About the Disability Achievement Team
The Board and Management of the center have raised the bar and have recruited the best in the field to serve consumers in Pinellas and Pasco counties. The Disability Achievement Center seeks dedication, determination and expertise from those who join its team. Each person has personal as well as professional experience with disability. Many are living examples and mentors to the centers consumers of what people with disabilities can achieve.
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As a Consumer Services Specialist at the Disability Achievement Center, Ashley started in September of 2013. She loves working with people and helping those in need. She has an Associate Degree in Business Administrative from Columbia, South Carolina and intends on continuing her education. She moved to Florida in June of 2013 and loves it. Her hobbies include: swimming, shopping, and playing with her dog.
Cheria Edwards joined the Disability Achievement Center in January of 2018. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from University of South Florida and Master’s Degree in Human Services from the College of Springfield, Tampa, Florida. Cheria have a passion for helping others and enjoy seeing them progress to independence. She has over 10 years’ experience advocating for youth in the areas of person centered planning, education, and employment. Cheria has been an Outreach Workforce Specialist at Goodwill Industries and worked as a Youth Employment Counselor at Boley Centers responsible for placement. She has additional experience in teaching interpersonal and professional work ethics skills and soft skills training needed to maintain career employment and has taught employability skills training
Jody has been a Pinellas County resident since 1999. She graduated from University of Central Florida with a degree in Adult Education while working as a Training Instructor for USAirways. After 18 years, she left USAirways to attend Stetson University College of Law where she concurrently earned her juris doctorate and MBA degrees. Just before graduating, Jody was appointed to fill a vacant Commission seat for the Town of Redington Shores. She continued on to serve as Mayor, completing her final term in 2009. During her tenure, she represented the Town and the Barrier Island Governmental Council (BIG-C) on the boards of Pinellas County Tourist Development Council and Florida Shore & Beach Preservation Association (FSBPA). She also served on the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Board of Directors and Executive Committee during the business turnaround years and migrated to Chief Operating Officer in 2007 to implement operational changes and begin facility improvement construction projects. Currently, Jody is Chair of the Pinellas County Council for Persons with Disabilities, a Board Member of CareerSource Pinellas, and Outreach Chair for Community Service Council of West Pasco. Jody uses her talents to raise awareness in the community about Centers for Independent Living, and promotes access & inclusion for all with disabilities.
Joe joined the team in 2008 as a management consultant, and then Director of Independent Living Services. He was appointed Executive Director in April 2010. He has a Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology, from Old Dominion University, and did Masters Studies in Rehabilitation Counseling, at the University of Virginia. He has been in the disability rights and rehabilitation services field for 4
decades. His experience ranges from one to one work with individuals to managing, leading and directing large residential rehabilitation facilities. He has a background in Spinal Cord, Traumatic Brain Injury, Behavioral, Vocational and Independent Living programs. He has served as a consultant for the Commission for Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). This wide ranging depth of knowledge
makes him uniquely qualified to lead the Disability Achievement Center. Joe is a hands-on get in and work with the rest of the team kind of leader. He does not ask anyone to do a job he has not done himself. His experience gives him the ability to see the potentials of the future. He is always looking for the new approach, the new technology or the new idea that will put the Center ahead of the game.
Julia is a mother of 5 beautiful children. Julia has returned to her old stomping grounds at Disability Achievement Center after setting up her own business and caring for her children. Julia continues to be heavily involved in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community and within the Disability Community serving in various capacities: as a facilitator, volunteer, advocate, board member, Officer of the Board of various entities, etc. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelors in Anthropology and will be able to continue her love of Culture and Advocacy via her work with Disability Achievement Center. Julia returns as the facilitator for Pasco County and the Deaf/Hard of Hearing program.
Kim joined our team in June 2016. She has a Master of Arts Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio. With over four decades of experience she takes pride in empowering individuals. Kim has expertise in program development and enjoys being a part of the successful outcomes. She successfully introduced Pinellas County in 2009 to the High School High Tech program promoting preparatory experiences, connecting activities and work based experiences with emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math/medicine focusing on youth ages 14 to 22. She is excited to be a member of the independent philosophy and brings expertise in youth programming, advocacy and leadership.
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Laurie joined Disability Achievement Center in July 2011 after an extended career in insurance and financial services. Laurie has transitioned from the business to the non-profit world where she now serves as our Office Manager. She assists management and staff in daily operations, is responsible for Human Resources and payroll functions, provides hands-on development of our online fundraising program and oversees our Volunteer Program. Laurie holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Secondary Education from the State University College at Potsdam, NY.
Nicole Reed began her employment with the Center in March, 2012. However, her vast knowledge of informational technology, business and public relations has been vital to the Center’s operations for over 15 years. As the Director of Program Services, she has worked to make each program more effective and organized. She is responsible for the supervision of all Independent Living Facilitators and program
operations. In addition, she has had a lifelong education and exposure to advocacy for individuals with disabilities. She brings a unique and tremendously valuable perspective to the team.
Vickie joins us from Illinois. With her dream of moving to Florida realized she began focusing on her next goal. After spending the last decade in the private sector she has decided to return to her true passion. Advocacy. Vickie held the position of Supported Employment Site Supervisor, at Clearbrook, Inc. and served as a Community Living Case Manager at Resources of Community Living, both of which people with developmental disabilities. She has also worked with the homeless, substance abusers, and domestic violence survivors. Vickie earned her Associates Degree in Addiction Studies from College of DuPage, and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Services.
Richard joined the Disability Achievement Center Team in November of 2017. He and his wife, Donna, relocated to Florida from their lifelong home in Rhode Island to be closer to their son and grandchildren.
Richard possesses both a Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Accounting from Bryant College. Along with his education, he has over twenty years of experience in the private sector as Accounting Manager, Cost Accounting Manager and Plant Controller. In addition, Richard worked for the State of Rhode Island for twenty years before retiring last December. He held accounting positions as a Revenue Officer in the Tax Department, Supervising Accountant in the State Controller’s Office and as an Administrator, Financial Management in the Department of Transportation. The combination of profit and not for profit experience will allow Richard to both guide and lead Disability Achievement Center’s accounting function from a duel perspective.
Richard is very passionate towards those individuals needing help or wanting to improve themselves. He enthusiastically shares his accounting and systems knowledge with co-workers. Also, after earning the rank of Black Belt in both Jiu Jitsu and Kempo Karate, Richard volunteered to instruct children and women with free self- defense classes. He totally enjoys seeing people become self -sufficient. That belief is in line with the goal of Disability Achievement Center to assist persons to gain or maintain independence at home, work and in all aspects of community life.