BCDD Community Advisory Council


Ginger Walton photo Ginger Walton - 2013-2015 Chair
Ginger Walton is the mother of six children, two of who children have disabilities, severe anxiety disorder and ADD and severe - moderate Autism. With an associates degree in Early Childhood Education, she has worked in the early childhood field for 16 years. A Partners in Policymaking graduate, Ms. Walton recently completed the Volunteer Advocacy Program training from Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for parent volunteers to assist in IEP meetings. She is a experienced trainer on early childhood on a variety of topics and consulted with many IEPs in advocating for their family members.

Melvin JacksonMelvin Jackson, Vice Chair
Melvin Jackson is the current Vice Chair of the Boling Center Community Advisory Council. Melvin joined the Center for Literacy, Education & Employment in the Fall of 2011. He has been a middle school teacher and a volunteer tutor in adult literacy. Melvin holds a Master of Professional Studies degree and a Master of Arts in Teaching degree, both from the University of Memphis. Melvin also holds a teaching license in the state of Tennessee. His endorsements are in middle grades and special education. As a Self-Determination trainer and Transition consultant, Melvin provides professional development and technical assistance to teachers and others on helping high school students, including those with disabilities or other barriers, transition from high school to career or post-secondary education or training.

Ace Madjlesi photo Ace Madjlesi - 2013-2015 Secretary
Ace Madjlesi is a local advocate for disability rights. During her graduate studies at the University of Memphis, Ace was awarded a Housing and Community Development Research Fellowship, which she chose to fulfill at the Memphis Center for Independent Living. Her research in medical anthropology has focused on accessibility issues as well as the unique challenges of parenting children with disabilities. Ace is currently a research associate at the Center for Research on Women at the University of Memphis, where she works to connect disability with other forms of social inequality through community-based research and policy design.


Elizabeth Bishop photoElizabeth A. Bishop, M.S.S.W.
LEND Training Coordinator, BCDD
Email: ebishop@uthsc.edu

Elizabeth A. Bishop has been with the Boling Center since 2001 and is interested in educational issues from inclusion to post-secondary education as well as adult and distance learning. As a social worker her interests lie in systems and macro level practice of working with communities to assess and address issues and concerns. Her roles at the Boling Center have included aspects of community outreach and training as well as practice social work skills working with families and community partners. Ms. Bishop is currently working on a doctorate in adult education.

Laura Murphy, EdD photoLaura Murphy, EdD
Research Coordinator, BCDD
Email: lmurphy@uthsc.edu

Laura Murphy is the Chief of Psychology as well as the Research Coordinator for the Boling Center. Her expertise includes working with graduate and post graduate students and professionals in the community as well as advising and supervision on several research projects. Dr. Murphy's expertise resides in competent clinical practice as well as research methodologies.

Belinda Tate Hardy, M.S.S.W., L.C.S.W. photoBelinda Tate Hardy, M.S.S.W., L.C.S.W.
Technical Assistance Coordinator, BCDD
Email: btate@uthsc.edu

Belinda Hardy is the Chief of Social Work and the Technical Assistance Coordinator. As the chief of social work, Ms. Hardy supervises and interacts with the College of Social Work at the University of Tennessee and University of Memphis. Ms. Hardy provides assistance to local community organizations and coordinates several regional and statewide projects.

Jenness Roth, M.Ed  photoJenness Roth, M.Ed
Family Faculty Coordinator, BCDD
Email: jroth11@uthsc.edu

Jenness Roth is part of the Training Department at the Boling Center, and she is passionate about ensuring that parents and siblings of people with disabilities are included in all training and learning opportunities available. Ms. Roth is the parent of two sons, one of whom has significant developmental disabilities. She has an extensive history in the state of Tennessee advocating, and teaching advocacy skills, to parents of children with special needs.

Judy H Brooks   photoNorris Branick
Jackson Center for Independent Living, Jackson, TN
Email: adaadvocate@jcil.org

Norris Branick currently works at the Jackson Center for Independent Living (JCIL) as an advid advocate for people with disabilities. Mr. Branick "loves sports and speaking to people about ADA" as well as empowering people to speak for themselves. As an individual with a disability, Mr. Branick provides a unique voice to the Boling Center CAC as a representative from Jackson, Tennessee, Mr. Branick assists in communicating the needs of that community.

Judy H Brooks   photo Judy H. Brooks
Arkansas Council on Developmental Disabilities, Memphis, TN
Email: jbrooks@uthsc.edu

Judy Brooks in addition to being on staff at the Boling Center is also a parent of a daughter with ADHD. A former resident of Arkansas, Ms. Brooks has been very active on the Arkansas Developmental Disabilities Council as well as the Arkansas Disability Coalition. She is also a member of the Arkansas Disability Policy Consortium and has a seat on the Arkansas Partners for Inclusive Communities Community Advisory Council. Ms. Brooks served on the grant awards committee for the Foundation for the MidSouth, a philanthropic multi-state organization seeking to provide seed grants to better the communities in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas. Ms. Brooks has also served on the Family Alliance Leadership Team.

Frederick B. Palmer, MD photoFrederick B. Palmer, MD
Director, Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities
Developmental Pediatrician
Shainberg Professor of Pediatrics
Email: fpalmer@uthsc.edu

Dr. Palmer is committed to interdisciplinary training of professionals in comprehensive, coordinated, family-centered care and supports for children and adults with disabilities. He has worked closely with the American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in developing certification policies and procedures in the subspecialty of Neurodevelopmental Disabilities. Dr. Palmer's special clinical service interests are in cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorders, preschool language disorders and better meeting the needs of children and adults with disabilities and their families in the setting of our changing health care delivery and related support system.

Laurie Fleming photoLaurie Fleming
Vanderbilt Kennedy Center UCEDD, Nashville, TN
Email: laurie.fleming@vanderbilt.edu

Laurie Fleming plans, coordinates, and administers Vanderbilt Kennedy University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities programs (VKC UCEDD), including activities of the Community Advisory Council and related Vanderbilt Kennedy Center activities. She also manages reporting of UCEDD trainees and activities to the Association of University Centers on Disabilities.

Gina Brady photoGina Brady
Tennessee Disability Law and Advocacy Center, Memphis, TN
Email: ginab@dlactn.org

Gina Brady is the parent of a child with disabilities in addition to working at the Disability Law and Advocacy Center of Tennessee.  Gina joined DLAC as an Education Advocate a year and a half ago. She relocated to Tennessee from her home state of New York four years ago. She brings with her over ten years of teaching experience in the special education field where she was fortunate to have worked with, and learned from, children and young adults with a variety of disabilities. Gina also brings with her the joys and challenges of raising two wonderful daughters.

Aaron Kohring pictureAaron Kohring
Director of the Center for Literacy, Education and Employment (CLEE)
Knoxville, TN

Aaron has worked at the Center for Literacy Studies as a research associate and professional development trainer since 1999 and is the current manager for the Equipped for the Future (EFF) project at the Center. He has extensive experience with standards-based education and has specific content knowledge and experience in the areas of Adult Reading, Mathematics/Numeracy, Learning Disabilities (LD), and Workforce Preparation.

Crystal GodwinCrystal Godwin
Center for Literacy, Education and Employment (CLEE), Knoxville, TN
Email: cgodwin1@utk.edu

Crystal Godwin is the Self-Determination Trainer at the Center for Literacy, Education and Employment (CLEE). She is very enthusiastic about her duties and is looking forward to working with educators and students by showing them the keys to promote empowerment through self-determination and self-advocacy. In her personal and professional life, she has obtained many years of experience working with those who have disabilities and is eager to share her knowledge along with the Self-Determination Curriculum with today's youth by giving them the tools they need to make the best choices for their future.

Sandi Klink photoSandi Klink
Memphis Center for Independent Living, Memphis, TN
Email: sandi@mcil.org

Sandi Klink is the Associate Director of the Memphis Center for Independent Living. In her own words she states, "As a single disabled mother, Independent Living has taken on many definitions and choices; my own apartment instead of a room at my parents, a good paying job with some accommodation, parent-teacher conferences, and acceptance as a human being with value. Equal opportunity as a woman and as one with physical challenges is my legal right. Many changes in legislation have added to my life but more is needed to allow everyone equal access, equal pay, equal housing and the freedom to pursue these rights."

Carlene Leaper photoCarlene Leaper, Executive Director
MidSouth Arc, Memphis, TN
Email: cleaper@arcmidsouth.net

Carlene Leaper is the Executive Director of The Arc of the Mid-South, a 501c3 non-profit United Way agency dedicated to empowering people with disabilities to achieve their full potential. In addition to her professional duties, Ms. Leaper is also a member of the Mayor’s Advisory Council, St. John’s Community Services, National Conference of The Arc (NCE) and the Tennessee Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Advisory Council.

Bruce Keisling, PhD photoBruce Keisling, PhD
Associate Director, BCDD
Email: bkeislin@uthsc.edu

Dr. Bruce Keisling is the Associate Director of the Boling Center as well as the Clinical Services Coordinator.

Dr. Laura Payne
East TN Technology Access Center

Carolyn Somerville
Shelby County Health Department, Memphis, TN
Email: csomerville@co.shelby.tn.us

Robin Stevens PhotoRobin Welsh Stevens
Memphis, TN
Email: rwelsh@memphis.edu

Robin Stevens is the parent of twin boys who have chronic health care needs. She has served on many boards and committees related to healthcare in the Mid South such as the Memphis Delta Interagency Coordinating Council, Family Voices of Tennessee, and the Learning Disabilities Association of Tennessee.  Ms. Stevens is also very active in her position as Director of the Regional Intervention Program (RIP) at the University of Memphis. Ms. Stevens is a valuable and knowledgeable resource to the community having received the Elizabeth Bogg’s Award for Advocacy (2001) from Mid South Arc and is a Partners in Policymaking graduate.

Catherine Sturdivant
Jackson Center for Independent Living, Jackson, TN
Email: catherine@jcil.org

Wanda Willis photoWanda Willis, Executive Director
Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities, Nashville, TN
Email: wanda.willis@state.tn.us

Wanda Willis, M.Ed. has been the Executive Director of the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities since 1991. In this role, Ms. Willis is responsible for spearheading Council systems change initiatives in housing, employment, child care and other areas; launching Tennessee Partners in Policymaking Leadership Institute, and the Tennessee's home-of-your-own initiative for individuals with developmental disabilities. Ms. Willis served as the Director of Planning for the State Division of Mental Retardation Services, (1986-1991); the administrator for community mental retardation services in Tennessee, (1977-1986); and as a school psychologist and classroom teacher in South Carolina, (1971-1977).

Claire Moss, Interim Executive Director
Harwood Center, Memphis , TN
Email: cmoss4@uthsc.edu

Claire Moss is the interim Executive Director of The Harwood Center. She is a professional with fifteen years of experience working in various health care and social service programs as well as membership and board appointments to health related organizations. Ms. Moss has a Masters degree in social work from Louisiana State University.


bowlanConnie Cobb Bowlan, Director of Program Operations, Parent
Shelby Residential Vocational Services, Memphis, TN

Connie comes to SRVS and the CAC with over 25 years of experience in the health care field.Her background includes a wealth of experience working with state systems and organizations dedicated to enhancing the health of people with disabilities and their families. She has been involved in clinical service provisions of Developmental Disabilities. Ms. Bowlan is the parent of four children, one of whom was born with Down syndrome and is also deaf. Ms. Bowlan is passionate about ensuring that individuals are safe, respected and assisted to seek meaningful quality supports in their home and community. She recognizes the influence of parents and family members of people with disabilities and welcomes the partnership to maintain an extended family structure and home environment. Ms. Bowlan has an extensive history in volunteering, advocating, and specific developmental training, to professional and parents of those with special needs.  Ms. Bowlan has also served on many boards and committees related to healthcare and developmental disabilities in the Mid-South.

Lorrinda Mabry is employed with the Tennessee Disability Coalition in Nashville, TN. As a person with ceberal palsy, she is on the board of People First for two years. She is a member of The Arc, United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), and Disability Coalition on Education. Ms. Mabry has the distinction of being named "Ms. Wheelchair 2009"

Steve Sheegog is the parent of a child on the Autism Spectrum and is a tireless advocate for people with disabilities and the voice of families. A former member and Chair of the Tennessee Developmental Disabilities Council, Mr. Sheegog has also completed the Partners in POlicymaking curriculum and resides in west Tennessee.

Dr. Kay Reeves Primarily identifies herself as the mother of a 38 year old man with Down Syndrome. She is also a Clinical Assistant Professor at The University of Memphis, in Memphis TN, as well as the Special Education Program Coordinator for the Instruction and Curriculum Leadership department. She teachs graduate special education classes to adults who plan to be special education teachers. Along with teaching, she is the Principal Investigator of 4 major grants: Project Memphis - family trainers who work with children birth to 3 who have developmental delays; BASE-TN and Special Education Institute grants in which tuition is provided for those interested in teaching special education in the public schools; and Regional Intervention Program (RIP)- trained staff who work with children up to 6 years of age with behavioral issues.

New Members for 2016-2019 term

Patrick Helper-Ferris has used a wheelchair since an accident in 2010. He is a member and volunteer with Mid-South Peace & Justice Center.

Marian Bacon is a former Memphis Center for Independent Living employee.  A self-advocate with multiple disabilities Marian holds positions on several disability related community boards.

Robin Goddard is the parent of nine children, many of whom are adopted and have multiple disabilities.