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Welcome to the 2022 Annual APRIL Conference

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An image of two tie dye hands embracing in a way that forms the outline of a heart. Around this image are the words "The Power of Peer Support. APRIL Conference 2022."

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Greetings from Dan Kessler, Interim Executive Director

Tie dye background with a headshot photo of Dan Kessler. Dan is a white main with glasses and dark blonde hair and facial hair. Under his photo are the words: Dan Kessler. Interim Executive Director of APRIL.



Welcome to APRIL’s 28th Annual conference being held the week of October 10-14. The theme of this year’s conference is the “Power of Peer Support.” Peer support is one of independent living’s core services...and more. Peer support is at the foundation of who we are as centers for independent living and state independent living councils. It is how we relate to one another, how we advocate, how we learn, and how we work.

This year’s conference will include the Youth conference (for those under age 30) and a pre-conference. Our keynote speakers are Jill Jacobs, Commissioner of the Administration on Disabilities and Amy Ballinger from a CIL (Center for Independent Living) in Kansas. Amy will be discussing living in the long-covid area, an emerging issue that CILs (Center for Independent Living) will be addressing. We have many powerful speakers who will be covering topics such as the details of building a peer support programs, diversity and inclusion, peer support in rural areas, ways to advance our priorities in the managed care system, engaging farm workers, a peer support group for staff providing core services, a peer support group for CIL leadership, an open conversation about mental health, and so much more. 

Thanks to our sponsors, presenters, staff, board, communications team, interpreters, captioners, and most importantly—those of you who will be participating in the 2022 APRIL conference.


Dan Kessler, APRIL Interim Executive Director    

Greetings from Kimberly Tissot, APRIL Board President

An image of Kimberly Tissot with a tie dye background. Kimberly is a white woman with red hair. She uses crutches and has one leg. Under this photo are the words: Kimberly Tissot. 2022 APRIL Board President.


Greetings Independent Living Family,

On behalf of the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) Board of Directors, I welcome you to the 2022 conference:  Power of Peer Support! While we were so excited to bring folks back in-person, COVID-19 caused significant barriers to ensuring equitable experiences in a state that limited us with creating that environment. While COVID-19 caused tragic loss among the disability community-- the thought of potentially causing more loss was just unimaginable. So, thank you for adapting with us for what we guarantee will be a fulfilling conference where we gather and share the latest advancements to IL programming and advocacy that will recharge you and your colleagues in rural IL and beyond.

APRIL has been busy this year! With Billy Altom's retirement, we had a leadership transition. We welcomed our interim Executive Director, Dan Kessler. We conducted strategic planning, and positioned APRIL to increase our support, membership engagement, advocacy efforts, and tools to equip programs within CILs nationwide! We appreciate everyone who has been part of the movement, and we are so honored to have the opportunity to continue to build IL leaders!

While I have you, I want to express my gratitude to the APRIL staff--- we couldn't be where we are without you all! Your dedication, grit, and grace are admirable. To the Board of Directors-- you all are rocks. I am grateful for your commitment and efforts to continue furthering independent Living. To our sponsors-- I am in awe of all of you. Thank you for joining us in building independent Living and ensuring disability justice is incorporated into all we do. There are no amount of words to express our gratitude.

And last but not least, thank you to our conference attendees for all you do in the field, especially throughout the last few years during some of our darkest days of COVID-19. You all have significant power with being a part of disability-led organizations. It's time for us to continue equipping ourselves to show the substantial impact of Independent Living. We can do this!

Lastly, please consider joining APRIL as a member or renewing your membership. Encourage your IL Network and partners to join. It is time to protect and build our movement to ensure equity among the disability community and that we lead the disability space. APRIL is only as strong as its members, and we need you.

With disability pride,

Kimberly Tissot, APRIL Board President

Meet Our Keynote Speakers!


Jill Jacobs, Commissioner of the Administration on Disabilities will be our Welcome Speaker on Tuesday, October 11.

Headshot of Jill Jacobs, a white woman with black rimmed glasses and long dark hair swept to the side.  Text around this image says: Meet Jill Jacobs. Commissioner of the Administration on Disabilities. Jill Jacobs is joining us as our APRIL 2022 Conference Welcome Speaker on Tuesday, October 11, 2022.

Jill Jacobs was appointed to serve as the Commissioner of ACL’s Administration on Disabilities on Feb. 14, 2022. Ms. Jacobs has more than two decades of professional experience managing disability services organizations, analyzing policy, and working toward improved health and disability programs and services at local, state, and federal levels. She also has been an active grassroots organizer, leading campaigns to depict President Franklin D. Roosevelt seated in his wheelchair in the national monument in Washington, D.C. and to ensure the inclusion of disabled children in schools, and organizing disaster response efforts for people with disabilities following Hurricanes Harvey and Maria, to name just a few of her accomplishments.


Amy Ballinger of Independence, Inc. will be our Keynote Speaker on Thursday, October 14.

Amy Ballinger, a white woman with long blonde hair smiles at the camera. Around the images is the text: Meet Amy Ballinger with Independence, Inc. Amy is our APRIL 2022 Keynote Speaker and will be presenting on "Living in the Long-Covid Era: Diagnosis to Disability and Everything In Between" on Thursday, October 13, 2022.

Amy will be talking about “Living in the Long-Covid Era: Diagnosis to Disability and Everything in Between”.

Amy is a lifelong Kansan with a Degree in Marketing and Broadcast Journalism from the University of Kansas and worked in educational settings, including Baker University, before moving into self-employment and finally transitioning to Non-profit disability services in 2016. Amy is the Community Engagement Manager and Social Support and Resource Specialist for Independence, Inc. and she and her husband currently reside in Olathe, KS with their children and grandchildren nearby.

When asked "what does peer support mean to you?", Amy had this to say:

“A person in a peer support role can listen, encourage, inform and assist someone navigate life in light of a newly acquired disability or other significant change to health or life circumstances.  Through the sharing of similar lived experience, identifying coping mechanisms and assisting in skill-building strategies, a peer is an essential piece of the puzzle in helping another person to regain a sense of equilibrium, find stability, regain confidence and independence, and to maintain a vibrant, active and healthy life."


Thank you to our 2022 Conference Sponsors

CENTENE LogoElevance Health Sponsor information. A dark blue background showing an image of a two people from the back. One is walking and wearing a backpack and the other is in a wheelchair. Above them it says "Supporting the next generation and the power of peer support".


ADA National Network logo in dark blue and white color scheme. Under the logo is the phrase "information, guidance, and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act"


Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation logo. There is a red and orange abstract flame image with the words "Today's Care. Tomorrow's Cure".Ford Foundation logo

Special thank you to the Ford Foundation for sponsoring all 54 of our Youth Conference attendees under age 30.


Ability360 Logo


Disability Link logo in dark blue and orange color scheme. Under the logo are the words "disABILITY link. The center for rights and resources."


University of Montana RTC: Rural logo that says "Rural Institute. Research and Training Center on disability in rural communities. RTC rural is part of the rural institute for inclusive communities at the University of Montana".


Arizona SILC logo. Image of a yellow sun behind the "AR" of Arizona. Text under this logo says: Statewide Independent Living Council. Equality. Inclusion. Choice.


Idaho State Independent Living Council logo

Thank you to the Idaho SILC for being a youth conference sponsor. 

The Idaho State Independent Living Council (SILC) actively engages in activities that help provide Idahoans with disabilities a greater voice in obtaining services that are consumer responsive, cost effective and community based.  We are solutions oriented: collaborating with people with disabilities, public agencies, and private, non-profit and for-profit organizations to improve the quality of life and increase independence for Idahoan’s with disabilities.

The SILC upholds the principles of the Independent Living movement: consumer control, peer support, self-help, self-determination, equity, equal access and positive systemic change through individual and systemic advocacy, maximizing opportunities available to all Idahoans. We are the only statewide organization governed by a majority of people with disabilities that serves Idahoans across disabilities and lifespan. 

Connect with us on Social Media!






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