Executive Director – Linda Martens
Linda Martens is the Executive Director of Ohio SIBS and works with the Board of Trustees and our members to ensure a strong association to serve as the unified voice and partner for Ohio adult siblings of people with developmental disabilities and their families.
Prior to serving as Executive Director, Linda was a government affairs professional who for 25 years represented numerous associations and corporations before state legislatures and states’ executive branches of government. Most recently, she spent a decade at Pfizer, the largest global biopharmaceutical company. As Director of Government Relations and Public Affairs for eight years, she represented the company in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia and with Members of Congress as well. While at Pfizer, she also served as the Director of Advocacy and Professional Relations for a seven-state region and developed partnerships and coalitions that advocated for health care public policy issues.
Before working for Pfizer, Linda was Vice President of Governmental Policy Group, a Columbus-based government relations firm. She represented numerous clients, with a focus on health care, local government, utilities and small business regulations.
With a strong history of volunteerism, Linda currently serves on the Boards of Prevent Blindness Ohio and the National Kidney Foundation Serving Ohio and Kentucky. In the past, she held a number of leadership positions, including Chair of the Bowling Green State University Alumni Board of Trustees and President of Renaissance League, an organization that served to raise money for Catholic Social Services’ community programs.
Linda is proud of her niece Hayley Flood, who is a Special Olympics athlete competing in basketball, swimming and cheer.
Current Board Members
Chair: Barb Sapharas, pictured with brother Nick
Barb has worked in the field of Developmental Disabilities for over 33 years in a variety of positions including Speech Language Pathologist, Staff Development Specialist, Support Administrator and is currently working for the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities as a Specialist in Training and Research in their Community and Medicaid Services Department. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Notre Dame College and teaches the following courses: Principles of Habilitation Programming, Principles of Self Determination and Principles of Community Supports. Barb received her BA and MA from Cleveland State University in Speech and Language Pathology.
Over the years, she has developed and provided training to staff, families, community partners and self advocates on a variety of topics including; communication, rights, person centered thinking and planning, informed decision making and consent, and group facilitation. She has presented locally and nationally on these topics.
As part of her role with the CCBDD, she has provided training to medical students on how to communicate with individuals with developmental disabilities. She has facilitated several collaborative work groups to develop resources for individuals, families and staff in the areas of rights, provider selection and interviewing, person centered planning, interacting with and transition from the justice system, and other service related topics.She is a certified trainer in Person Centered Thinking and Planning strategies developed by Michael Smull.She has two brothers. Her youngest brother, Nick, had Cerebral Palsy and passed away at the age of 45. Her life experience as a sibling has promoted her passion for supporting people to have their own “voice” and be heard in all aspects of their life.
Vice-Chair: Bob Milliken, pictured with brothers Randy and Ronnie
- Robert P. Milliken (Bob) is the President, Board of Trustees for OACBDD (Ohio Association of County Boards of Developmental Disabilities) and is a Board Member and Immediate Past President of Stark County Board of DD. He received his BS from Kent State University.
Bob is the youngest of three children, both older brothers were born with developmental disabilities. His brothers were 19 and 12 years older respectively. “They have since both passed away and they are the root of my passion for why I do what I do for people with developmental disabilities,” said Bob. His parents described his brothers as a couple of “hawks” that looked out for Bob when he was a toddler. Bob now tries to be that same kind of “hawk” looking out for what is best for the more than 80,000 people living in Ohio with developmental disabilities who need our support and advocacy.
Click here to watch the speech Bob gave at the 2011 Legislative Advocacy Day at the Statehouse 4/14/11
Treasurer: Dean Fadel, pictured with brother Jeff
Dean Fadel has been involved in professional state legislative and executive agency representation for 28 years, and currently represents several trade groups and corporations before the Ohio General Assembly and the executive branch of government in Ohio. He is the principal in Public Affairs Advocates, a government consulting firm based in Columbus where he has organized and implemented numerous successful legislative, regulatory and political strategies. He has also developed and coordinated successful local and statewide grassroots and advocacy initiatives.
Prior to starting this firm in 1997 he served as vice president of government relations for the Ohio Insurance Institute for a decade. He also previously held legislative affairs positions at the Ohio Dental Association and Ohio Department of Insurance.
In 2007 he was appointed as a member of the Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities and he was elected president of this board in 2012. The Franklin County DD Board oversees the budget and programs serving over 16,000 Franklin County residents.
In 2007 he was also elected to serve on the board of trustees for the Ohio Association of County DD Boards (OACB) and was elected president in January 2010 and reelected president in January 2011. The membership of the OACB includes the DD boards of all 88 Ohio counties.
In 2006 through 2007 he served as a facilitator for the Next Chapter Book Club which provides adolescents and adults with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to read and learn to read, talk about books, and make friends in a fun, community setting.
His younger brother Jeffery has Down syndrome and lives semi-independently in Gahanna, Ohio and is served by the Franklin County DD Board.
He is a 1983 graduate of Ohio University with a bachelor degree in business administration and currently resides in Blacklick, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus, and lives with wife Jacquie and daughter Rachel.
Secretary: Alison McKay, pictured with brothers Kyle and Brian
Alison McKay currently works as a contract attorney for the Ohio Legal Rights Service, the designated agency under federal law to protect and advocate the rights of people with disabilities in Ohio. Alison also works as the Sibling Advocate Trainee/Consultant with the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) Program of the Nisonger Center at Ohio State University. Through Franklin County Board of Development Disabilities, Alison became a certified PDP provider for home and community services and currently works as a provider for her younger brother, Kyle, who has Down syndrome. Kyle has contributed to fueling Alison’s passion to advocate alongside individuals with disabilities to break down barriers, and to provide services and support to individuals with disabilities and their families.
Alison received her Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders and Slavic Language and Literature from Northwestern University in 2006, and her Master of Education in Special Education from University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2007. Through Teach for America, Alison worked for two years as a middle school special education teacher in Las Vegas, Nevada. These experiences led Alison to enroll in law school in order to become a legal advocate for and alongside individuals with disabilities. During law school, Alison worked at various legal advocacy organizations for people with disabilities, including Equip for Equality (the P&A of Illinois) and Access Living (the Center for Independent Living of Metropolitan Chicago). Alison received her law degree from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in 2011.
Veronica Beisner with brother Dustin and son Ashton
Veronica Beisner is the younger sister to Dustin, a 32-year old gentleman with Down syndrome. She has been attending his IP meetings and acting as his advocate since she was 12 years old and has facilitated advocacy/support groups (i.e. SibShop) for other siblings of individuals with disabilities since about that same time. Dustin moved in with Veronica and her family almost three years ago and, as a result, Veronica has become his primary caregiver, ensuring his needs and desires are met. She has assisted in coordinating vacations for Dustin with friends and encouraging independence and social networks for Dustin over the years.
Veronica is a Service & Support Administrator for the Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities, primarily working with children. Prior to acquiring that position in January of 2011, she worked as a waiver coordinator for MCBDDS and as a program specialist for one of the largest non-profit HPC provider agencies in Ohio. She continues to be a natural support and advocate for other families and friends with questions regarding their child or sibling with disabilities.
A. Lynne Calloway, pictured with sister Leah
Kristin Dailey is the Executive Director for the Up Side of Downs of Greater Cleveland. After staying at home with her 3 children for almost 11 years, she is anxious to continue her passion for advocacy in this role. Kristin graduated from the University of Dayton with degrees in Elementary and Special Education, and received her Master’s degree in Educational Administration from the University of Akron in 2001. She was a Special educator in the Northeast Ohio area before becoming a full-time mother. Kristin most recently served as a Board member of the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities, which is where she first learned about Ohio SIBS. She is avidly involved in some of her favorite organizations which include: North Coast Community Homes, United Cerebral Palsy, Darius Goes West, and the Up Side of Downs. In her spare time, she volunteers for numerous school activities and the Parent Teacher Organization.
Kristin and her big brother, Matthew (age 40), began a Disability Awareness Program in Northeast Ohio area schools over 20 years ago as high school students. Since that time, they have shared their story to over 10,000 students, teachers, and parents. Both she and Matthew were recently honored by the Up Side of Downs for their two decades of service to area schools. They continue to team speak and advocate their mission. Matthew has been the source of inspiration for Kristin’s passion in the field, and she is thrilled to begin her term on the Ohio SIBS board. Kristin lives just outside of Cleveland with her husband, Matt, and their three children.
Tom Fish, Ph.D. is the Director of Social Work and Family Support Services at The Ohio State University Nisonger Center on Disabilities. He received his B.S. in Elementary Education from Northern Michigan University in 1969, his M.S.S.S. from Boston University in 1971, and his Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Services from The Ohio State University in 2003. He manages a DD Council grant on sibling outreach and also directs projects dealing with community inclusion, autism, adult literacy, and community service. Dr. Fish is a fellow of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Treasurer of the Ohio APSE Board, and serves as an adviser to the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio (DSACO). He is the Principal Investigator for the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council-funded Project Support of Siblings (SOS) housed at The Ohio State University, Nisonger Center.He teaches at The Ohio State College of Social Work and is a founding member of the National Sibling Leadership Network. Although Tom does not have a family member with a disability he is determined to improve the lives for individuals with disabilities.
Sarah Hall, pictured with brother Charlie and parents
Sarah Hall, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Inclusive Services and Exceptional Learners at the Columbus Center of Ashland University. She teaches graduate courses in special education, communication and collaboration, transition, and behavior management. Her research includes the sense of belonging, relationships, and social inclusion of young adults with intellectual disabilities. She has presented her research nationally at the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Annual Meeting, the Ethnographic and Qualitative Research Conference, the Women in Educational Leadership Conference, and the TASH Conference.
Sarah has an older brother with multiple disabilities including Down’s syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, and severe intellectual disabilities. The experience she has had throughout her life with her brother has influenced not only her career path but also the volunteer activities and advocacy in her personal life. During college, Sarah worked at group homes for people with disabilities and gave fencing clinics to people who use wheelchairs. After earning her Master’s degree, she was a Special Education Teacher at Columbus High School in Nebraska and started a Bible study for young adults with developmental disabilities. Sarah will continue to develop programs and advocate for people with disabilities through her involvement in Ohio SIBS.
Michelle Long, pictured with sister Julia Truby
I was born to be an advocate for people with developmental disabilities (DD). I had a brother, born in 1941, with DD. I was born in 1946 also with DD. My mother became a strong advocate for my brother and me. She started parent organizations in Cincinnati, the state of Ohio and was a co-founder of the ARC USA.
After my parents passed away, I promised my mom that I would always be there for my brother, and I was. He lived in an institution not close to Cincinnati and I wanted him to move closer to me. I advocated with the support of Ohio Protection and Advocacy, Inc. (APSI) to become my brother’s guardian. It took many years but in 1997 my brother moved near me and I became his guardian along with APSI. I was the first person with DD to become a guardian for another person with DD. APSI then recruited me to be the first person with DD on their Board of Directors. As a board member I had to vote on some very difficult problems, like life or death, parenting, medical procedures, etc. I did this because of my promise to my mom to make sure my brother was safe and had family and friends close by. So, I wanted to help others without families to protect their rights and make sure that someone who cared about them was in their life to help make big decisions.
In 2007, I graduated from a leadership and advocacy program, Partners in Policymaking (PIP), funded by the Ohio DD Council. I learned skills to work with policymakers like you. I believe that people with DD can make decision and must have a say in their future. Also, because the longest relationship that any of us will have in our lives is with our sibling, I believe that siblings should and want to learn how best to support their brother or sister. This can happen by creating Self Advocacy Policy and Training Centers and placing a sibling on State DD Councils!
Immediate Past Chair: Tammy Savage, pictured with sister Cassie
Tammy Savage is currently the Director of Recognition and Reporting at The Ohio State University Foundation. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from The Ohio State University in 1995 and completed the Predoctoral Sibling Fellow in Maternal and Child Health Interdisciplinary Leadership Training Program at The Ohio State University, College of Medicine and Public Health and Office of Health Sciences in 2003. She served twenty-four amazing years as “Cassie’s sister” and was a joint-guardian, advocate and caregiver for her sister Cassie, her uncle Louie and her grandmother Pauline.
Tammy has been an instrumental leader in building the framework for the annual Ohio Adult Sibling Conference and Ohio SIBS, do not let her current title fool you…Tammy spent much of her early professional career in non-profit organizations with missions aimed at helping people with disabilities and their families. In 2000, she left that career behind and with her mom by her side, became a full-time direct caregiver to her sister and grandmother and an indirect advocate and caregiver for her uncle. In the years that followed, Tammy continued to help build the foundation for Ohio SIBS. She provided advice and expertise to other states as they gained momentum with their own state-wide adult sibling initiatives and continued to be one of the primary organizers for the annual Ohio Adult Sibling Conference. Tammy was named Ohio SIBS Sibling of the Year in 2004 for her dedication, inspiration and advocacy for adult brother and sisters and their families. After her grandmother’s death in 2005 and her sister’s death in 2006 Tammy returned to the professional world she left behind years ago. Her uncle also passed away in 2009, and although she is no longer a caregiver and advocate for her own family, Tammy remains as dedicated to the adult sibling movement and families across Ohio and as such continues to serve as a valued member of the Ohio SIBS leadership team and organizational efforts.