The Maryland Statewide Independent Living Council (Maryland SILC) is a governor-appointed advisory council that promotes independent living across the state of Maryland. The Maryland SILC is composed of people with disabilities, parents of disabled individuals, representatives of advocacy groups and service providers from public and private agencies.
Rose Carey presently serves as Chair of the Maryland State Independent Living Council! The Maryland SILC partners with all seven of the Centers for Independent Living in Maryland to better serve individuals with disabilities in their communities.
Rose has been a resident of Maryland’s Eastern Shore all her life. She served as Volunteer Coordinator and Program Manager for the Money Follows the Person Program and Independent Living Services at the Bay Area Independent Living Center that covers the nine counties on the Eastern Shore. Before her time there, Rose worked for approximately seventeen years at Holly Center, a state residential facility for developmentally disabled individuals. Rose is a certified Community Resource Specialist and a Maryland Certified Community Health Worker. She also volunteers with the local Agency on Aging. Rose shared that her goals and objectives during her term as Chair at the Maryland SILC are:
- To work with the Centers and the Maryland SILC to monitor the State Independent Living Plan to ensure that consumers with disabilities have information to assist them in maintaining independent lives in their community
- To increase awareness of the Council, the CILS and the Independent Living Movement.
Melissa Blubaugh has been a member of the disability community for nearly 30 years, after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1993. As MS impacted her mobility, she reached out to her local agencies for information about opportunities and services available for people with disabilities. What began as a need for self-advocacy led her onto the path to advocate for her peers in the disability and IL communities. In 2011, Melissa accepted a seat on the Board of Directors of Resources for Independence (RFI), the Center for Independent Living serving consumers residing in Western Maryland. At the urging of the RFI Executive and Assistant Directors, she applied for appointment to the Statewide Independent Living Council. In addition to Melissa’s commitment to serving as Vice-chair and Executive Committee member of the Maryland SILC, she is overjoyed to continue her long-term service as an RFI Board Member. In July 2021, Melissa was among the Disability Rights Advocate panelists celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act at a Facebook live Equity & Justice Roundtable with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Congressman David Trone on National Disability Independence.
Megan Glaze Keller
English Harper has been a part of the disability community since 2013, when he himself acquired a spinal cord injury after a motor vehicle accident. He has humble beginnings, working as a Peer Mentor with University of Maryland Orthopedics and Rehab, where he has been able to connect with new patients and talk about his personal experiences, bring attention to new opportunities, and highlight what patients may come to expect as they adjust to their “new normal.” English realized he could potentially do more when a colleague reached out about an opening with a local Center for Independent Living, and he decided to take the plunge into working after acquiring a lifelong disability. English was given an opportunity to work with Accessible Resources for Independence, meeting with consumers in nursing facilities to talk about the possibilities of transitioning out with services and working with the local Maryland Access Point to provide information and referral services to consumers in Anne Arundel County. English now works with county government, continuing to provide information and referral services as well as short term case management to consumers and their families, and he has not forgotten where he came from and the communities he wishes to serve.
Janice Jackson is a dynamic advocator, educator, innovator, and motivator. For over 37 years she has been an “Agent of Change,” and recognized as one of the most prominent voices advocating for the rights of individuals with disabilities in Maryland. Janice joined the disability community in 1984, at the age of twenty-four; after being struck by a car. Having to start her life all over again, Janice promotes independent living at its highest level. Janice is the founder and executive director of Woman Embracing Abilities Now (W.E.A.N.). W.E.A.N. is a nonprofit mentoring organization servicing women and young ladies with disabilities. Janice is also an adjunct professor at the University of Baltimore, where for the last 16 years she has taught business ethics to undergraduate students. Janice, a former Ms. Wheelchair Maryland, is very community oriented and dedicates much of her time sitting on many boards and committees.
Joshua Basile, Esq.
Josh Basile is a C4-5 quadriplegic, power wheelchair user, disability rights advocate, and lawyer. In 2004, at the age of eighteen, Josh was paralyzed below the shoulders in a beach accident. Soon after he formed a 501(c)3 nonprofit to empower newly injured families. He created the world’s largest paralysis video mentoring network on SPINALpedia.com with 21,000 videos searchable by physical functionality. As a medical malpractice lawyer and disabilities rights advocate, Josh serves persons with disabilities both in the courtroom and through policy initiatives. As a community leader and changemaker, Josh works tirelessly to improve the quality of life the people with disabilities and to break down existing barriers to access and inclusion with a focus on independent living, transportation, employment, and web accessibility.
Ms. Lorna-Mae Silcott is an individual with a visual impairment who refuses to let anything stop her from achieving her goals. She is an enthusiastic individual who lives life to the fullest. She has been an educator and an advocate for over 20 years and is currently employed as a disability advocate for the Freedom Center who serves Frederick and Carroll County in Maryland. As an advocate, she provides Pre-Employment Transition Services to youths, is on the housing case management team, is working on her benefits counseling certification, and is a valued part of the Employment Network at The Freedom Center. She hosts a weekly show called The Freedom Train which educates, informs, and encourages the community at large, and she is now the secretary and part of the MSILC Executive Counsel. She strongly believes in serving with excellence and is enthusiastic about letting others know they do not have to settle for less. She believes that her journey from seeing to a visual impairment has allowed her an opportunity to use every situation as a teachable moment to educate others about her capabilities, so they are not so focused on the disability. She uses her life story to encourage others and show that if she did it, they can too. Her motto is “I am built for this.” Meaning whatever life brings, we are prepared and pre-packaged to manage it. She believes she has a lot to offer to those she meets, especially in the community, and takes every opportunity to help others achieve their goals.
Jade Ann Gingerich has over two decades of state policy making, starting as Executive Director of the Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities and most recently as Director of Employment Policy for the Maryland Department of Disabilities (MDOD), the nation’s only Cabinet level cross-disability Department. An expert in state level interagency and external coordination and collaboration, she has presented widely on the topic of employment and transition, testified before the state legislature, and served as an expert on national advisory boards related to employment and transition policy.
Her accomplishments are numerous and include co-leading Maryland’s earliest Employment First efforts, creation of the Employed Individuals with Disabilities program (Maryland’s Medicaid Buy In), leading the Maryland Medicaid Infrastructure grant and co-founding the Maryland’s Youth Leadership Forum, co-chairing the Workgroup overseeing the elimination of subminimum wage in Maryland, and serving as a founding member of the State Agency Transition Collaborative. In addition to her policy work, Ms. Gingerich served as Project Director for Maryland PROMISE grant, a 5-year research grant awarded to Maryland in October 2013 by the US Department of Education. PROMISE, a cross agency partnership, worked to increase education and employment outcomes for youth between the ages of 14 and 16 on SSI and their families. She currently serves as MDOD’s representative to the Maryland Statewide Independent Living Council, Maryland 2 GEN Commission and the Center for Advancing Policy on Employment of Youth Working group. She has a Master of Science in Special Education with a specialization in Transition Services from The Johns Hopkins University.
Michael Bullis has been involved with the Independent Living movement since the 1980’s. The IL movement is the only cross-disability organized effort that speaks for all people with disabilities. Because it is controlled and operated by people with disabilities, it brings an authenticity that other organizations cannot. He currently directs the IMAGE Center of Maryland, the CIL that serves Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Harford County. Along with disability leaders, he helped found The IMAGE Center in 2011 and, he says, “each day continues to be an exciting opportunity to change what it means to have a disability. We see disability as a solution waiting to happen, natural, normal and manageable.”
Laurie Elinoff has a passion for the Independent Living Movement that was born in an institution in 1976. She was initially hired to help individuals improve their language skills, but what Laurie really wanted to do was to help these people get out of that institution. Fast forwarding 25 years, Laurie’s life changed dramatically when she incurred a Traumatic Brain Injury in a car accident. This presented Laurie with the opportunity to transition from a career where she helped people with disabilities make career choices to a position on the Maryland Statewide Independent Living Council. As a Council member, Laurie has had the opportunity to work with the seven Centers for Independent Living to strengthen independent living services, giving Marylanders with disabilities power and control over their lives.
Ms. Monica Wiley
Ms. Wiley was diagnosed with an incomplete spinal cord injury caused by a drunk driver that caused her family to plunge over a 150 ft bridge. Her entire family died, and she was the remaining survivor of the tragedy. Ms. Wiley was nine years old. Ms. Wiley was told that she would be paraplegic for the rest of her life. However, she beat the odds of the diagnosis and was able to begin rehabilitation to walk again. She currently walks with a cane. She is classified at Children Hospital of Richmond, Virginia as the Miracle Child.
Ms. Wiley has over 15 years of experience as a Disability adviser in the public administration sector. She has worked for some notable leaders ranging from state government to federal organizations on protecting and advancing the rights of people with disabilities. Ms. Wiley served as Field Organizer with President Obama’s grassroots organization-Organizing for America in the Greater Richmond Area. She was the only organizer with a disability. Ms. Wiley was selected as the Virginia liasion on disability to the White House Disability Group under the Obama-Biden administration. Ms. Wiley was appointed by former Governor McAuliffe of Virginia as a Disability Advisor on Community Integration to the administration. She is the co-founder of the Disability Issues Caucus Constituency Organization for the Democratic Party of Virginia. Non-Partisan BioIn 2017, Ms. Wiley was asked to serve on the National Disability Council under the leadership of former Congressman Tony Coelho, author of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). She was the only African American woman elected as an officer to the council.
Ms. Wiley is currently employed at the DCCC as the DEI (Diversity, Equity Inclusion) Manager. She serves as V. Chair of the United Spinal Association Chapter of Washington, D.C. And recently was unanimously elected to the Board of Directors with the United Spinal Association . Ms. Wiley holds an AAS in Police Sciences and Criminology from John Tyler Community College in Chester, VA, a B.S., in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Pre-Law and Political Science from Virginia Commonwealth University, a certificate in Policy Making from Virginia Board for People with Disabilities, and a certificate from Emerge America that trains women to run for public office. Ms. Wiley received the 2011 Community Activism Award from Special Olympics, 2011 Tom Whipple Democratic Party of Virginia Service of The Year Award, 2012 Top 40 under 40 Successful Leaders award by Style Weekly.
Ms. Wiley loves shopping for the latest fashion, traveling, comedy shows and public speaking. She loves to share her story to effectuate change that will improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. As a change agent–it is my responsibility to shift the narrative of people with disabilities by showing society how I’ve utilized my past, stereotypes, adversities, and atrocities in a way that can lead to defining your vision, your purpose, your destiny– how your capabilities will reflect future abilities. I’m using my story, my journeys and valleys as a catalyst to promote encouragement, positivity and determination to achieve your endeavors. One of my favorite mottos is a quote by Nelson Mandela, “A winner is a dreamer who never gives up!” I want to be a model of greatness and a source of inspiration for my community. Ms. Monica Wiley puts the “M” in motivation. She is known among her community as “Ms. Mo” the Motivator”.
Lauren is an attorney with over forty years’ experience in public interest law, including with Disability Rights Maryland where she was Director of Litigation. Lauren worked with disability advocates and others to act on disability discrimination in housing, transportation, education, health care, voting, places of public accommodation. She has participated in abuse investigations of people with disabilities in state institutions including psychiatric hospitals, residential treatment centers and prisons. She participated in the Attorney General Access to Justice COVID-19 Task Force, as sub-committee chair for Medicaid and Health Issues; as Commissioner for the Advisory Commission for the Maryland Department of Disabilities; as co chair of the subcommittee studying disability bias for the Commission on Child Custody Decision Making. She has marched in D.C and several states with ADAPT friends and others. She is delighted to be working with her friends and colleagues and to continue learning from the disability community.
Cynthia Brown is a native of Southern Maryland, specifically, St. Mary’s County. She received her bachelor’s degree in Communications from Howard University in Washington, DC. Shortly after graduation, she landed a position as a Placement Specialist in the human resources office of the U.S. House of Representatives. Ms. Brown later returned to St. Mary’s County to start her family and pursue her passion for working to empower disenfranchised communities. Cynthia’s career spans more than 25 years of public service with the St. Mary’s County Government. She is the Human Services Division Manager for the St. Mary’s County Department of Aging and Human Services. As such, her job involves advocating for people living with behavioral health and mental illness, disabilities, homelessness, and poverty.
She also writes grants and monitors various programs serving these special populations. Early in her career, she coordinated the national VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) Program for her county which provided grassroots community mobilization efforts in under-resourced neighborhoods. She has planned countless large-scale, public, multicultural events focusing on the needs of women, and disabled citizens and bringing together people of different lived experiences and ethnicities. Cynthia was designated as St. Mary’s County’s first Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator. She led the way for the local government’s self-assessment of all facilities and programs to be in compliance with the ADA. She was instrumental in establishing the County’s first citizen advisory board focusing on equity for people with special needs, The St. Mary’s County Commission for People with Disabilities.
She describes one of the highlights of her career as organizing a trip for several participants in local day programs and their caregivers to Capitol Hill to participate in the national recognition of the 10-Year Anniversary of the ADA legislation. She had t-shirts made for the “St. Mary’s Team” and handled all the transportation accommodations, safety measures, meals, and necessary details to make it a memorable trip. Many who went shared how excited and proud they felt to advocate for themselves and join with hundreds of other people with disabilities as a unified voice at such an important event! Despite her years of professional experience as an advocate in the disabilities arena.
Cynthia considers her most important role in life as a mom and advocate for her daughter who experienced significant health challenges from seven years of age. Her daughter is now an adult and Cynthia continues to be her biggest champion supporting her daughter’s quest to identify her strengths, develop her own goals and live her life to the fullest. Being a Statewide Independent Living Council member allows Cynthia to advocate for resources, programs, and services that continue to support and enhance the lives of people living with various types of disabilities. She recently earned a master’s degree in Social Justice and Community Organizing and plans to use her skills to increase awareness of the Independent Living Movement. Cynthia contributes to the work of the SILC from the perspective of a mother, caregiver, community member, and public servant.