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The Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services Commission (IPAS), our governing authority, has the responsibility to assure adequate legal and advocacy services for the protection, promotion and empowerment of the rights and interests of individuals with disabilities throughout Indiana.
The IPAS Commission provides direction and advice on the agency's activities, goals, and policies.
Federal law requires that the Commission be composed of members who broadly represent or are knowledgeable about the needs of the individuals served by the Protection and Advocacy system.
Membership must include individuals with developmental disabilities who are eligible for services or have received or are receiving services, or parents, family members, guardians, advocates, or authorized representatives of such individuals. In addition, the Chair of the Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services Mental Illness Advisory Council (MIAC) automatically is a member of the IPAS Commission.
No more than one-third of the members of the Commission may be appointed by the governor (42 USCA 6042). The Commission appoints the remaining nine members. Members serve three-year terms and may not serve more than five consecutive terms.
Serving on the IPAS Commission in an advisory, non-voting capacity is one member of the Indiana Senate appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and one member of the Indiana House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The IPAS Commission meets four times a year, at the principal office of Indiana Protection & Advocacy Services located at 4701 N. Keystone Ave., Suite 222, Indianapolis, Indiana 46205. The 2015 meeting schedule is February 21, May 16, August 8 and November 14 following the Executive Session at 9:30 a.m., EST (Indianapolis time). Commission meetings are open to the public.
Public Policy Advocacy Opportunity Available - Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services Commission (IPAS) looks for new Commission and Mental Illness Advisory Council (MIAC) member applicants. Members must have a commitment to promoting the legal and civil rights of people with disabilities, and to the cause of protecting and promoting those individuals’ rights to make their own choices. Persons interested in applying for consideration should contact Karen Pedevilla, Education and Training Director, at 1-800-622-4845, ext. 452, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to view a brochure that gives more information on both the Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services Commission and Mental Illness Advisory Council.
Doug Goeppner has been a member of the IPAS Commission since May of 2008.
Throughout his professional career, Doug has pursued an ongoing interest in advocating for compliance with state and federal disability rights laws and regulations. He is currently the American’s with Disabilities Act Coordinator at the University of Southern Indiana, and was previously employed at IPAS for over 8 years as an Advocacy Specialist serving Southwestern Indiana. In addition to serving on the IPAS Commission, Doug is a community member of the Human Rights Committee at the Evansville State Hospital and of the Patient Rights Committee at the Evansville Psychiatric Children’s Center; is a member of the Evansville Goodwill Business Advisory Council; and is a past member and Chairperson of both the Strategic Initiatives Committee of the Indiana Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and of the Policy Council for the TRI-CAP Head Start program that serves Dubois, Pike, and Warrick Counties. Doug also regularly presents to community groups and organizations regarding disability issues and the ADA, and also provides consulting services and technical assistance to organizations that wish to improve their compliance with disability rights laws.
Doug has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Southern Indiana, and a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a member of the International Code Council, where he has earned his Certification as an Accessibility Inspector/Plans Examiner, and is also a Licensed Social Worker in the State of Indiana.
Melanie Motsinger first served on the IPAS Mental Illness Advisory Board for four years before becoming a Commission member in 2001. Melanie served as Commission Chairperson from 2008 to 2010.
Melanie's commitment to helping others started early in her life. As a teen she worked with children with disabilities at a local summer program and has also volunteered with the Christian Appalachian Project where she trained to work at a summer camp for children with hearing impairments and other disabilities. She has previously served on the board for the local National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) affiliate.
In addition to attending conferences, workshops, and seminars on topics such as Multiple Sclerosis, Autism, and Mental Illness, Melanie is working toward a bachelor’s degree at a local university.
Justin Ogden serves as a volunteer for various local and national organizations. Justin’s desire to advocate for disability rights began with recognition that many individuals were without a champion to advocate for their issues. Justin, who was born with a disability, works tirelessly in support of individuals with disabilities and charities. Justin served as a board member and president of Hear Indiana, a chapter of the Alexander Graham Bell Association, from 2007 to 2010. He currently serves the Indianapolis Rotary Club as a member of the World Service Committee.
He received a dual bachelor’s degree in political science and philosophy, with honors, from Butler University in 2004. Since receiving his undergraduate degree, he has worked as a paralegal and legal assistant with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Indianapolis.
In 2011, Justin expects to graduate with a master’s degree in public affairs from IUPUI. He looks forward to continued participation with not-for-profit organizations, and to attend law school in the future. Justin and his wife, Maya, live in Zionsville.
Nancy has been an IPAS Commission member since November 2012 and currently serves as the Chairperson of the Mental Illness Advisory Council of which she has been a member since October 2007. She is a self employed attorney with Slater Law Office, LLC, and has focused her law practice on disability law, elder law and special needs trusts. She has a strong interest in mental health law.
Nancy is a board-certified developmental pediatrician. She closed her medical practice in June, 2006 after practicing medicine for 25 years, to practice law full time. She specialized in primary care pediatrics and completed a 3 year fellowship in developmental-behavioral pediatrics.
Her memberships in groups and organizations are many. She is an active member of the American Bar Association (2000-present), Indiana State Bar Association (1999 to present), the Hamilton County Bar Association (2006 to present), and is a member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners, a national attorney group specialized in disability planning and special needs trusts, (2006 to present).
Nancy is also a current member of the Indiana State Medical Association (1981 to present), Fellow, American Academy of Pediatrics (1982 to present), and the Indiana Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics (1982 to present), where she served as the Chair of the School Health Committee from 1990 to 2005. Nancy has been a Volunteer Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Indiana University Medical Center since 1991.
Nancy is a member of both the Indiana and Indianapolis chapters of the National Association for Mental Illness (NAMI), C.H.A.D.D. (for children and adults with ADD), and Mental Health Association of Indiana.
Bill Riggs has been a member of the Commission since 2004.
As superintendent of the Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation, Bill has long been an advocate for children. His 39 years in education include teaching mathematics in a traditional setting and in an alternative school in Marion, IN, as well as, serving as a counselor, assistant principal, assistant superintendent, and superintendent while working for five different Indiana Schools. Having raised a child with special needs, Bill has first hand knowledge of the struggles and rewards in doing so.
Bill serves on the Boards of the Mental Health Association of Hancock County, Leadership Hancock County, Hancock County Education Alliance, Gallahue Mental Health Center, and the Hancock Economic Development Council.
Bill has a doctorate in educational administration from Indiana State University.
Kyle Lloyd has been an IPAS Commission member since 2010 and currently provides Peer Support services to Veterans through Mental Health Intensive Case Management Team efforts at VA Northern Indiana Healthcare System since mid-summer of 2007.
Following a 14 year career endeavor in Quality Engineering and industry experiences with commercial electrical equipment, medical devices, and automotive fasteners, Kyle changed his priorities and a significant causal effect occurred on September 11th, 2001 with the strike against America.
Kyle has served as a Recovery Peer Specialist at the Anderson Center for Mental Health's Assertive Community Treatment team and remains an active member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness since early 2004. He Chaired the NAMI Indiana State Consumer Counsel for two consecutive terms and presently mentors Veterans to participate in a Veterans Mental Health Council at VA Northern Indiana Healthcare System.
In support of his position, Kyle is a Certified Peer Specialist, credentialed by DBSA and Appalachian Consulting Group, and has a Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner credential from the United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association. He also coordinates Mental Illness Awareness Week observances at Marion and Fort Wayne VA Hospitals.
Kyle's Veteran advocacy interest is extensive and impassioned. He serves on the NAMI National Veterans Council as VISN 11 Coordinator, and assists Veterans in personal development of Wellness Recovery Action Plans.
Kyle is a Ball State University graduate and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Pre-Engineering. He resides close to the Mississinewa River in Marion, Indiana with a couple rambunctious cats.
Susan was born and raised in Miami County of Indiana. She has a bachelor’s degree in education from Ball State University specializing in home school and community relations. Her desire to advocate for disability rights began when Susan worked for Anthony Wayne Services of South Bend (AWS) from 2005-2006 where she worked closely with special need children. Susan decided to join and help serve the protection and advocacy system after taking the Qualified Mental Retardation Professional Designee course (QMRP-Designee) in 2011. After taking the course she was truly inspired by those around her and felt the need to do more. Through the years, she has been involved in a variety of organizations which include: Miami County 4-H Counsel (2007-2014), 4-H Memorial Scholarship Committee (2007-2014), Sigma Delta Pi Chapter Member (2012-2014), Miami County 19 Star Daughters of the American Revolution Treasurer (2013-2014) and a past Miami County Case Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer. Susan has also been a developmental therapist for AWS, a KinderVision operations manager and has worked in long-term care. Currently, Susan works as a substitute teacher at the Kokomo Special Education Co-op, Russiaville, IN. Through her diverse set of roles, she has decided to continue helping others, striving to be an inspiration to those around her.
Robert moved to Indiana in 1983 after growing up in California. He started his own company, Walson and Company Incorporated, in Columbus, IN during 1983. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley then continued his education by receiving his master’s and later on his PhD from the University of Illinois.
Robert began getting involved with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) after his son had been diagnosed with long-term mental illness. He started locally with NAMI Indianapolis, then got involved with NAMI Indiana and NAMI National over time, while working for his own company and teaching chemistry and physics at Butler University (1995-2010). After 15 years of teaching, he retired and has remained active in the community through volunteering at his church. Through NAMI Indianapolis, he continues to teach classes with families called “Family to Family”. He regularly volunteers at St. Vincent’s hospital with his adult son.
Linda Driggs officially became a Commission member in January 2014. Born and raised in Cheyenne, Wyoming, she ventured to Hastings, Nebraska for college after high school, which is where she met her husband of 40 years, Daniel Driggs. Linda has lived in Nebraska, Wyoming and Ohio. She and her family now reside in Frankfort, Indiana. They have two daughters.
Linda has studied mostly science, medical law and math. Through college, she helped with a Sunday school class for kids with special needs. Linda was the executive director of the Cheyenne Respite Program. When she found out their daughter was hearing impaired, Linda became a stage mom for Hands in Harmony, a sign-language stage troupe and later joined the board of directors of Wyoming Independent Living Rehabilitation.
After moving to Indiana, Linda became active in the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) where she became a facilitator of the Family to Family Program. Linda graduated from the Partners in Policymaking Program in Indianapolis. She is active at her church and spends a lot of time helping her children, foster children, grandchildren, foster grandchildren and friends. When she has time, she likes helping with Special Olympics and NAMI activities. However all through motherhood for her two daughters, she has always been advocating for them. Linda wants to help guide the policy of organizations that are there to advocate and protect those facing challenges they didn’t choose and feels IPAS is the perfect place to assist. Ultimately, Linda explains that justice, mercy and humility are the guidance she takes to her IPAS Commission position.
Lisa Wells has been working with Indiana nonprofits since 1998. Her involvement in the disability community began when she was in high school and her love for the cause has only grown since. Her membership and participation in groups and organizations are many.
Lisa serves as the Executive Director of Down Syndrome Indiana, where she has been since 2006. She is the Chair of the State of Down Syndrome Workgroup for the Affiliates in Action Down Syndrome Trade Association. Lisa is the Chair of the Indiana Postsecondary Education Coalition and a member of the advisory group for CYACC (Center for Youth and Adults with Conditions of Childhood) at Riley Children’s Hospital. She serves on the Johnson County Maternal and Child Health Team and is a longstanding volunteer for Meals on Wheels of Hamilton County.
Lisa has a Bachelor’s degree in Civic Leadership from IUPUI and is completing her Masters in Strategic Leadership and Design at the University of Indianapolis. Lisa resides in Fishers with her husband, three children and their golden retriever.
Marci Haw has been an IPAS Commission member since 2013. She was born in Indianapolis and raised in Auburn.
Through the years, Marci has been involved with a variety of groups, including serving as a board member for the Near East Side Community organization. Marci co-led a multi-organizational ad hoc committee that successfully held Marion County Community Corrections accountable for the placement of a large-scale work release facility.
Marci received a Bachelor of Music Education from Butler University, with a special interest in incorporating special needs into the classroom. Marci’s interest in advocating for disability rights started early in life as she grew up with several family friends who struggled with learning disabilities. Marci highly values the mission and vision of IPAS, particularly related to the potential for systemic change at a state level.
Theresa M. Willard is an attorney and registered mediator with the firm Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP in Indianapolis. Theresa provides legal services to individuals with special needs and their families and care providers, primarily in the areas of insurance coverage, education, and estate planning. Her practice also includes substantial work in environmental and insurance coverage litigation.
Theresa is a former judicial clerk for the Hon. Patricia A. Riley of the Indiana Court of Appeals. She has written extensively on the Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure, working with Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law Dean- and Professor Emeritus William Harvey on his Indiana Practice volumes, the foremost treatise on Indiana Trial Rules.
Prior to practicing law, Theresa spent time as a preschool teacher, a private music instructor, and a homeschool educator. She has served as a conference speaker on the topic of homeschooling students with disabilities, and she has been published on the subject of government special education funding mechanisms and their effect on the diagnosis and placement of students with special needs.
Theresa has served in numerous leadership roles in the community over the years. She has been very active with Special Olympics as a parent, coach, and volunteer, serves as a member of the Indiana Youth and Government Advisory Board, and sits on the advisory council for the Legal Aid Centre of Eldoret in Kenya, Africa. Theresa previously served on the Indiana State Advisory Council on Children with Disabilities, volunteered with Project Peace, served on the Development Committee for the Indiana Autism Society, and sat on the Board of Directors for the Carmel Community Players, a community theatre in Hamilton County, Indiana.
Theresa received her B.A. in Sociology from Indiana University, Bloomington and her J.D., magna cum laude, from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. She is a member of the Indiana State, Indianapolis, and Hamilton County Bar Associations. Theresa was appointed to the Commission by Governor Mike Pence in 2014.
Mary Hunnicutt has been a member of the IPAS Commission since September 2014. Mary was born in Huntington and raised in Fort Wayne, IN. Mary serves as a Program Manager at Bethesda Lutheran Communities in Fort Wayne, IN. She has worked with children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities for over 36 years. Mary’s greatest strengths are her creativity, drive and advocating for individuals with special needs and thrives on challenges.
Mary holds a bachelors degree from Indiana University. In her free time she enjoys traveling, photography, reading and spending quality time with family and friends.
Sen. Jean Leising has been an IPAS Advisory Member since 2011. She is currently serving in the Indiana State Senate, elected in 2008. She also served from 1988-1996 and served as Senate assistant majority whip from 1994-1996. As a state senator, Jean serves Decatur, Fayette, Franklin, Henry, Ripley, Rush and Shelby counties.
Jean serves as chair of the Provider Services Subcommittee and as co-chair of the Indiana Legislative Rural Caucus. Other committees of which she is a member include Commerce and Economic Development, Education and Career Development, Health and Provider Services, Utilities and Technology and the Indiana Corn Marketing Council.
Jean’s civic involvement encompasses her membership at the Indiana Farm Bureau, where she was named Woman of the Year in 1984, as well as her past presidency at the Indiana Corn Growers Association in 1986.
Jean has achieved many awards and recognitions throughout her life, most recently, the American Legion of Indiana’s Distinguished Public Service Award in 2009, and the Indiana Volunteer Firefighter Association’s Legislator of the Year, the New Horizons Partnership Award and the Paul Roahrig Memorial President’s Award all in 2010.
Jean is a farm owner, travel agent and retired nurse. She was salutatorian of Sunman High School and graduated with honors from the Good Samaritan College of Nursing in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is married to husband Frank and has three children and eight grandchildren.
Representative Dale DeVon was elected into the Indiana General Assembly in November 2012. He was born and raised in Clay Township and has lived in Granger for the past 23 years.
In the 80s, Rep. DeVon began his first business as a contractor, and in 1995, he started DeVon Custom Homes, a business he still operates today. In 1997, Dale became a national director for the Home Builders Association and also served as local president for St. Joe Valley in 1998. Rep. DeVon still serves as the state and national director of the Home Builders Association where he continues to advocate for safe and affordable housing in St. Joe County. In 2002, he was elected to St. Joe County Council district C where he served as chairman of the Land Use Committee.
Rep. DeVon's passion, however, is helping youth. He previously served as the Sr. High Youth Group Leader at New Life Christian Fellowship. Today, Rep. DeVon meets with youth at the Juvenile Justice Center and is also on the school board for The Crossing, a school for at-risk youth.
Rep. DeVon and his wife, Christine, have been married for 34 years and have three children and two grandchildren.
To contact one of the commissioners, please send your comments to IPAS in care of the Executive Director.
Dawn Adams, Executive Director
Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services
4701 N. Keystone Ave., Suite 222
Indianapolis, IN 46205