Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC)

CCDC advocates for Social Justice for people with all types of disabilities.

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Stacy Yusim, Community Organizer
Start Date: 2018

Stacy participated in the Summer 2017 CCDC Basic Advocacy Class to learn about disability rights in Colorado. She had recently moved to Denver from Illinois where she had worked for over 13 years as a manager for The Training Institute on Disability in Chicago.
After successfully completing CCDC Basic Advocacy Class and becoming a CCDC certified non-attorney Advocate, Stacy quickly started using her skills by representing CCDC on three committees. She helped the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's Office of Health Equity create a product for health providers which highlights community wellness data. She is also on the Prime Health Safety Net Advisory Board and was on the Paid Sick Days Exploratory Committee. Currently, she is using her skills as a Trainer to Coordinate a First Responder training for those interacting with individuals having behavioral health crises for The Center for Public Health Practice.
Her volunteer work at CCDC helped get her the job. As a person with a disability herself, Stacy has lupus. Stacy says she is proud to be part of the strong advocacy community in her new home in Colorado. Finding new parks to enjoy with her dog, Aggie, live music in small spaces and baking with recipes from vintage cooks and cookbooks are some of her favorite things.

Shannon Secrest, Regional Community Organizer, Health Policy & Disability Systems Advocate
Start Date: 2018

Shannon is a working, single mother of two and an activist. Her children qualify for and rely on Medicaid. Medicaid helps her afford all of the necessary services her son needs to cope with his eight diagnoses. She heads our partnership with CCHI and CCLP in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Consumer Advocacy for Transformation project in Colorado.

Ron Hutter, Events & Training Assistant
Start Date: 2016

Ron Hutter joined the CCDC staff in 2016, after almost two decades of volunteer work with the organization. Ron has previous experience as a transportation assistant at the Cherry Creek School district where he accompanied children with disabilities on school busses, secured them in their seats and when necessary secured mobility devices. He was then promoted and was an assistant at their Options program and was responsible for checking, cleaning and restocking books.

His retirement freed him up to spend more time as our part-time Events Assistant. He is also a volunteer member of the Board of Directors of The Arc of Aurora. Very active in Special Olympics, Ron has numerous medals from competitions in many different events. Ron lives in Aurora and helps care for other family members who also have disabilities.

Ron won the CCDC Dan Davidson Award for Inclusion in Employment in July 2011. In one of our first interviews with Ron, we asked Ron, why he wants to help others so much - knowing that so many in our society are not interested in supporting neighbors, coworkers, or even family members. He was shocked at the question and said that helping people when he can, how he can and where he can is just who he is-a core component of his personality. Anyone who has met Ron will know this to be true. We cannot remember any CCDC event since Ron started volunteering with CCDC where he has not come in cheerfully and asked what he can do to help-and whatever it is that is asked he does it with a smile. He says helping people and being part of the workforce is important to him. Ron explains that his favorite quote is the CCDC's very own: Nothing about Us, Without Us.
Ron has several hobbies. His family has owned an auto repair shop since the 60's so fixing stuff was probably in his blood. He took apart his first carburetor at age six. He also likes to work on computers and loves trucks. His other big hobby is sports and he has participated in Special Olympics since he was eight years old. He does cross country skiing, snow shoes, bowling, cycling, golf, and swimming.
I asked him what is different for kids today than it was for him as a child, growing up with a disability. He said that when he was a child most disabled children were institutionalized. He proudly mentioned that his parents would "never let that happen". He was proud that the school district he works for, (Cherry Creek) has been recognized for having quality programs for children with disabilities.
CCDC member Donna Sablan presented the Davidson Award to Ron in 2011 and referred to him as a hero. Ron said "I don't see myself as a hero-I don't know what it is like to be without a disability. I only know my life as it is and I like my life."
Ron was honored with the Davidson award because he is a perfect role model for a modern person with a disability. He will advocate for himself and others as needed, and does not see his disability as a reason to be less than anyone else. He is proud of taking extra responsibilities at work as needed. While he has always been fully integrated at work, he has not distanced himself from the disability community, rather he embraces it. Too many of us have acted as if integration must be all or nothing. Folks who get mainstream jobs often distance themselves from the disability community-conversely some of us in the disability community are too insular and do not venture outside of our world enough. Ron strikes the perfect balance and is a role model. He does not separate who he is from his disability and does not see his disability as a deficit.

Michelle McHenry-Edrington, Individual Advocacy Coordinator
Start Date: 2016

Michelle McHenry-Edrington joined the Individual Advocacy team as the Advocacy Coordinator at CCDC in July 2016, having most recently been with Bayaud Enterprises. Michelle is a native of Texas and veteran of the United States Air Force USAFE. She was a researcher at the Burnes Institute on Poverty and Homelessness at DU. She is an active member of C-PAWW (Canines Providing Assistance to Wounded Warriors) and Veterans Voices, which is a mental health advisory board for the Denver VA. Listed among her credits is being one of the authors of the book, "Ending Homelessness." edited by Donald W. Burnes and David L. DiLeo.

Angela Nevin, Training and Communications Manager
Start Date: 2017

Angela Nevin's career path can be described as a unique and winding one - one that has brought her to a great home with CCDC as the new communications manager. She graduated from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley in the early 1990's with a degree in English and a Special Education endorsement. She then accepted the position of special education teacher at West Middle School in the Cherry Creek School District. She founded their first inclusive program for middle-school students with severe and profound needs. Years later living in Philadelphia in 2014, when David's Bridal downsized where she was a corporate trainer, Angela and her husband saw the opportunity to return to Colorado - long considered their home. Not wanting to work in the corporate world again, Angela returned to her roots with the disability community as a care partner in a residential home and eventually as an attendant in the Consumer Directed Attendant Support Services (CDASS) program. It was through CDASS that Angela was introduced to CCDC and eventually offered the position as the new communications manager in January 2017. In her role, she is building an online advocate training program (a companion to the Beginning Advocacy Training classes), is the administrator for the CCDC Advocates Forum, and manager of the CCDC disability Wiki project.

Julie Reiskin, CEO/Executive Director
Start Date: 1996

Julie Reiskin is the Executive Director of CCDC. Under Julie's leadership CCDC has taken a leadership role within Colorado on publicly funded long-term health care. Julie has proposed and helped to implement many solutions to create a sustainable and client friendly Medicaid program, acted as a respected advocate for individuals and has trained many others in health advocacy and health policy. Prior to becoming the Executive Director for CCDC in 1996, she served as CCDC's' policy analyst. Julie moved to Colorado from Connecticut in 1994. In Connecticut, she was a partner in a consulting firm, specializing in diversity issues throughout Southern New England. She also had a private psychotherapy practice. Julie has taught extensively in the areas of disability rights, disability culture and disability policy, along with other areas related to diversity in human services. Julie is an appointed member of the Obama Administration's Legal Services Board. She works in the position of CEO/Executive Director for CCDC as a volunteer.

Kevin Williams, Legal Program Director
Start Date: 1991

Kevin Williams is the director of the Legal Program for CCDC. In May of 1997, Kevin joined CCDC as counsel and, with the help of CCDC's members and a very small staff, began building the Legal Program. Kevin litigates in most areas of law, protecting the civil rights of people with disabilities, including the Americans with Disabilities Act; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act; the Fair Housing Act; the Air Carriers Access Act; and Colorado law. Kevin has been active with Colorado and federal legislation impacting people with disabilities, presented at conferences and seminars and has published on the topic of disability rights. Kevin chaired the Colorado Bar Association Disability Law Forum Committee for three years and hosted the Denver Disability Rights Roundtable for several years. Kevin graduated with honors from the University of Denver College of Law in 1996.

Although considers the place where he great up, the eastern suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, a great place to be from, he has made Colorado his home for many years. He would not have it any other way. He remains devoted to keeping Colorado one of the best places for people with disabilities to live. Kevin thanks the many champions of disability rights who came before him and proud to be a part of the community that will never let us turn the clock back on recognizing the humanity and equality of all people.

Jaime Lewis, Transit Advocate
Start Date: 2008

Jaime was a pioneer sportsman in the early 1980s. He completed and won a 62-mile ultra marathon before people recognized the new sport. Between 1998 - 2001 Jaime served as a city council person and mayor for the city of Salida, Colorado. Jaime is currently the vice president of Very Special Arts (VSA of Colorado), a nonprofit that promotes and displays art for disabled artists. Jaime recently was certified as a Lay Speaker for the United Methodist Church. He serves at churches in the Denver Metro area. Jaime gained notoriety by showing up to run a relay leg in the Colfax Marathon in the Summer of 2006. When his teammates did not show, Jaime ran the entire 26 miles himself!

Gabby Angelico, Legal Program Assistant
Start Date: 2018

Most recently before joining CCDC, Gabby was a Financial Recovery Specialist at Scheck & Siress Prosthetics. She received her BA from Otterbein University in Business Administration and Equine Science. After that, Gabby continued her education at Otterbein and got her MBA in consultative and project-based management and collegiate equestrian marketing. Since then, she has worked at several horse training facilities, most recently at the Healthy Horse Boutique in Carbondale, CO. While she has a demonstrated passion for horses, she is also passionate about disability rights and advocacy. She is active with the Association of Horizon, where she volunteers every summer, including this one!

Sheryle Hutter, Advanced Advocacy Training Coordinator
Start Date: 2008

Sheryle Hutter joined the CCDC staff as the advocacy support and training coordinator and has a long history of disability advocacy.

After 21 ½ years, she is retired from the Cherry Creek School District as the funded projects manager (program and fiscal manager for State and Federal grants) and is a public accountant by degree. She has many years of experience with small businesses and enjoys the world of antiques. She has previously served on the CCDC board of directors, is an advocate in many arenas, and most recently volunteered as the CCDC lead citizen lobbyist. Sheryle is also a member of the advocacy group PAD-CO (Parents of Adults with Disabilities in Colorado).

Sheryle is a strong advocate for cross disability philosophy. She has received awards for her dedication and determination from CCDC, the Colorado Developmental Disability Council, and through Cherry Creek Schools she received The Wendy DeBell Award for outstanding volunteerism.

Jose Torres-Vega, IT Manager & Non-Attorney Advocate
Start Date: 2013

Jose was born in Guatemala, Guatemala City during the Guatemalan Civil War. He was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at six months old. At age twelve, he had his first encounter with the war when his older sister and nephew were forced to leave Guatemala for their safety. At age seventeen his father was killed and Jose, his mother and younger sister had to hide. He lost all aspects of his life at that time including his house and his girlfriend. He joined the opposition to the government at this time. Jose and his family eventually fled to the U.S. for their safety and he began to advocate for the civil rights of the disabled. He joined ADAPT (Americans Disabled for Accessible Public Transit) and CCDC and advocated for the civil rights of people with disabilities. According to Jose, "In these last years I have met true friends, people who fight with the same passion and love. Now I have a whole new world of opportunities, like being invited to be trained by and work for CCDC. The best has been to be able to work for and with the disability community."

Heather Morrow, Assistant Advocacy Coordinator
Start Date: 2010

Heather is a young woman with Cerebral Palsy. She came to CCDC after hearing about the advocacy training. In her past, she had worked as a special education aide at Edison Elementary in North Denver. She became interested in advocacy because she was interested in learning to help people with disabilities. She completed the advocacy training and was certified in 2012 and served as a volunteer assistant to our former advocacy coordinator. Because of her exceptional work, Heather was hired to recruit and train people with developmental disabilities under a national level grant from the Association for University Centers on Disabilities. Heather has stayed on part time even after the grant ended. Heather also works for Disability Benefits Supports (DBS) an organization that CCDC helped to create to provide assistance to people seeking help with Social Security Disability and SSI applications. She works part-time with CCDC and part-time with Atlantis Community.

Kristen Castor, Lead Advocate
Start Date: 1998

Kristen Castor was born in Lakewood as a person with a disability and mainstreamed herself in Jefferson County schools simply because it never occurred to her family to do anything else. The price she paid was to ride a paratransit bus through Lakewood, Golden, and Wheatridge where she became friends with many of the original founders of the Atlantis Community on their way to Fletcher Miller, a school where children with disabilities were segregated from the general population. Determined to support herself, she obtained a bachelor's degree in the Classics from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and a master's degree in Linguistics from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She speaks French, German, some Spanish, and some Hebrew.

In order to build up her work history, she joined the Peace Corps and taught English as a Second Language (ESL) in Liberia, West Africa, from 1978 to 1981. Upon her return, she settled in Houston, Texas, and began forging a career in ESL when romance called her to Mexico. When this partnership failed, she returned to Denver and started over, working three and four part-time jobs and eventually obtaining a teaching certificate. When it became clear that she did not have the stamina to continue in public education, she turned to Wade Blank, who recommended that she apply for a position with the Atlantis Community in Colorado Springs in 1989. That began a return to her roots in disability rights and a migration to Pueblo through a number of different jobs before joining CCDC in 1998. Her official training is in eligibility for disability benefits. She has also championed the Americans with Disabilities Act since it was passed. She now serves as a non-attorney advocate for people appealing Medicaid denials.

Dawn Howard, Lead Community Organizer
Start Date: 2014

Dawn came up through the ranks at CCDC -- initially starting as an advocate and eventually being hired as a Volunteer Coordinator in 2014. She has an MLS in Library Science and a BS in Occupational Therapy. Dawn was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age two and her family was told that she would not have intelligible speech. Dawn likes to read and write poetry.

Donna Sablan, Individual Advocacy Program Director
Start Date: 2000

Donna Sablan is a widow with three birth children and five step children. She supervises our advocates and acts as a job coach for our advocates and clients in the community. She came to CCDC in 2000 for help after being referred to us by another agency. Donna then started doing advocacy for CCDC in education with a mental health focus for children. She worked with Behavioral Health Organizations Family Advisory Councils and CCDC to help people in the community. In late 2006, Donna had a significant stroke and had to step back from helping others to take care of herself and do rehab. She still mentored new advocates and took a light caseload. In 2008, Donna had another big stroke and had to have major heart surgery. In 2010, she resumed her caseload with CCDC and began job coaching internally within the organization. Since that time, her giving back has grown. Due to a restructuring within the organization, Donna was needed to oversee individual advocacy. She has supported employment and she was brought into CCDC with this assistance. She accomplishes her job with assistance in the areas of writing and organization. Donna is able to contribute because of the community supports she receives so that she can help others to succeed.

Andrew Montoya, Attorney
Start Date: 2012

On January 1, 2012, Andrew Montoya joined CCDC's Legal Program as a full-time associate. In 2005, Andrew began working as CCDC's Legal Program Assistant. He left CCDC for a time to get his law degree from the Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, Florida. He returned to Colorado, took and passed the bar exam, and now holds the title of Legal Program Attorney. Andrew works on CCDC's civil rights cases and has developed many presentations regarding the laws CCDC enforces.

CCDC is very proud to have Andrew. He has always been an asset to our Legal Program, but, beyond that, he is doing excellent work as a lawyer. We are all pleased to have Andrew on board now as a full-time attorney, even if he does choose to live on the Wyoming border. We are also pleased to see and spend time with Nikki, Audrey, Katrina, and the rest of the family.

Marlene Murillo, Executive Assistant
Start Date: 2014

Bilingual in Spanish and English, Marlene joined CCDC in 2014 after working for more than two decades with the Catholic Archdiocese of Denver. She has extensive experience in working personally with people with all types of disabilities and has also been trained to work with families whose children have disabilities. She is responsible for assisting Julie Reiskin, Laura Gabbay and other members of the staff with disabilities.

Tom Carter, Receptionist
Start Date: 2008

Tom has been with CCDC since age 15 and graduated from the former CCDC Youth Program. Tom has a degree from PS 1 in Denver. Tom volunteered for many years before joining the staff as a paid employee. When not working at CCDC, Tom enjoys music, video games, spending time with his friends, and hanging out with his service dog Sam.

Lucinda Rowe, Community Organizer
Start Date: 2018

Lucinda Rowe is a mother who lives in Henderson, in Adams County. A 2017 graduate of our CCDC Basic Advocacy Course, Lucinda for the past year has been a Certified Non-Attorney Advocate who assists with outreach. In May 2018, she accepted the position of part-time community organizer spearheading our new Public Education Project, #Vote4Medicaid. This mother of three is also a full-time CNA for her 20-year-old daughter, Estrealla, who lives in their home, with severe Cerebral Palsy. PASCO Home Health employs Lucinda as well part-time to not only care for Estrealla, but also to work as a Family Liaison where she regularly attends community events to spread the word of the opportunities available to families with children, adults, and elderly with disabilities, as well as sharing about the benefits of becoming a free Member of CCDC. Lucinda's passion for advocacy for the disability community has also led her to become a Parent Advocate through a Children's Hospital training program. Lucinda continues to follow in her grandfather Juan Haro's footsteps, who was a prominent community organizer in the Latino community during the 1970's.

Laura Gabbay, Director of Evaluation & Development
Start Date: 2015

Laura joined CCDC in October 2015. Laura has 20 years of nonprofit and private foundation experience. Most recently, she was the Executive Director of Project WISE (a Women's Initiative for Service and Empowerment), a small grassroots mental health organization founded in 1995. She has her MBA from Columbia University in New York. She will be doing research and document/report preparation, as well as assisting everyone in their efforts to meet advocacy objectives.

Five years ago, she became one of the founding volunteer advisory board members of the Colorado Participation Project, an innovative non-partisan program supporting human service nonprofits to build their civic engagement and advocacy efforts. Laura's professional experience also includes positions with the Daniels Fund, Child Health Advocates/CHP+, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Laura holds her B.A. in Communications from Indiana University-Bloomington and graduated from Columbia University in New York with her MBA. She is the proud single mother of two children under the age of sixteen. In 2015, she graduated from the prestigious community service project, the Colorado Family Leadership Training Institute, hosted by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. In 2012, she was named the volunteer chair of the Women and Family Action Network, a coalition established by the Women's Foundation of Colorado in 2005. In her free time, Laura enjoys writing poetry, yoga, and hiking with her kids in the mountains.


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