Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sandi Klink becomes the new Executive Director of the Memphis Center for Independent Living.

Executive Director Sandi Klink
Executive Director Sandi Klink
Deborah Cunningham’s death this past May has left a large hole in Memphis. This week The Memphis Center for Independent Living took action to keep the Center a vibrant representative of the disability community and a focus for disability rights. Sandi Klink, the Interim Director has been named the MCIL Executive Director, Tim Wheat has been hired as the new Program Director and Anthony Sledge is stepping into a new role as Outreach Director.

Sandi Klink had the unique opportunity to work side-by-side with Deborah Cunningham for the past fifteen years as her deputy. She first became involved with MCIL in the late 1980’s where Ms. Cunningham was a strong influence in Sandi’s work as a facilitator and mentor. Ms. Klink is a graduate of Partners in Policy making and recently rotated off the Tennessee Council for Developmental Disabilities. In 2000 Sandi helped coordinate the Torch Relay for the tenth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Vice President Al Gore invited her to dinner in celebration of the ADA.

“MCIL is an organization that works with people with disabilities of all types. We are accepting, we are open and you can feel at home here, “said Sandi Klink. “I’d say MCIL is known for causing trouble and we are very proud of it.”

Ms. Klink is passionate about the power of language and respect for people with disabilities. She is a singer and soloist. Sandi says she is a proud grandmother and her favorite label is “Grandi.”

Tim Wheat has been tapped to run the Independent Living
Program. From 2002 to 2014,Tim Wheat worked as the Advocacy Services Manager and Community Organizer for the Center for People with Disabilities in Boulder Colorado. Most recently he was a Disability Rights Advocate at Disability Rights Tennessee. He began his work with the disability community however at the Memphis Center for Independent Living. In 1999 Tim documented more than 1,700 violations of the Fair Housing Act and was part of one of the largest Fair Housing Complaints concerning accessibility. Tim Wheat has been an ADAPT activist for over nineteen years. He created the ADAPT Action Report, was a director of the ADAPT 25th Anniversary Celebration and coordinated the web media for the historic Free Our People March in 2003. In 2002 Tim rode his bicycle around the United States to document Independent Living creating a web journal called Independence Across America. Tim worked as a volunteer with the Student Conservation Association in Alaska following the Valdez spill and is a graduate of the University of Alabama.

“I love what I see at MCIL,” said Tim Wheat. “I see the best of Independent Living, community involvement, participation and a passion for disability rights.”

Anthony Sledge has been named the new Outreach Director  this is his new title along with being the ADA Housing Coordinator and Home Modifications specialist.  Anthony has been with MCIL  since March of 2007 .  He has successfully obtained funding for the Home Mod program for the past seven years.  He is the former Vice-Chair of the Statewide Independent Living Council and currently holds the designation of certified ADA Coordinator from the University of Missouri’s School of Disability and Health Professionals.  Anthony has had several years of experience by working not only in Home Modifications but in nursing home transitions and performing Independent living duties as needed.  He has extensive ties to the community as a Pastor and as an advocate for the downtrodden.
Anthony Sledge
Outreach Director Anthony Sledge
Anthony has established several ties in the community by going in various neighborhoods and completing home modification projects.  He serves on several boards and committees including the Memphis Advisory Council for Citizens with Disabilities.  Anthony has modified over 250 homes since 2007.  He is a graduate of Union University with a Master’s in Religious Studies and currently working on a Master’s of Divinity Degree with a concentration in leadership.

“Awareness opens our eyes but Ambition gets us the prize,” said Anthony Sledge, “I am confident that the new leadership will bring out the best, brightest and effective efforts to take us to the next level.”