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.
Joyce Brooks is a Maryland SILC Member, having been appointed to the Council in 2019.
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.
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.