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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. 

Hilary Brooks

Brooks has worked with individuals with disabilities for over twelve years, specifically with intellectual disabilities and autism. She obtained her Master’s Degree in Special Education from UTK and taught in both elementary and secondary settings. She has a strong desire to improve outcomes for youth with disabilities by advocating for seamless transitions to life after high school and full inclusion in the Knoxville community.

Currently, Brooks works as an Employment Coordinator at Sertoma Center where her position focuses on facilitating competitive employment opportunities for graduates of the Project SEARCH program and persons who are supported by Sertoma’s vocational rehabilitation program. Her community involvement includes membership participation on the Project SEARCH Steering Committee and the Knoxville Area Employment Consortium.

Jackson Cain

Jackson Cain is a staff attorney for Legal Aid of East Tennessee practicing in the areas of elder law, Medicare and Medicaid, and Social Security Disability Benefits. Since starting his legal career, Mr. Cain has been committed to expanding access to justice for people with disabilities. From his roles with Disability Rights Tennessee and Legal Aid of East Tennessee, he has devoted his work to furthering equity and autonomy for individuals with disabilities in his local community.

Currently, Mr. Cain assists people with disabilities navigate the Social Security, Medicaid, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s appeals processes and aids Knox County seniors with estate planning. Outside of this, Mr. Cain participates in programs with the Knox County Community Action Committee (“CAC”) including the Public Information Committee and the Affordable Medicine Options for Seniors committee. Mr. Cain is also a Tennessee native and a graduate of the University of Tennessee and Belmont University College of Law.

Nancy Carter

Carter was born in a small town in Oklahoma in the mid-fifties. She moved to the East Tennessee area in her early twenties where she co-owned and operated a Sonic Drive In for eighteen years. In 1997 Carter received a degree in Dental Hygiene Technology and practiced for five years before retiring in 2002 after which she collected social security disability for the eye disease Retinitis Pigmentosa. After spending several years taking care of family members, Carter desired to return to work so she contacted Vocational Rehabilitation to begin the process. Being unable to see print on a computer she learned to use the screen reader Jaws. Cater volunteered for Spark for three months and then was offered a job as a teacher of screen readers. She now teaches at Spark and is the community coordinator there.

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.  

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 DRT, 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 Knoxville Area Employment Consortium (KAEC) and the Tennessee Disability Coalition. 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.

Misha Dziubak, Disability Services Office, City of Knoxville

Dziubak works as Disability Services Office Assistant I, and liaison to the Mayor’s Council on Disability Issues (CODI). Dziubak joined the Disability Services office at the City of Knoxville in January of 2018 where she has worked on a part-time basis since. Prior to coming to the City of Knoxville, Dziubak was Operations Director for AMI, LLC overseeing local music schools Knoxville Academy of Music and Farragut Academy of Music.

Born and raised in Knoxville, Dziubak loves the people and places found here, helping others, and finds her position personally rewarding as she gets to make a difference in the day-to-day lives of those she comes into contact with. In her free time, she manages a gaming guild that she has grown to over 995 members nationwide since starting it in September 2022. Dziubak obtained her Associates of Arts from Pellissippi State Technical Community College in 2007, received her national ADA Coordinator certification in August of 2021, and is one class shy of obtaining her Bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Communications from the University of Tennessee.

John Eldredge

John Eldredge graduated in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies from Summit University (Baptist Bible College). In 1989, Eldredge was diagnosed with MS. Starting in 1990, he was instrumental in sales and marketing for PSINet, a commercial Internet Service Provider, which was one of the first of its kind.  Eldredge shifted to be  PSINet’s Director of Contracts from 1993 through 2000. From there he became an independent consultant for Xerox until 2008 when he was approved for SSDI and retired. In 2014 Eldredge moved to downtown Knoxville, living close to market square for 3 years, then in assisted living for 3 years before settling into his uniquely designed home in North Knoxville.

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. 

Aquayla Maxwell

Maxwell is the Director of Operations for Knoxville Area Transit where she oversees the day-to-day operations for all fixed routes and paratransit services. Maxwell has always had a passion for serving the public and although she went to school for nursing, transportation has become her true passion. She drove for CAC for 12 years servicing the disabled and elderly. During those years, she realized that these groups need a voice. She feels that they need to feel included for all of their lifestyle needs and it is up to all of us to bring this awareness to the forefront. Maxwell recently just received my certification as an ADA Coordinator and plans to specialize in transportation and employment.

Christopher "Matty" Mathison

Christopher “Matty” Mathison Is a Disabled Veteran who served in the US Army from 2002-2011 as an Infantryman. Born and raised in Nashville, TN he attended and graduated high school before joining the Military. He served three combat tours to Iraq during his service. When he left the military he went to Jacksonville, FL to attend the TRACK program through the Wounded Warrior Project to help with the completion of his degree. He obtained his AA from Florida State College at Jacksonville. He has lived in and around Knoxville since 2018. His hobby with his significant other is motorcycle riding. He is the current commander of the TN 18-3 Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association chapter out of Knoxville. This group is a veteran non profit organization that helps fellow veterans in anyway that they can. Matty works for the state of Tennessee as a Disabled Veterans' Outreach Program (DVOP) Specialist and assists local homeless and disabled veterans with housing and employment. As a disabled veteran he understand and deals with PTSD, TBI and other trauma daily and has an understanding of the difficulties veterans face on a day to day basis.

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.

Paul Robertson

Paul M. Robertson, Jr. is a Tennessee native and graduate of NTID and Gallaudet University.  He grew up in Miami, FL, after moving from Sevierville, TN, and went to the Miami-Dade Public schools and graduated from South Miami Senior High School in 1984, and returned to his native hometown in the Knoxville area after graduating from Gallaudet. He had been involved with the Tennessee Association of the Deaf as Past President and a member of Knoxville Center of the Deaf. He is now retired with the Tennessee Council for the Deaf, Deaf-Blind, and Hard of Hearing (TCDDBHH) as an executive director.

Monica Shimmin-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.

Lauren Ziegler

Lauren Ziegler is a cultural anthropologist with a background in human rights, strategic communications, and DEI advocacy & social justice. She has collaborated on and implemented initiatives directly related to DEI, such as outreach to underrepresented students, and technology/accessibility in the classroom. While at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Ziegler was appointed to several committees, including the Chancellor’s Commission for Disability. She has also created and maintained departmental diversity initiatives and goals, worked on grant taskforces to provide diversity training to faculty and staff, and collaborated with external agencies and industry leaders for programming.

In addition to her DEI work, Ziegler has held multiple national fellowships with the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Education. She holds a graduate certificate in North African Studies from Al Akhawayn University in Morocco and a graduate certificate in Disasters, Displacement, & Human Rights from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is a trained ethnographic researcher and policy writer that has worked for higher education institutions and nonprofits. Lauren's dedication to DEI & accessibility reflects through her work as an applied anthropologist and her ongoing research on topics such as accessibility and disability advocacy in higher education and U.S. civil rights / human rights initiatives.