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ICF Advocates for Choice Board of Directors

Families working for families

Joan Kelley


PHONE: 785-218-7195


JOAN KELLEY (Kansas) is theVice President, of the Kansas Neurological Institute Parent Guardian Group


1. ▪ Twenty seven years as primary caregiver and advocate for individual with profound autism

2. ▪ Former Licensed, Therapeutic Foster Care Provider, State of Kansas


3. ▪ First hand experience with HCBS Waivers, State of Kansas 1998-2005

4. ▪ Behavioral Intervention strategies implemented with interdisciplinary

teams 1993-current

5. ▪ Guardian for 30 yr old grandson who resides at Kansas Neurological Institute (KNI)

EDUCATION: Continuing education includes:

• Shaklee Institute - Explosive/Noncompliant Children and Adolescents

• University of Kansas - Behavioral Intervention for Children with Autism

• Professional training and oversight with Masters and Phd

level Autism behavioral specialists in Colorado and Kansas since 1993.

MOTIVE: As a grandparent and Guardian, I’m honored to serve in advocacy for highest risk DD

individuals. Utilizing resources, hiring extensive professional and paraprofessional staff enabled

my husband and I to successfully care for someone unable to express his own needs, thoughts and desires - until dangerous, unpredictable behaviors became so prevalent that a centralized

care environment became necessary.

The ICF, centralized care environment has been the successful option in which our loved one has been able to thrive for the past 12 years. Being a solution-oriented person, I welcome opportunities to find solutions, particularly within the team

Debra Wallace


PHONE: 512-363-9628


DEBRA WALLACE, (TEXAS) Board Member of PART, Parents and Allies for Remarkable Texans and serves on the Policy Committee for NCSA (National Council on Severe Autism), Co-President of Texas Families and Friends for Choice


1 Served on the Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities for Governor Ray Maybus of Mississippi

2. Served on the Governor's Council for Developmental Disabilities for Governor Edwin Edwards of Louisiana

3. Served on the Special Educational Advisory Board for the Austin Independent School District in Texas.

4. Served on TSAC, the non-profit Texas Society for Autistic Children

5 Served as the Secretary for the Capitol Area Autism Society

Debra worked as a Special Education and secondary English teacher for 24 years and she and her husband Stephen Wallace raised 5 children and 10 grandchildren. Their youngest son Justin is severely autistic and resides in the Austin State Supported Living Center (an ICF). She has two Masters Degrees, one in Special Education and the other in Curriculum & Instruction.

Susan Jennings


PHONE: 570-447-6330


SUSAN H. JENNINGS (Pennsylvania) is the mother and Co-guardian of a profoundly Autistic adult son named Joey Jennings who resides at White Haven State Center in White Haven, Pennsylvania.

Susan graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.S. in Biology from St. Bonaventure University. She is a retired graphics Web Designer and the mother of four children and a grandmother to 5 children.

She is one of the Founding Members of KIIDS - Keeping Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities Safe, a Pennsylvania statewide grassroots efforts to protect the Pennsylvania State Developmental Centers. She led a successful effort to defeat HB 1650 that would have closed all four Centers at once.

When PA Governor Tom Wolf announced that he was closing two of Pennsylvania's State Centers, Polk and White Haven, she organized the families to fight the closures with rallies, with enlisting legislators to write and approve a Moratorium bill which after passing both the Pennsylvania House and Senate in record time, was stopped by a Tom Wolf veto.

So she organized the Center families to file a class action lawsuit in federal court entitled Jennings v. Wolf to stop the Center closures and preserve ICF care in Pennsylvania.

Forcible transitions of White Haven Centers and Polk Centers from their homes to the remaining Selinsgrove and Ebensberg Centers caused the lawsuit to become moot before a full Hearing could be held.

She is also a proud member of   the National Council of Severe Autism, where she serves on the Policy Committee.

Judge Stephen Wallace

Senior Legal Consultant

In Memoriam

It is with the deepest sorrow that I must tell you that Stephen A. Wallace passed away on December 17, 2021.

Stephen Wallace was the epitome of a fine Southern gentleman, devoted to his beautiful wife Debra, his family and to his friends and colleagues. Stephen was an accomplished legal mind as an attorney and Judge, and an outstanding disability advocate, who generously and selflessly donated his keen intellect, passion and talents to fight for his severely autistic son Justin, and parents and families nationwide struggling to find and preserve the appropriate services our severely disabled loved ones need to survive.

Steve's wry sense of gentle humor and his quick wit were reminiscent of Mark Twain and will be sorely missed by all who had the honor of knowing him. He had an extremely kind heart and jumped to the defense of the underdog, even at personal cost. His integrity and honor were unquestionable.

It was Stephen's legal arguments that preserved the existence of the Texas ICF for his son Justin and for Justin's peers. Another of his outstanding advocacy accomplishments was the letter he primarily authored to the ACLU which turned back their considerable legal challenge to the existence of ICFs. Stephen also wrote letters, tirelessly attended meetings, lobbied legislatures and policymakers and represented the needs and concerns of so many families in need of disability services. He was always willing to freely share his ideas and information.

Stephen Wallace was a wonderful individual that we will miss greatly. Our sorrow is lessened only slightly with the comforting thought that we had the privilege to know him.

Debra, our hearts and our prayers are with you and your family at this difficult time. We will miss Steve greatly and all the good he accomplished will live on.

. As Mark Twain once said:

Let us endeavor to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.

ATTORNEY STEPHEN WALLACE (Texas) was a member of PART, Parents and Allies for Remarkable Texans and serves on the Policy Committee of NCSA, (National Council on Severe Autism), Co-President of Texas Families and Friends for Choice

Stephen graduated as a Political Science / History major from Texas State University.

He worked as a teacher at an ICF, the Austin State School before he earned his paralegal degree from Texas Stare University,

Stephen worked as a Parent Trainer for the ARC and served on the Advocacy, Inc. non-profit Board.

Stephen worked as a Special Education Teacher in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Stephen received his law degree from Louisiana State University. He worked as the Research Attorney for the Louisiana Seagrant Program and was the Lead Counsel for the Louisiana Office of Oil Spill Mitigation for the Governor of Louisiana. Stephen then entered into private practice for 5 years before becoming a Texas Administrative Hearing Officer, the position he held until his recent retirement.

His youngest son Justin, is severely autistic and resides at an ICF, the Austin State Supported Living Center.

Steve Watson

Board Director

PHONE:  405-919-1154


STEVE WATSON (Oklahoma) is a former high school English teacher and assistant varsity football coach.

Steve has a Masters in English and Secondary Administration from the University of Central Oklahoma

Steve was a Football letterman and has a BS in Education from the University of Georgia

 Steve has been married 30 years to Jennifer

His Daughter Sarah lives at Santa Fe Place, an ICF, in Moore, Oklahoma

Steve works part time for Santa Fe Place as the Community Outreach Coordinator

Steve also serves as the Moore Kiwanis advisor to Aktion Club of Santa Fe Place

Rebecca Japko

Board Director

PHONE:  512-585-2478


Rebecca Japko is  the President of PART - Parents and Allies for Remarkable Texans, representing the 13 state-supported living Centers (ICFs) in Texas.

I feel my youngest sister, Linda has trained me all these years on how to respond and love those with disabilities especially those who have extreme behaviors and high medical needs.

 After our mother could no longer take care of Linda and through a series of events, she now lives at the Brenham State Supported Living Center since 2012.

I have been a volunteer for eight years at BSSLC and now serve on the Human Rights Committee. My love for my sister has pushed me toward advocacy for all people with disabilities and their right to receive the best care. After working as a postal clerk for seventeen years, I decided I could do more. I went back to school to become a nurse. I spent most of my career as a school nurse but I found the most rewarding position was as the nurse manager at an Alzheimer’s 22 bed facility.

I am now retired and want to focus my time and energy advocating for those individuals with IDD who require 24/7 supervision to be safe.



Families & Friends of Care Facility Residents

PHONE:  870-530-6699











Kansas Neurological Parents Guardian Group

PHONE:  785-218-7195




PHONE:  781-718-7799








KIIDS - Keeping Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities Safe

PHONE:  570-447-6330



Polk Center Strong, President

PHONE:  440-734-2642



White Haven Center Family & Friends

Fundraising Administrator

PHONE:  675-1414



Polk Center Strong, Treasurer

KIIDS - Keeping Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities Safe

PHONE:  772-646-3471



Polk Center Strong

PHONE:  814-671-3301







PART - Parents and Allies for Remarkable Texans, President

PHONE:  512-585-2478








PHONE:  (307) 575-6641



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