• Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share via Email
Daniel Alexander 

Daniel is a Therapeutic Recreation Specialist for City of Knoxville Parks and Recreation. He has spent his career serving individuals with disabilities, doing so in many capacities such as his role at Peninsula Village serving adults with developmental disabilities, his role at Day Services Supervisor at Breakthrough Corporation, and his current role in therapeutic recreation at the City of Knoxville. Daniel has spent the last 15 years being an advocate for people with various disabilities. He is an active and enthusiastic participant with strong communication skills who will be able to help evaluate the needs and trends of the disability community in order to help bring awareness to issues and formulate solutions to make progress going forward. 


John Barber 

John Barber is the current Area Director of Joni and Friends TN. In this role, he supervises programming across Tennessee and Kentucky, and is committed to serving people living with disabilities. John has spent several years in service to the church as an Executive Pastor before combining his advocacy for people with disabilities with his previous church service in his current position as Area Director. He takes great joy in providing services such as respite care and retreats to Veterans and people with disabilities as well as equipping local churches with the knowledge they need to better serve this population. Previously, John has worked as a Communications Manager, Human Resources Coordinator, Copywriter and Video Producer, and has even worked in marketing and special events. With his extremely varied background and his passion to serving others, he will bring a well-rounded perspective to CODI. 


Andrea Briggs 

Andrea is a 10-year survivor of brain injury as a result of a car accident in 2011. While she has significant mobility and moderate cognitive deficits, she is a determined, positive, focused individual with tremendous understanding and empathy for people with similar issues and deficits. She is a new resident to Knoxville and will be working through the challenges of finding her way in a new community, finding friends and, hopefully, employment. Andrea was a college student when her accident happened. Not long after her injury, Andrea had to re-learn how to draw the letter A. Now, she is earning A’s in her upper-level college courses. The brain injury left her in a coma for weeks, unable to speak for months. Her recovery began with re-learning how to sit, blink on command, and swallow water and food. Her laugh returned before her words. Later, she focused on re-learning how to stand, walk with assistance, and write. After a two-year gap when she devoted her time and energy to rehabilitation and independent living, Andrea returned to college, majoring in psychology.  She has developed various strategies to remake a learning style that accommodates her deficits, and she has had to manage being her own advocate for her own needs with the school’s Office of Disability Services. She also has become an adept user of public transportation for those with disabilities. She graduated in May with a 3.2 grade point average and will be living in Knoxville by the end of June. Previously, Andrea has participated in an advisory group with the University of Colorado Medical School to offer guidance on new programs and services for those with brain injuries. She has also participated in a brain injury support group and in research studies through Craig Rehabilitation Hospital in Denver. In addition to contributing to the Council her experiences and knowledge of disability challenges, Andrea would also tremendously benefit from the connections she would make serving in this role.  


George Childress 

George, who has an outgoing and positive personality, would love the opportunity to help better Knoxville through helping others by sharing the knowledge he has learned since becoming disabled at the age of nineteen. At that age, he experienced a car wreck that led to him becoming a paraplegic who uses a wheelchair. After seeing how people with disabilities were dismissed by others, it gave him the drive and determination to be better and to still be his true self, regardless of the situation. Since then, he has gained employment, attended college, learned to drive again, and got married. Two years ago, complications with wound healing in his legs necessitated a double amputation but left him with a new lease on life and more freedoms, such as riding a roller coaster for the very first-time last year. Now thirty-two, he has a unique perspective that allows him to see the point of view of younger and older generations of people with disabilities, and well as those who do not have disabilities.  


Kendrise Colebrooke

Kendrise Colebrooke is the Executive Director of Breakthrough Corporation, which provides services to adults with autism in East Tennessee.  She graduated from the University of Tennessee Knoxville with a BA in Psychology and later with a MS in Counseling with a concentration in Rehabilitation Counseling.  Throughout her career she has been involved in workforce development for adults with disabilities, counseling for youth in transition, foster care case management and behavioral counseling. Ms. Colebrooke has served on several non-profit boards including UUNIK Academy, Inc., Locked Down on The Outside, and Bridge to Employment in Service and Tourism (B.E.S.T.). She is a member of the National Rehabilitation Counseling Association, Inc., Chi Sigma Iota, Counseling Academic & Professional Honor Society, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. It is her hope to inspire others to do their level-best to make meaningful contributions to the communities they serve, at any age, at any ability.


Stephanie Brewer Cook, ADA Coordinator, Disability Services Office, City of Knoxville

Stephanie Brewer Cook is the City of Knoxville’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator.  Since 1998, she has worked as a Policy Analyst and Disability Services Coordinator. In her daily work with City departments, she consults on proposed projects and policies with the goal of ensuring that they are accessible to and inclusive of people with disabilities and seniors as well as to ensure that they adhere to the ADA’s requirements.  Another important part of her job is the provision of reasonable accommodations to both the public and City employees.  She regularly educates architects, engineers and others in the design and construction industry about true accessibility and the purpose for it, with the goal of positively impacting the built environment.  With the City’s recent designation by AARP as an Age-Friendly City, she is leading the efforts to make Knoxville a truly livable community. Mrs. Cook is formerly a member and past Chair of the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities and held a position on the Board of Directors for the Epilepsy Foundation of East Tennessee for nearly fourteen years.  She is currently a member of the Executive Board of Directors for Disability Rights Tennessee and serves on the Knoxville Area Employment Consortium (KAEC) where she is the immediate past Chair. Currently, she is the Chair of the Project SEARCH Employer Advisory Committee.  Mrs. Cook is a proud graduate of the University of Tennessee, Pellissippi State Technical Community College, the Tennessee Partners in Policymaking Leadership Institute, the Knoxville-Knox County CAC Leadership program and the United Way’s Community Building workshop.


Hank Jenkins

Hank Jenkins is an Ordained Deacon in the United Methodist Church residing in Knoxville, Tennessee. His primary ministry is as Co-Chair of the Association of Ministers with Disabilities, an organization that seeks to advocate and educate around the needs of people with disabilities within the United Methodist Church while also being a mentor and gathering space for those disabled ministers. Hank is currently working on his Doctor of Ministry with a focus on developing resources for denominational leaders to better engage, empower and equip people with disabilities seeking to be in leadership. In addition, he is currently a full-time Law Student at The Duncan School of Law at Lincoln Memorial University.


Dennis Landfather 


Dennis is a disabled Navy Veteran who grew up struggling to understand his world and thinking he was different than everyone else. At age 27, he met others that shared his disability, showing him, he was not alone. He describes this moment as an enlightening and life changing event. Since then, he has been on a mission of self-improvement and growth, leading to a varied background which includes twenty years with the military, achieving an MBA, serving as Vice President of his local HOA, a certification in Complimentary Alternative Medicine (CAM) Treatments, along with being a Certified Predictive Index Talent Optimization Consultant.

Dennis is currently the Vice President of Operations at Design Innovation Architects and is looking forward to providing his expertise in helping CODI further the goals of the disability community in Knoxville. His personal Motto is: Learn, Grow, Do.


Karen Lowe 

Karen, being less than four feet tall, represents the little people community and will bring a different and much needed perspective to CODI regarding the everyday challenges faced by this specific population. Karen is also bilingual and is looking forward to helping CODI reach the Spanish speaking disability populations in Knoxville. 

She is currently the Human Resources Coordinator for Goodwill Industries Knoxville, where she has been employed in that position since 2012. She has a wealth of Knowledge from her previous experience both personally and professionally and knows how to help support individuals with disabilities in their employment endeavors. 


Conya Mull

Conya Mull has spent the last nineteen years of her professional career assisting youth and adults with disabilities.  Advocating and being a voice for those who don’t have one, is not only a passion but a personal conviction of hers.  She works with employers and community providers by providing education as to why it makes sense to hire someone with a disability - including workplace accommodations.   An integrated employment setting, inclusion in the community, and independent living supports are important to ALL people not just some. Mull is knowledgeable in both state and federal program development and implementation and will continue to advocate for those who cannot advocate for their self.


Will NeSmith

Will is twenty-two year old University of Tennessee student who was a stroke survivor at the young age of twelve, and HHT advocate with nine years of experience with disability. Throughout that time, he has been extremely busy advocating for disability inclusion not only for himself, but for others. He, along with his sister, recently raised funding and launched “Abled Magazine,” a digital resource for others to connect and share their personal experiences with disability. Will hopes that this venture will help reduce the stigma around disability and lead to further inclusion. Will has shown a continued commitment to furthering accessibility and inclusion for the disability community and can provide the perspective of younger generations of Knoxvillians and the issues they currently face in this Community.


Monica Orr

Monica Orr received her Master’s in Leisure Service Administration from Gallaudet University and is currently working part time as the DeafBlind Coordinator for the Knoxville Center of the Deaf. 
Orr has over thirty years of experience with the DeafBlind disability community, and has experienced hearing loss since birth. She has much experience in deaf-blind tactile interpreting and support service, and has been involved with Knoxville’s DeafBlind community for many years.


Joel Simmons

Joel Simmons has a BS in communications from Middle Tennessee State University and a MS in rehabilitation counseling from the University of Tennessee. He worked as a flight attendant both domestically and internationally for 23 years at Northwest Airlines. This experience exposed Joel to multiple cultures and people from all walks of life. He took early retirement in 2009 to work in the insurance industry full-time. In 2010 Joel had an automobile accident resulting in quadriplegia. He earned his master’s degree after his accident. He was 48 years old at the time of the accident and 52 years of age when he went back to school. Joel did his initial therapy at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta and continued outpatient therapy at Patricia Neal here in Knoxville. He is one of the founding members of the spinal cord support group, Able and Wheeling and has volunteered in this capacity since 2012. Able and Wheeling is a peer support group at Patricia Neal for newly injured SCI patients. Joel serves as a board member for the disABILITY Resource Center as well. He is also a volunteer speaker for the Roane State OTA and PTA classes on a regular basis. Joel worked for East Tennessee Technology Access Center from January 2016 until May 2019. He performed intake and assessments for vocational rehabilitation clients and help develop and implement programs assisting individuals and families affected by disabilities. Joel represented ETTAC at the Knoxville Area Employment Consortium meetings. KAEC actively tries to pair businesses with people who have disabilities. This type of inclusion results in positive outcomes for both parties. After leaving ETTAC he continues to volunteer with KAEC.


Stacy Spangler

Stacy is the Disability Resource Coordinator and Ticket to Work Program Administrator for CAC where she ensures The American Job center is ADA compliant and assists individuals with all types of disabilities with their job search and accessing accommodations. She also works with SSDI recipients to ensure that they have a full understanding of their Social Security Benefits. She was the Former Lead Job Coach for The Project Search Program UTMC site that is staffed by Autism Breakthrough of Knoxville, and a Workforce Development Manager for The Emory Valley Center. Stacy is an active member of the Project Search Steering Committee and Chair of The Knoxville Area Employment Consortium.


Jessica Villanueva 

Jessica has 11 years of experience working with individuals with disabilities, specifically Deaf and Blindness. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree from UT in Special Education and Educational Interpreting (Sign Language). She worked at Tennessee School for the Deaf 2012-2015, then went on to receive her Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling with a focus in Deafness.  

After graduation she began working as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for the Blind for the state of TN in 2015 and was subsequently promoted to a supervisory position covering the region of East TN in 2017.  In 2020 she gained another promotion to Director of Field Operations for Vocational Rehabilitation Deaf and Blind services statewide. Her knowledge, skills, and experience working with the Deaf and Blind will give perspective as to how employers, training facilities, and community partners can provide accommodations to these populations. 


Nancy Welch

Nancy is the Program Manager of Knoxville-Knox County CAC's Volunteer Assisted Transportation program. For the last 10 years she has recruited, coordinated, and trained volunteers from the community to assist with transportation to Knox County seniors and people with disabilities. She came to Volunteer Assisted Transportation as a volunteer driver, while she was in training to become a Certified Nursing Assistant and a Phlebotomist. Nancy has worked in healthcare and been a caregiver for family members and has seen first hand the needs of the elderly and what helps them remain independent, active, and healthy. Nancy's compassion and caring heart for the senior community is what motivates her each and every day to assist those in need.