• Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share via Email
Mark D. Allan, Allan Associates Architects, PLLC

Mark D. Allan is the Owner of Allan Associates Architects, PLLC. The Firm focuses on Low Income Housing Rehabilitation renovating existing multi-family housing to comply with current Building Codes, Energy Standards and Accessibility. Accessibility Codes include ADA, UFAS, NCAC, ANSI A117.1 and the Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines. Mark is a member of the American Institute of Architects and is licensed as an Architect in sixteen states. Mark has lived in Knoxville since 1967, has been married for 32 years to Michelle and has two adult children, Jason and Jordann. Mark’s son Jason has an intellectual disability and is the driving force behind his commitment to improving the living environment for people with disabilities.

Burke Brewer

Burke Brewer is a Disability Rights Advocate with Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT), focusing on Special Education advocacy. Burke obtained her Master's in Counseling from the University of Tennessee and has served as a disability advocate and employment specialist for over a decade. She has previous work experience with the State of Tennessee's Vocational Rehabilitation program, and as an entrepreneur. She is a firm believer of and advocate for equal access for individuals with disabilities in all areas of life. 

Judi Brookshire, Director of the Comprehensive Education Resource Center, TN School for the Deaf

Ms. Brookshire has been an advocate for individuals with disabilities for over 25 years. She was the social worker for the Pediatric Language Clinic when her own son was diagnosed with autism. She later came to serve the Deaf community at the Tennessee School for the Deaf. As a volunteer, Ms. Brookshire has served on state task forces, such as the Title 33 revision, the state Autism Society board, the Autism Society of East Tennessee (board member, and Chair), and Breakthrough (founder, board member and Co-Chair). Ms. Brookshire’s years of experience, both personal and professional, are extensive and as a well-respected member of the community, her knowledge of not only autism but the full range disability issues she has dealt with in the Deaf community is an asset to CODI.

Stephanie Brewer Cook, ADA Coordinator Disability Services Office, City of Knoxville

Stephanie Brewer Cook is the City of Knoxville’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator and liaison to the Mayor’s Council on Disability Issues (CODI).  Since 1998, she has worked as a Policy Analyst and Disability Services Coordinator. In her daily work with City departments, she consults on proposed projects and policies with the goal of ensuring that they are accessible to and inclusive of people with disabilities and seniors as well as to ensure that they adhere to the ADA’s requirements.  Another important part of her job is the provision of reasonable accommodations to both the public and City employees.  She regularly educates architects, engineers and others in the design and construction industry about true accessibility and the purpose for it, with the goal of positively impacting the built environment.  With the City’s recent designation by AARP as an Age-Friendly City, she is leading the efforts to make Knoxville a truly livable community. Mrs. Cook is formerly a member and past Chair of the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities, and held a position on the Board of Directors for the Epilepsy Foundation of East Tennessee for nearly fourteen years.  She is currently a member of the Executive Board of Directors for Disability Rights Tennessee and serves on the Knoxville Area Employment Consortium (KAEC) where she is the immediate past Chair. Currently, she is the Chair of the Project SEARCH Employer Advisory Committee.  Mrs. Cook is a proud graduate of the University of Tennessee, Pellissippi State Technical Community College, the Tennessee Partners in Policymaking Leadership Institute, the Knoxville-Knox County CAC Leadership program and the United Way’s Community Building workshop.

Bonnie Callen, Lost Sheep

Bonnie Callen has been a nurse for 49 years. She has practiced in five states and three countries including a year in Viet Nam as an Air Force nurse, and one in Ireland on a Fulbright Scholarship. Her masters is in Community Health Nursing and her PhD is in older adult nursing from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She became legally blind following eye surgery the semester she arrived in Tennessee in 2003 but continued to teach Nursing at the University of Tennessee for the next 15 years. She has been active with the Office on Aging since coming to Knoxville, serving both on their Executive Committee and on the Senior Information / Referral System. She was awarded the Duncan Award for Senior Advocacy in 2017 and currently volunteers for Lost Sheep (working with the homeless), two food pantries (the Scott Avenue FISH food pantry, and the West Knoxville FISH food Pantry).

Angie Davidson, MS, CTRS, Recreation Program Coordinator, City of Knoxville

Angie Davidson works as the City of Knoxville’s Administrative Supervisor for the Parks and Recreation Department. She has a Master’s degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies with a concentration in Therapeutic Recreation. Prior to working for the City, she worked as a recreational therapist serving individuals that had a stroke diagnosis at Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center and as a Day Services Director and then Director of Training and Staff Development at Breakthrough Corporation. She has a passion for serving others and making sure that leisure and recreational opportunities are available to everyone. She has enjoyed working with CODI to enhance the way the City Parks and Recreation Department provides inclusive recreational opportunities and looks forward to many more collaborative efforts in the years to come.

Annazette Houston

Annazette Houston is the Executive Director of Equity and Compliance at Pellissippi State Community College and serves as the institution's ADA Coordinator. Ms. Houston has a rich professional history in the areas of equity, diversity and civil rights and presently serves as the Chair of the Tennessee Human Rights Commission. Through her involvement in many community boards and cultural activities both on and off campus, Ms. Houston is able to bring a unique personal and professional voice to disability issues.

Laykoon T. Huang

Laykoon came to the U.S. at the age of 19 to go to college at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.  After graduation, she pursued her dream of becoming a physician and attended medical school at Vanderbilt.  She and her husband moved to Knoxville in 1982 where she started a private practice.  She is board certified in Occupational Medicine  and practiced occupational medicine as well as family practice for 30 years until she retired in 2012. Laykoon is active in: The Taiwanese Association of America – East TN Chapter ; the AARP Leadership Team, East Tennessee division; The Taoist Tai Chi Society of Tennessee; Mentoring of students for TN Achieves/TN Promise.

Josh Loebner

Josh Loebner is the Director of Strategy at Design Sensory. As a person with a disability in the marketing field, Mr. Loebner saw a serious lack of disability inclusion in advertising. On a mission to educate other marketing professionals, Mr. Loebner created a blog: Advertisinganddisability.com. This blog discusses the need for more diversity in advertising and encourages increased inclusion. Ultimately, Mr. Loebner strives to change the negative perception of people with disabilities in media.

Conya Mull

Conya Mull has spent the last nineteen years of her professional career assisting youth and adults with disabilities.  Advocating and being a voice for those who don’t have one, is not only a passion but a personal conviction of hers.  She works with employers and community providers by providing education as to why it makes sense to hire someone with a disability - including workplace accommodations.   An integrated employment setting, inclusion in the community, and independent living supports are important to ALL people not just some. Mull is knowledgeable in both state and federal program development and implementation and will continue to advocate for those who cannot advocate for their self.

Janet Neely

Janet Neely is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) and Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) with a history of teaching students in the Occupational Therapy field how to help people with disabilities (particularly neurological disabilities,) become more independent. She also has experience in home health care and gerontology, where she sees many needs of seniors and people with disabilities as it relates to home accessibility and appropriate transportation.

Monica Orr

Monica Orr received her Master’s in Leisure Service Administration from Gallaudet University and is currently working part time as the DeafBlind Coordinator for the Knoxville Center of the Deaf. 
Orr has over thirty years of experience with the DeafBlind disability community, and has experienced hearing loss since birth. She has much experience in deaf-blind tactile interpreting and support service, and has been involved with Knoxville’s DeafBlind community for many years.

Rebecca Parr

Rebecca Parr works primarily in the arts community, serving as production manager for UT Opera Theatre and School of Music. Parr has recently started an organization, Next Step Initiative, that helps people with addiction and mental health issues through advocacy and referral. Next Step Initiative also offers a “Feel Good Happiness Hour” that they take into facilities of recovery or marginalized populations, sharing mindfulness meditation, art, and music as a means to bring about connection and hope for those who may benefit from these things. Parr feels like she will be a strong representative for the disability community because of her years of experience with treatment options and the personal engagement she has had with individuals with disabilities.

ngela Petty

Angela Petty has worked in the social service field for more than 20 years. The past 10 years have been working for the homeless population specifically, housing homeless families. Currently, she works for the Community Action Committee as the Program Coordinator for one of the housing grants under CAC’s Homeward Bound Program. She has served on the Knoxville Knox Co. Homeless Coalition for over 10 years. Angela previously served on the City of Knoxville’s Fair Housing Board, Parks and Recreation, Knox Area Transit and was a past member of CODI between 1999 –2007. Angela has been an advocate for disability issues and has worked by the side of others with disabilities in the City of Knoxville and Knox County, as well as the South East Disability Technical Assistance Center to break down all barriers for people with disabilities through business, transportation, voting, sidewalks, parks, theaters, special attractions, as well as housing and homeownership.  Angela is a native Knoxvillian and thoroughly enjoys anything to do with the water whether it be ocean, lake or pool. Angela is active with her church, Sacred Heart Cathedral and members of Saint Martha’s Catholic Women’s Guild.

Erin Plyer, University of Tennessee

Erin Plyler, Au. D., CCC-A, is an Associate Professor and Pediatric Speech Pathologist who is currently working with the University of Tennessee Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology. 
Plyer has twenty years of experience with a hearing disability, and has been on multiple committees regarding such over her career. In addition, she has published many peer and non-peer reviewed journal articles, and has won honors and awards for her professional development.

Dr. Larry Rodger

Dr. Larry Rodgers, now retired, practiced as a pediatrician for 21 years. Dr. Rogers has been affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center and University of Tennessee Medical Center. He received his medical degree from University of Tennessee College of Medicine and was in practice for more than 20 years. He was one of 27 doctors at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center and one of 128 at University of Tennessee Medical Center who specialized in Pediatrics.

Dr. Rupy Sawhney, Industrial Engineer Professor, University of TN

Dr. Rupy Sawhney is a Professor & Heath Fellow in Industrial and Systems Engineering and is Executive Director of The Center for Advanced Systems Research and Education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He earned B.S. and M.S. in Industrial Engineering and Ph.D. in Engineering Science and Mechanics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. His current research focus is using technology and innovation to enhance Operational Excellence and community based services that increase the quality of life for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.. He is committed to working on an initiative to make Knoxville the “Most Disability Friendly City.”

Warren Secrest, Manager, Volunteer Assisted Transportation, Community Action Committee

Mr. Secrest has worked for the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee for fourteen years, serving the Workforce Connections division at the Tennessee Career as the Disability Program Navigator until 2008. Since then, he has worked on the implementation and management of the Volunteer Assisted Transportation program for CAC’s Office on Aging. He desires to draw attention to the interests and concerns of the older population. Mr. Secrest has an in-depth knowledge of the transportation needs of the elderly, as well as extensive knowledge about available area transportation resources and initiatives. 

Jennifer Shilling, Advocate, Disability Rights Tennessee

Jennifer Shilling is an Legal Rights Advocate with Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT).  DRT is Tennessee’s Protection & Advocacy System and has served – at no cost – more than 40,000 Tennesseans with disabilities.  DRT’s mission is to protect the rights of Tennesseans with disabilities.  Jennifer has specialized for 10+ years in working with children with disabilities to ensure their educational rights are being met.  She has previous employment experience with the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR).  She has a passion for the education and employment of people with disabilities.

Christina Shipley

Christina Shipley has seen many ways in which disability and traditional culture can go hand in hand or collide when people are striving for independence. She is a mixed race Native American/Melungeon/Scots-Irish woman with a son who has “diffabilities.” Her son Jesse (HeHaKa Wa’ste) Shipley- Arcoren, was born on, and is federally enrolled at Rosebud Sioux Tribe in Rosebud, S.D. Ms. Shipley previously worked at The Cerebral Palsy Center as the Family Support Coordinator and also at Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC) on the mobile communication application initiative known as Project ERIC. She has been a volunteer parent/special projects assistant for the last three years for the CAC EAST Neighborhood Tutoring Program- mentoring children in the five points area and a volunteer parent on the Stop School Pushout and STEM Programs in Knox County. She has a passion for advocating for children, seniors and the disability community; always looking for ways to remove barriers to independence for everyone through her vast network of nonprofit community agencies and resources.

Darris Upton, Knox County Diversity Development Manager

Darris Upton recently received his Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Tennessee. While pursuing his degree he worked as a Community Specialist/Student Intern (MSSW) program for the City of Knoxville Office of Neighborhoods. Upton, a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Navy sustained injuries that led to the end of his military career with the Navy. He is now a disabled veteran and has seven years of experience with disability. Upton currently serves as Diversity Development Manager for Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs.  In this role, he helps the county develop better relationships with all minority populations throughout Knox County, including those with disabilities.  He finds areas where minority business owners can be more successful when doing business with Knox County and also works to find ways to make sure that our young people are aware of growing fields where they can be successful in the future as well. Upton is also very aware of the student community, specifically the difficulties any disabled student can experience with getting around and parking on campuses.

Melissa Van Dyke, UPEP

Melissa Van Dyke is the Business Liaison for Pellissippi State's Universal Pathways to Employment Project (UPEP). In her work at Pellissippi, Ms. Van Dyke assists students with disabilities in order to obtain employment. As a parent of three children, all with different disabilities, Ms. Van Dyke brings a personal perspective of living with hidden disabilities and can effectively educate about the prevalence of hidden disabilities, while also advocating for their true inclusion.