Prior to taking his current position at NWCCI as of August 2013, Ian was Executive Director at the Center for People with Disabilities (the ILC based in Boulder) and before that he was Executive Director for the SouthWest Center for Independence with a main office in Durango. Ian sustained a spinal cord injury in a 40 foot fall from a tree on October 1, 1994. He was hired as an advocate with Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service, defending and enforcing the rights of people with disabilities, this work focused on investigating abuse and neglect in nursing homes as well as state and private institutions. Ian quickly developed a life-long passion for working with people to have more freedom and control over our own lives through exercising our right to choose and direct community-based services. Ian began delivering speeches and facilitating workshops on the conference circuit for human rights and social justice non-profit organizations, with a focus on nursing home transition and person-centered planning. Ian gained experience handling administrative duties, managing organizational budgets, facilitating dialogue-based interactive learning in participatory workshops, and organizing people to effectively address systemic issues in order to affect public policy. He enjoys connecting people with resources to further independence for many who are capable of doing more, in the larger community, for themselves and each other.
Our Office Manager, Leslie Bensching, comes to us with 10 years of administrative experience with the Oregon Health Division, as well as, 8 years combined experience in the Oregon and Washington court system, as a court clerk. Leslie was in charge of her own department, overseeing hearings/trials and working cases directly appealed to the Superior Court of Appeals. For NWCCI, she handles all accounts, payables and receivables, runs our volunteer program, puts together and maintains employee files and provides human resource support as well as taking a lead on marketing and fundraising duties. Leslie’s customer service and organizational skills contribute to the smooth flow of the daily routine for the office.
Independent Living Coordinator
Micheal was born and raised in Hayden, CO, as a family member of a person who is blind. He served with the Marine Corps from 2000-2005 where he was an aviation electrician. He earned his BA in Social Services in 2012. In 2013 he started working at NWCCI as an IL Coordinator serving individuals with Disabilities. He excels in working with people to access assistive technology and provides training on the use of devices for people who are able to better reach goals for living well in the community through the use of these technological supports. Micheal also provides independent living skills development support which consists of budgeting, navigating services, employment related training, and effectively choosing and directing the supports needed to reach goals for living well in the community. Micheal works with people to set goals and develop plans with specific action steps that detail who does what by when within a strategic framework. His efforts work to put people with disabilities in control of our own lives through the development of an independent living plan that effectively coordinates services and supports around the individual’s with whom he works.
Independent Living Coordinator (Grand County)
Mary has been a Grand County resident for over nine years. She is an active community member advocating for healthy and growing people living in community, She has been involved with Advocates, Grand Futures Prevention Coalition, Young Life, PRC, Dept. of Social Services, a co-founder of The Bridge Grand County and is currently the Independent Living Coordinator serving Grand County for NWCCI. Mary is a compassionate and creative strategic connector. She has a six sense-ability to define core issues and find resolutions. She is closely acquainted with the systemic and service issues that make personal growth and wellness challenge for people with disabilities and older adults. Her personal pursuits in Experiential Education has lead her to assist many in overcoming the past and living in the present with hope for the future. Mary enjoys the outdoors, learning of other cultures through travel, speaking French and some Spanish and has a passion for all things nutritious and savory. Her background education is in dietetics and a masters in experiential education with a focus on adult learning.
Peer Support & Outreach Coordinator
Jerry grew up with Epilepsy and is an example of living well with a disability. He earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Work in 2005 in Los Angeles. For three years he worked with The Salvation Army serving the homeless and HIV population. He moved to Steamboat Springs, CO in 2009. In 2012, he started working for NWCCI as a Low Vision Consultant and attended a week long training at Colorado Center of the Blind. Jerry specializes in facilitating peer and action group activities, working to connect people who use services with the organizations providing community-based supports. Jerry facilitates opportunities for people who use community-based services to engage in meaningful dialog and action with the organizations who provide these supports, through Jerry’s efforts services for people with disabilities are enhanced to be more accessible, inclusive and accommodating.
Cindy comes to us with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education and an Associate Degree in Business Travel and Hospitality Management. Cindy operates as a certified More SOAR advocate, More SOAR stand for SSI/SSDI Outreach Access and Recovery. As a More SOAR Disability Benefits Advocate she assists individuals with disabilities to access Social Security Administration benefits and income, as well as basic medical and mental health services. If you have experienced a major life change and find yourself in the position of having acquired a permanent disability, Cindy works with you to access the basic foundational supports needed to stabilize your life.
Sandy is an Independent Living Coordinator for NWCCI serving consumers in Summit County. She began her involvement with the independent living movement by previously serving as a member of the Colorado Statewide Independent Living Council. She worked as an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) specialist and trainer for five years with the Rocky Mountain ADA Center, which is managed by Meeting the Challenge, Inc. In that role, she provided ADA technical assistance, implementation and self-advocacy guidance, training, information and referral, and was the lead writer for a variety of ADA publications. For three years, Sandy wrote a guest column for the Summit Daily News titled “Disability 101” focusing on disability awareness and etiquette. Sandy started her career as a special education teacher working with middle, high school, and transition students with intellectual, learning, psychiatric and physical disabilities. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education and Elementary Education from the University of Northern Colorado.
Beverly joined the NWCCI team in January 2014 with extensive experience providing clerical support. Her primary duties, tasks and responsibilities revolve around our organization’s goal to be environmentally conscious. This includes, but is not limited to, shredding, recycling, and working to assure that NWCCI is a clean and healthy work environment.
Richard maintains the two NWCCI lift equipped vans and provides non-emergency medical and non-medical transportation for people with disabilities. He comes in with years of experience driving for Alpine Taxi and is a person who has experience living and working in the community with a disability. Richard has a healthy, jovial and supportive attitude that is conducive to an enjoyable experience as he assists people to access the tools and resources in the community needed to reach goals for living well.
Laura was born in New York and grew up in a suburb of Kansas City. In her 28 years of marriage, she’s lived in eight different states – and no, she wasn’t in a military family. That’s why Laura has such an unusual accent – eastern, southern and midwestern. Laura has two adult children. She received her BS in Psychology from the University of North Carolina in 1990. Her hobbies include playing bridge, reading and lunching with the ladies… and she’s very proud to be a part of NWCCI.
Montezuma ‘Zuma’ Engle
Zuma provides moral support and comic relief for the NWCCI office staff as well as direct service for his owner. After being hit by a car in November 2013, the day before his first birthday, the Steamboat Pilot ran an article about him that has brought widespread community attention to how service animals allow people with disabilities to better reach goals for living well in the setting of our choice.