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, At Large Member
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.
Maureen Mayo joined VCIL’s Board of Directors in 2016. She lives with her husband, Bill, in Northfield, Vt. A longtime champion of the disability rights movement, in 1985 Maureen sustained a traumatic brain injury in a car accident. She spent three years in a rehab hospital in Boston before being discharged into an apartment to live independently. In her post-disability life, Maureen, a former marathon runner, needed to find an outlet for her boundless energy. She decided to focus on disability work and joined VCIL in 1995 as a peer advocate counselor. In 1996, she became an advocacy specialist for VCIL. Maureen retired in 2011 and is pleased to be back as a board member because she thinks VCIL’s mission is important and should be broadcast to as many people as possible. “In a way, I don’t feel like I ever left,” she says.
Irving Payne of Jeffersonville, Vt., became a VCIL board member in the summer of 2016. He grew up in Paterson, N.J., and has also spent time in New York City, where he worked in the music industry as a studio vocalist. Irving studied music at Bronx Community College and also attended SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he was in a few bands, even serving as a lead vocalist for one called Mystic Touch that put out a hit record in 1980. Living a rock-and-roll lifestyle, Irving got into trouble with drugs and alcohol (a problem that he overcame years ago) and as a result, has a compromised liver. Irving moved to Vermont in 1996 and promptly fell in love with the Green Mountain State. Over the past few years, he has held a variety of jobs, including as a sheet metal worker. He has recently started a video production company and wants to use his filmmaking skills to help raise awareness that, as he puts it, people with disabilities have a right to live with dignity—just like everyone else. While Irving is committed to the disability rights movement, the most important thing in his life is his two children, Maleena and Gabriel.
Bryan Pritchard of Morrisville is currently employed by The National Life Group, selling solutions to everyday problems via life insurance and annuities. For fun, he enjoys sports, music, relaxing with friends and travel. He is excited and honored to be a board member of VCIL, an organization that truly helps those in need.
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.
Stuart Soboleski, of South Albany, Vt., became a VCIL board member in the fall of 2015. As a Deaf person who grew up in a Deaf family, he has been educated and employed in both Deaf schools and in mainstreamed settings in public schools. He holds a degree in special education from the University of Connecticut. Stuart now works as a farmer because he has a strong interest in social and ecological justice. He believes that agriculture can be a great equalizer because it brings people’s feet back to the ground. He wants to make life easier and more equal for everybody, while developing a better understanding of Vermont’s current and future path for people who are different. Stuart said, “I believe that people do matter, no matter what. And I would like to serve those who are overlooked and underserved, and to remind people that every one of us brings something unique to the world.”