “I have a desire to work with legislators to move forward the
cause of people with I DD in the criminal justice system. I feel there needs to be better
education for all levels of the process whether dealing with victims or suspects.” (3 year

Vicki Niswander, Mahomet

– Vicki was first elected to The Arc of Illinois Board of Directors in April, 2009. She is the
parent of an adult daughter with a disability. She is also Executive Director of the Illinois
Association of Microboards and Cooperatives, a program which promotes and
facilitates the development of Microboards and Human Service Cooperatives as self-
directed alternatives to traditional services for people with disabilities. Vicki recently
completed eight years of service on her local Board of Education, and has participated in
and collaborated with many organizations, both local and statewide. She is a founding
Board member of the Community Choices
Cooperative in Champaign, and a former member of the Illinois Council on
Developmental Disabilities. Vicki also hosts a weekly public affairs program called
Disability Beat on WEFT-FM 90.1 Champaign ( (3 year term)

Robert Okazaki, Park Ridge

– Bob was first elected to The Arc Board of Directors in April, 2013. Bob began his
career in the field of developmental disabilities as a direct
support professional and has held a variety of positions in the field before becoming the
Executive Director of Avenues to Independence in 1983. H
e has served as Chair of The Arc’s Executive Forum (formerly the Illinois Conference
of Executives of The Arc) and as past chair of the Institute on Public Policy for People
with Disabilities. He is currently on the board of the Institute on Public Policy and is a
member of the Lions Club of Park Ridge. Bob serves on The Arc’s Finance Committee.
(2 year term)

Cristina Perez, Chicago (NEW)

– Cristina received her BA from the University of Chicago in 2009 and is currently
working on her Masters in Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. She
is a Graduate Intern with the Heartland
Alliance Policy & Advocacy Team and is also a trainee with the Illinois Leadership
Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Training Program. Cristina has
anolder brother with autism and feels her family’s experiences moving from Puerto Rico
to Texas and navigating services for her brother has been instrumental in deciding her life
perspective and professional trajectory. She states, “I want to help protect and develop
structures, services and relationships that can help support families like mine and
individuals like my brother.” (3 year term)

Dorelia Rivera, Elmwood Park (NEW)

– Dorelia is a mother of a young lady with a rare disease and a former staff member of the
Family Support Network. Since leaving FSN, she has had extensive experience in various
leadership roles with non-profit organizations and the state. She worked for the Illinois
Department of Human Services where she analyzed and developed policy, as well as led
strategy. Currently, she is a Director in Government Programs for Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Dorelia is an ardent advocate for people with disabilities. She is also a Veteran. Dorelia
serves on the Chicago Community Trust PWD Board and the Autoinflammatory Alliance
Board. She leads a Girl Scout troop and also has volunteered as a speaker, fund raiser
and wish granter with Make A Wish for over 10 years.
(3 year term)

Leanne Roth, Park Forest (NEW)

– Leanne is Co-Director of the National Technical Assistance Center for Voting and
Cognitive Access, the Organizational Coordinator for the Illinois Self Advocacy Alliance and
works as a Quality Enhancement Specialist with CQL. She worked for SouthStar Services in
Chicago Heights, IL for 14 years and has worked with The Arc in statewide efforts to
improve the lives of people with disabilities as advisor to the Ray of Hope Self Advocates
group for 9 years. Leanne has a Bachelors degree in Psychology and a Masters in
Healthcare Administration. Leanne states her passion is training people who work with
people with disabilities to support those they serve to achieve their best possible life, and
she is honored to be asked to serve on The Arc Board. (3 year term)

Paula Vanier, Urbana –

Paula was first elected to The Arc Board of Directors in April, 2008. Paula works part-time
at PACE, the local Center for Independent Living, as the personal assistant trainer. Paula
has Cerebral Palsy an
d has a strong desire to advocate for herself and others with disabilities. She currently
serves on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Association of Microboards and
Cooperatives and has been a charter member of her local Cooperative, Community
Choices, Inc. Paula also serves on several local committees including Disability Resource
EXPO – reaching out for answers. (2 year term)

The Arc of Illinois Development Committee submits the following nominees for officer
positions for the fiscal year terms July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2017 (2 years):

Therese Devine, President
Sherri Schneider, Secretary
Steve Manning, Vice President
Merlin Lehman, Treasurer

Therese Devine, Orland Park

-Terri was first elected to The Arc Board in May, 1999. She is the current Vice President
on The Arc Board of Directors. Terri recently completed nine years as a member of the
Illinois State Advisory Council on the Education of Children with Disabilities, the last three as
Chairperson. She has served as a member of the Illinois Due Process Screening Committee
and is currently on ISBE’s Assessment Committee for Students with Disabilities. She also
serves on the board of United Parent Support for Down Syndrome (UPS for DownS).
Though not currently practicing, Terri is an attorney and a “stay-at-home” mother of three.
She has also served as Chair of The Arc’s Development Committee. (2 year term)

Steve Manning, Orland Park

– Steve was first elected to The Arc Board in April, 2011. He is the current Treasurer on
The Arc Board of Director s. Steve is the parent of a
daughter with developmental disabilities. He worked at Park Lawn as Finance Director for
seven years and also as a consultant for Southwest Community Services. Steve said that
he enjoys working with a group of people who have the singular mission of protecting and
improving the rights and opportunities for persons with intellectual and developmental
disabilities. He currently Chairs The Arc’s Finance Committee. (2 year term)

Sherri Schneider, Buffalo Grove

– Sherri was first elected to The Arc of Illinois Board in April, 2010. She is the current
Secretary on The Arc Board of Directors. Sherri has over 30 years’ experience working
with families and individuals who have special
needs. She helps to ensure that everyone can obtain, understand, and sustain all of the
government benefits for which they appear eligible. She also links them to other
professionals to ensure life-long planning is in place. Sherri is president of Family Benefit
Solutions and she does over 80 presentations a year to family groups and professionals.
She is the only non-attorney on faculty of the IICLE – Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal
Eligibility. Sherri has a son, Zach ary (22), who was born ten weeks early with special
needs and a daughter, Aimee. She also serves on The Arc Convention Committee.
(2 year term)

Merlin Lehman, Bloomington

– Merlin is a retired actuary, who was first elected to The Arc of Illinois Board of Directors
in April, 2011. He is the parent of a son with developmental disabilities, who is currently
transitioning from living at a state operated development center to a CILA home in
Bloomington. Merlin has served as Chair of the Community and Residential Services
Authority and the 2007 CILA Rates Committee. He has been a member of the Illinois
Council on Developmental Disabilities and a board member of Central Illinois Service
Access and his local Advocate Hospitals. He has also served as parent representative to
the Statewide Advisory Council on DD and is a member of the current CILA Rates
Committee. He serves on The Arc’s Public PolicyCommittee. (2 year term)

Brian Rubin, Buffalo Grove

– Immediate Past President. Brian is the father of Mitch Rubin, now 32, who has Autism.
Brian was first elected to The Arc Board in April, 2004. He was appointed Vice President
of the Board in September, 2010, and served two terms as Board President. He is an
attorney whose practice, for the past 30 years, has been limited to Special Needs Legal
and Future Planning. Brian currently serves on The Arc’s Development Committee, Public
Policy Committee and Convention Committees.
(2 year term)

Jacki Neil Boss, Belvidere

– Second Past President – Jacki has served on The Arc of Illinois Board since June, 1996.
She was Board President from 2008 – 2011. The currently serves on The Arc’s Finance
Committee. Jacki has been advocating for services for people with developmental
disabilities for over 30 years. She was Executive Director of The Arc of Winnebago Boone
and Ogle Counties in Rockford, IL. Jacki is now retired and lives in Belvidere with her
husband, John, 2 dogs and 3 cats. Her son, Alex, lives in a CILA home a few miles away in
Rockford. (2 year term)

A list of current Board Members whose terms are not expiring and who will serve The Arc
of Illinois as Directors follows. ( ) indicates the number of years remaining on current terms.

Allan Bell (2)
Meg Cooch (1)
Nora Fox Handler (1)
Halima Jabulani (1)
Jennifer Knapp (1)
Bob Peterson (2)
Benji Rubin (2)
Kyle Rick, Executive Forum President

Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)
815-464-1832 (CELL)

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