Marty Roberts, President
Marty Roberts, who lives in Montpelier, has been a member of the VCIL board since 2002. She has been most recently employed at Washington County Mental Health Services as a recovery educator, and also does the same work at the Vermont State Hospital. She is a co-facilitator of the Adult Program Standing Committee for the Vermont Department of Mental Health, and is a longtime member and current president of the board of Vermont Psychiatric Survivors. For fun, she enjoys music, art, writing, reading, travel and walks in the Vermont woods. Marty says that it is her privilege and pleasure to serve VCIL, whose staff are dedicated to cross-disability participation in the mission of independent living.
Sam Liss, Vice President
Sam Liss is a native New Yorker who has lived in Sunderland, Vt., since 1999. He has a degree in pharmaceutical sciences from Columbia University, with post-graduate work at the University of Connecticut. He was a practicing pharmacist before diverting his vocation to teaching after he began to feel the effects of a perplexing progressive neuromuscular condition. During his time in Connecticut, he became involved with advocacy for people with disabilities, mainly through an affiliation with the independent living center serving northwestern Connecticut and with its advocacy arm. More recently, Sam pursued the goal of work incentive legislation, both on a state and federal level. Sam joined the VCIL Board of Directors in March 2000. He was elected vice president of VCIL and chairman of the Program Committee in October 2001 and has been actively involved ever since. He is a member of the Statewide Independent Living Council and the Vermont State Rehabilitation Council. Sam has taught pharmacology for the last several years at the Southwest Vermont Career Development Center in Bennington as part of a curriculum that he co-developed. He has been on the staff and faculty of Vermont Technical College for 10-plus years – instructing human anatomy and physiology, pharmacology and various other scientifically-oriented courses within the nursing curriculum. His hobbies include producing and hosting a quiz show broadcast live on Catamount Access TV in Bennington.
Ed Paquin, Treasurer
Ed Paquin, of Barre Town, Vt., received a BA in the Study of Religions from the University of Vermont in 1975. He worked in various trades from silversmithing to carpentry, until an injury in 1988 took him off roofs and structures and landed him, two years later, into politics. He served 12 years in the Vermont House of Representatives and has, since 2002, served as executive director of Disability Rights Vermont (formerly Vermont Protection & Advocacy, Inc.), working to protect and expand the rights of people with disabilities. Ed enjoys playing music, sled hockey and handcycling. He believes that civil rights activism brings benefit to all of society, that common ground is good — though a disagreement now and then keeps things lively! He believes we weren’t put here to make life hard for each other and he dreams of a day when our contact with “the system” is a comfort, not a trauma.
John Pierce, Secretary
After many years working for the Vermont Department of Mental Health, John Pierce is not happily retired. John was an administrator with responsibilities for program and systems development, human resource development, financing, evaluation and grant writing and grant project directing. He had roles in Vermont’s public mental health system evolution over the last 25 years in programs for people with major mental illness, child and family mental health services, trauma services and various Medicaid waiver programs. He has a graduate degree (MEd) from the University of Vermont. During his time with the state, John worked with (and admired) VCIL for its commitment to helping people with disabilities, including mental health issues. John is enjoying retirement, spending his time volunteering with human service related boards and councils and the Multiple Sclerosis Society. John has had multiple sclerosis for 25 years and is in the so-called “late cane” stage of mobility difficulties.
Henry Demar joined VCIL’s Board of Directors in 2010. A native of St. Albans, he worked construction from the age of 18 until suffering a heart attack at age 40. Henry said for years he has been trying to get laws changed to make life easier for people with disabilities. That’s why he was very pleased to become a member of an organization that fights for people with disabilities. One of Henry’s primary goals is making hunting and fishing accessible to all Vermonters. He would like to hear from anyone with disabilities who because of restrictive laws is prevented from doing the activities he or she once enjoyed. Henry lives and breathes hunting and fishing. He also enjoys taking photographs of wildlife. He is a former board member of the Sportsman’s Club of Franklin County.
John K. Hall of Newport City joined VCIL’s Board of Directors in 2006. He has long been acquainted with disability. An accident in his teens resulted in a brain injury, leaving him with a balance problem and a slight speech impediment. John has a long history of public service, having served two terms in the Vermont House of Representatives. He has served on numerous boards in the Northeast Kingdom, where he has lived all his life. He says his reason for joining VCIL’s board is that although the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990, a lot of people still do not understand what it means to have a disability. He hopes there will come a day when people with disabilities are truly treated equally. John’s wife, Harriet Hall, is also a disability rights advocate in Vermont. They have two sons. John enjoys the outdoors, travel and, as he puts it, experiencing life to the fullest.
Claudia Inés Pringles
Claudia Pringles of Montpelier joined VCIL’s Board of Directors in 2010. She was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and immigrated to the United States with her family as an infant, settling in the Southern California area. Claudia is a special needs planning attorney in private practice. She earned her undergraduate degree in economics in 1992 and her J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1998. Claudia is an active volunteer and has a passion for advocating for people with disabilities, particularly individuals with developmental disabilities and autism. She is a family consultant for the Vermont Family Network (formerly known as VPIC and Parent to Parent), where she helps families navigate developmental (disability) services. She co-chairs the Vermont Autism Task Force and also co-chairs the state Autism Plan Advisory Committee. Claudia and family have lived in Montpelier since 2004. She is the proud parent of two young daughters, including a daughter on the autism spectrum. She enjoys politics, cooking, Vermont seasons, tae kwon do and speaks fluent Spanish.
Zak Schmoll, who has lived in Central Vermont his entire life, joined VCIL’s Board of Directors in 2010. He attended Orange Center School and Spaulding High School where he was salutatorian before proceeding to the University of Vermont. He is currently enrolled in the Honors College and pursuing a bachelor of science in business administration with a concentration in accounting as well as a bachelor of science in statistics with an anticipated graduation of 2013. All of the school work occupies much of his time, but he has still managed to devote a lot of time to athletics. Recently, he has become particularly enamored with power soccer, a four-on-four game with very similar rules to regulation soccer. It is played on a basketball court by power wheelchair users. He has worked as a professional journalist covering the Central Vermont sports scene and loving every minute of it. He hopes to be able to apply what he is learning in school for the benefit of VCIL and the people it assists.
Gary Snyder became a VCIL board member in 2011. Born and raised in Putney, he has lived in Brattleboro for the past few years. He has tried to help people all of his life, including during the 15 years he worked as an EMT. Gary has been retired since a fall in 2006 left him with a spinal cord injury. His disability has not kept him from being extremely active in his community. He serves on Brattleboro’s ADA Advisory Committee, which has worked, among other things, to improve the town’s sidewalks. He is also a familiar face at Brattleboro Board of Selectmen meetings. Gary says he wants to improve life for everyone, and that is part of the reason he is constantly spreading the word about VCIL’s programs. In his free time, Gary enjoys fishing, being outdoors and cheering for the Miami Dolphins.
Currently the financial director for the Vermont Department of Labor, Charlie Teske was previously finance officer at VCIL, helping it regain financial stability after a period of staff turnover. He came to VCIL from the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services where he had the opportunity to work with former VCIL Executive Director Deborah Lisi-Baker on accessibility issues facing the state’s battered women’s shelters. It is his great hope to increase the fund-raising activities of VCIL’s Board of Directors in order to provide the organization with additional resources to fulfill its mission.
Joellen Valley of Waterbury Center joined VCIL’s Board of Directors in September 2008. She has been associated with VCIL for years and has received assistance from the Sue Williams Freedom Fund and Home Access Program. Joellen’s disabilities include multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, polymyalgia rheumatica and diabetes. Because of her disabilities, Joellen says, she wants to be able to use the abilities she has to help other disabled people. She would like to see more people take an interest in participating on VCIL’s board and its committees. Disability touches everyone’s life, she notes. If you’re not disabled, she says, you know someone who is. Joellen has lived in Vermont since 1971 and worked in finance at the Vermont State Hospital for 16 years before retiring in 1989. She serves on the Attendant Services Program Eligibility Committee and writes a monthly column, “The Prayer Closet,” for her church newsletter. Joellen has one dog, Rusty MacGregor, and in her free time enjoys crafts, gardening and reading.