John Davis (JT) — President

Mr. John Davis (JT) has been a member of the Florida Independent Living Council, Inc. since 2008. He currently serves as the Second Vice President of the Council and is the liaison for the FILC Youth Advisory Committee. Mr. Davis has been involved with advocating for persons with disabilities since 1997, is an active member of the National Youth Leadership Network and was the first Accessibility Specialist for the Florida Division of State Parks. Mr. Davis enjoys Florida history, it’s currently serving as the Vice President of the Taylor County Historical Society and is passionate about disability history. Mr. Davis is on the Florida Department of Education’s Advisory Board for Exceptional Students. He is also recognized as a state leader in educational advocacy for persons with disabilities on a national level. In 2007 he was awarded the Youth Leader of the Year by Able Trust. Mr. Davis also enjoy movies, museums, historical sites, swimming and has a vast collection of historical artifacts.

Jesus Garcia–First Vice President

Born July 8th 1963 in Guines Havana Cuba. Blind since birth. Immigrated 1971 lived in Southern California till 1973 moved to South Florida. Raised in South Florida. Graduated with BS in business administration minor computer science from Florida State University 1986. Working on masters international relations. Work for Logisticare, a nationwide provider of medical transportation, center manager. Member of the American Council of the blind, and the Florida Council of the blind.

Jeannette Leilani Kicklighter, RN, ARM, MBA, DFASHRM, CHSP, CPHRM, LHRM–Second Vice President

Ms. Kicklighter began her career as a registered nurse. Her experience in healthcare risk management over more than 30 years has afforded her experience in various delivery settings including the large teaching hospital, in a university medical school setting, and in a variety of other health care provider settings, including the large multi-speciality medical clinic, the for-profit community hospital and the not-for-profit integrated healthcare multi-facility system and a large HMO. She was a health care risk management consultant with a large multi-national insurance broker and consulted throughout the US and in other countries. Most recently she served as the Corporate Director of Risk Management Services and Patient Safety Officer for a large long term care/skilled nursing facility.

She is now an entrepreneur as the principle of the Kicklighter, offering consulting services in the areas of healthcare risk management, patient safety, infection preventions, workers’ compensation, AAAHC readiness and stress management education. She serves as a risk management and infection prevention consultant to ambulatory surgery centers, office-based surgery centers and physician offices through the Kicklighter Group and is the course coordinator for the healthcare risk management course leading to licensure in FL that is offered through the University of South FL. She is also a certified hypnotist and stress management consultant.

Leilani has been active in state and local health care risk management organizations and has been a member of the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management (ASHRM), since it’s beginning, serving on committees, the board of directors and as President in 1997-1998. She is a past-President of the FL Society for Healthcare Risk Management and Patient Safety and the Greater Houston Society for Healthcare Risk Management. Lani is also a lifetime member of the Association for Practitioners in Infection Control; she is currently the chair of the APIC ambulatory special interest group. Leilani is currently the ASHRM representative to the CDC Safe Injection Practices Coalition Task Force.

In addition to earning the ARM and the MBA, she has been awarded the DFASHRM designation from ASHRM and is currently working toward the CPCU designation (one exam left.) She also holds the CHSP (Certified Healthcare Safety Professional,) the CPHRM (Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management) and is a FL Licensed Healthcare Risk Manager. She is currently serving on the Board of the Broward County Regional Health Planning Council, on the board of the Broward Center fro Independent Living and on the board as Vice President of the Royce Foundation of the Jackson Memorial School of Nursing (now closed).

She is published in the fields of infection control and risk management and has been a speaker in the disciplines of infection control and risk management on the local, state, national and international levels.

Kate Abels–Secretary

Kate Abels has been involved in the disability movement since July 29th, 1990, when she became a paraplegic due to a motor vehicle accident. Before moving to Florida in 1997 she was a member of the New Hampshire State Independent Living Council as well as the Governors Commission for People with Disabilities. In addition she was on the Granite State Independent Living BOD, with an emphasis on recreation and ADA compliance.

Currently she lives in Volusia county and is a founder and after 6 years, Immediate Past BOD president of disAbility Solutions for Independent Living which covers Volusia and Flagler counties. Currently she is a member of HAVOC (Handicapped Adults of Volusia County) The Mayors Alliance of Daytona Beach and sits on the board of disAbility Solutions. She is a vocal advocate and supporter of disability rights and has had many successes in making Volusia county more accessible. Her hobbies include travel, camping, pool shooting, wildlife, cooking and reading, among other things. Occupation: freelance graphic designer.

Candace Partee–Treasurer

Candy Partee was born in Bryan, Ohio. She grew up in Lima, Ohio. Candy graduated Adrian College in Adrian Michigan with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Music. She is a member of Sigma Kappa Sorority.

She moved to Sarasota, Florida where she became Deputy Sheriff. She became the first woman in the Patrol Division. She married and had a son, Marc Miller. In 1980, her mother became ill, so she moved back up to Ohio where she worked as an Intake Investigator for Allen County Children Services Board.

She returned to Sarasota in 1986, where she was a Child Protective Investigator for the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services. She had a daughter, Amanda Partee. Candy became a nurse and worked for Sarasota Memorial Hospital and several Home Health agencies. Due to some health problems, she changed occupations again and became a Real Estate Appraiser and a Realtor. As her health became worse, she could no longer work.

She found Suncoast Center for Independent Living. She became a consumer. They helped her to realize that just because she was disabled, life was not over. She started volunteering at the Suncoast Center for Independent Living, and eventually became a Board Member. Candy has returned to work part-time as a Private Investigator for Watchdog Security & Investigations.

In addition, she has volunteered as: member of the Parish Council for St. Martha’s Church, CCD teacher, Eucharistic Minister, various activities as St. Martha’s School and Riverview High School Kiltie Band, Senior Friendship Center, Sarasota Medieval Fair and other community activities.

Carol Christopherson–Member at Large

Carol Christopherson is the Founder and President of Florida Service Dogs, Inc. founded in February 1999, which she educates, advocates as well as trains rescued dogs as service dogs for persons with disabilities and works with owner to train them to train their own service dog. Carol has been providing individual dog obedient and service animal instruction classes since approximately February 1999 and group instructions since January 2003. Carol has performed over 30 professional power point presentations regarding the legal rights and responsibilities of service animals to various state and local agencies as well as public and private entities and has performed over 100 live service animal demonstrations to various children and adult organizations.

Carol is a veteran with 100 percent total and permanent bilateral deafness. She presently serves on the Florida Independent Living Council, Inc. appointed by Governor Scott. She was previously appointed by Governor Crist as a Commissioner on the Governor’s Commission on Disabilities representing the hearing impaired population of Florida (2007-2009). In addition, Carol was a council member of the first Government appointed Florida Coordinating Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing from August 2004 through 2008. She is also a member of the National Association of the Deaf, Hearing Loss Association of America, and Hearing Loss Association of Florida formerly known as SHHH or Self Help for the Hard of Hearing.

Julie Shaw-Network of Centers Representative

John (Jack) Maguire

I have been an advocate for persons with disabilities for a number of years. I have Wilson’s Disease. This is a genetic disease, that affects me neurologically. One of my employment opportunities was Secretary to City of Jacksonville Council on the Handicapped Individual. I registered individuals with disabilities to vote as well as developed the advisory plan for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation in 1990. I was also delegate to the White House Conference on Handicapped Individuals.

Shelley Gottsagen

Shelley Gottsagen’s remarkable 30 year career providing strong direction, expert advice, and passionate advocacy is highlighted by a personal dedication to empowering others to succeed and believing in the value of all human beings and the importance of inclusive communities.

Displaying a wide variety of interests, Ms. Gottsagen is deeply involved in public service, as well as advocacy and community organizations. She was appointed by Governor Charlie Crist and Governor Rick Scott to the Board of Directors of the Florida Independent Living Council, where she serves as Secretary of the Council. She had been appointed in successive terms to the Human Rights Advocacy Council by both Governor Lawton Chiles and Governor Jeb Bush. In addition, she served two terms on the Commission on Affordable Housing appointed by the Palm Beach County Board of County Commission. Due to her commitment to equality and human rights, Shelley has served on various boards including the Homeless Coalition of PBC, the Exceptional Student Education Advisory Board and those of a variety of organizations. She has received over 25 awards for her outstanding work and has co-authored “The State of the Child in Palm Beach County” (1992) and “Getting A Life- Postsecondary Transition for Youth with Disabilities Planning Manual” (2005).

Shelley Gottsagen grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Social Welfare degree. In 2011, she graduated with a Masters of Non-Profit Management from Florida Atlantic University and is currently pursuing a doctorate in Rehabilitation Counseling. Throughout her career, Ms. Gottsagen focused her efforts on ending all forms of discrimination and facilitating systemic change to create a society where equal opportunities and respect for diversity are most highly valued. Her continuing civil rights advocacy is in the areas of disability, gender, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, socio-economics, and animal rights.

Shelley is serves as the Development and Community Relations Manager for the Center for Independent Living of South Florida in Miami. Her career includes over a decade as a non-profit executive director, an additional thirteen years in state and county government; as a funder for a special taxing district; and extensive service on board of directors of various local and state nonprofit organizations.

Patricia A. Lipovsky


My name is Patricia A. Lipovsky. I am currently a resident of Daytona Beach Florida, and a proud Mom of three children, and six grand children. Although I consider myself retired for the most part, I still enjoy dabbling in Real- estate occasionally, and also do some property management when possible.

I am a member of the Florida Council of the Blind, serving as vice-President of our local chapter, the Halifax Council of the Blind. In addition to serving on the state boards for the Florida Independent Living Council, and the Florida Rehab Council of the Blind, I am the President of both the Handicapped Adults of Volusia County, and the Coalition and Concerns of the Totally Blind. I also serve as a board member on the Friends of Library Access, which supports the Braille and Talking Books Library in Daytona Beach in providing audio books to the print impaired throughout the state of Florida.

My major in college was Psychology and business, with my mission being to help people, wherever and whenever I can. My favorite quotes are “Where There Is a Will, There Is a Way”, and “If God brings you TO it, he will bring you THROUGH it.” No matter what the challenge or obstacles are, we must never give up. There is always a solution; we just need to find it.

So, as I tell most people, “keep that chin up”, and keep on trucking, as better days are right around the corner!!