Rick Sides (Executive Director)
Our executive director has 20 years of experience with CILs and 15 years as an executive director. Rick Sides started off in 1991, as a volunteer with the previous Wayne County CIL. He moved up to I&R specialist, peer support and CIO (Chief Information Officer), until he became its executive director.
This cross-knowledge in different area gives Rick Sides the knowledge and experience to know the inner workings of Disability Network’s various departments.
Among his various responsibilities as ED, he does grant writing, runs day-to-day operations and does outreach to other organizations. During these hard times, collaborations are very important toward the purpose of helping people with disabilities in need. Rick Sides is also the liaison to DN’s various funding sources
Shayna Smith (Operations Manager)
Our operations manager, Shayna Smith, came to Disability Network as an AmeriCorps volunteer in 2005. She ended up being hired by DN in 2006 and was made operations manager in 2008.
Some of Shayna’s expertise includes blind/visually impaired services, as well as assistive technology (AT). On request, she can present AT to the community to become more familiar with it.
According to her, “A lot of people with disabilities don’t know what AT is or have experience with it, especially for those that have acquired their disability. It can really enhance their independence.”
John Williamson (Program Manager)
Previously an IL specialist, John Williamson is Disability Network’s new program manager. He has been with DN since 2003 and received his promotion in 2011.
John brings a cross-knowledge in different areas to the program manager position, in order to help people with disabilities to achieve maximum independence.
As program manager, attends meeting in the community on our behalf, including monthly meetings with MRS. John supervises staff that is assigned to the MRS offices. Lastly, he maintains collaborative relationships with agency heads in Lansing.
Diane Catlett (Director of Finance)
Diane Catlett, Disability Network’s director in finance, has been part of our staff since 2009. She has over 20 years of working with CILs.
Diane is in charge of billings, budgets, payroll and other duties that are parts of day-to-day fiscal operations.
Gregory Gee (IL Specialist)
Greg Gee is one of Disability Network’s most recently arrived staff members. Arriving in 2010, he is another one of our IL specialists.
Greg is assigned to the Milwaukee and Fort St MRS offices, where he provides a variety of assistance centered around Disability Network’s core services. At the Milwaukee office, he leads peer support sessions where his groups focus their discussions regarding substance abuse and recovery. Greg also connects them with available community services for which they are eligible. Also, he presents Disability Network services at MRS orientations for incoming clients to begin to understand their independent living options.
Lisa Byars (STW Specialist)
Lisa Byars has been with Disability Network over five years. In her role within the organization, she is the school-to-work (STW) transition specialist. Lisa Byars covers Mumford High School, as well as Charles R. Drew Middle School.
Among the services that she provides the students:
- Mentoring pregnant teens,
- Teaching IL (independent living) skills, including advocacy, assertiveness and employment skills
- Providing community outreach
Besides helping the students, Lisa Byars also helps their parents and other supports. She facilitates parent workshops and offers school presentations of DN services upon request.
Beatrice Ricci (IL Specialist)
One of our recent employees, Beatrice Ricci has been with Disability Network since 2010. She covers the Porter St Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) office, as well as their Schools office.
As an Independent Living (IL) specialist, Beatrice mostly provides peer support, as well as teaching consumers about mobility training mostly through fee-for-service authorizations, as well as other consumers that may need help.
Wanda Travis (IL Specialist)
Wanda Travis works out of the Wayne and Livonia MRS offices, where she facilitates the pre-employment program.
In addition the helping provide advocacy to eliminate consumer barriers, Wanda, also, provides peer support and teaches mobility training, budgeting and other aspects of independent living.
Paul Johnson III (NHT Specialist)
Paul Johnson, one of our nursing home transition (NHT) specialists, has been with Disability Network since 2008, when he started the DNWCD’s NHT program. In addition to being an NHT specialist, he is also a MMAP (Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program) counselor.
As an NHT specialist, he works to help consumers transition out of nursing homes. In many cases, the transitioned people may need supportive services to maintain their independence, so Paul helps them to get the help that they might need. He helps to cover all of Wayne County, which includes 77 nursing homes in Detroit, as well as others throughout.
Also, Paul helps to foster collaborations between other community agencies such as Detroit Area Agency on Aging (DAAA), The Senior Alliance, MRS and others that can tie into NHT’s objectives.
Besides being an NHT specialist, Paul is a MMAP (Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program) counselor. In this role, he helps Medicaid and Medicare eligible individuals to find insurance plan appropriate for them.
Peter Kyles (NHT Specialist)
Peter Kyles has been with Disability Network for one year. Previously, he worked as a restorative aide at Samaritan Manor.
Peter Kyles’ area is nursing home transition (NHT). He helps individuals living in nursing homes to transition into semi-independent lives in the community. Part of what Peter Kyles does includes helping them with getting identification (birth certificate, state ID, etc), in order to get a lease. Also, he helps them with getting necessary medical equipment. Most importantly, Peter Kyles serves as an advocate for the individuals that he works with
He covers all sorts of nursing homes that span most of Wayne County. Peter Kyles stresses the important of word of mouth.
He says, “If you help one [individual], word will spread. ‘Call that guy. He’ll get you out.’”