AIM STAFF

Leigh Ann
Photo of Executive Director Leigh Ann Stephens

LEIGH ANN

Executive Director

I have an educational background in social services and 27 years of experience in the field of Independent Living. Having multiple disabilities myself, I know first-hand the importance of consumer control and living independently in the community. I began my career in 1993 when I took on the position of Independent Living Coordinator at Will-Grundy Center for Independent Living (DRC) in Joliet, IL. After working for 7 years as an IL Coordinator, I took the position of Program Manager, which I held until July of 2004. At this time, I moved into the position of Executive Director of AIM-CIL (f.k.a. DuPage Center for Independent Living). Throughout the last 14 years, we’ve seen many changes, including shifts in funding, moving locations, a name change, expansion of service area to include DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties, as well as expansion of services. Although most of my time is spent on administrative tasks such as grants, reporting etc., my passion lies on the programmatic side of things and direct service. I will answer phones, spend time with consumers and provide direct service when and as needed. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, my husband and I enjoy camping, outdoor activities with our kids, spending time with our pets, and traveling.

Phone: (630) 376-4275
Email: [email protected]

Emily
Photo of Community Placement Supervisor Janifer Burkhardt

Emily

Program Director

Emily graduated from Illinois State University in May 2019 with a Bachelor’s degree in Human and Educational Services. She works as an IEP and systems advocate for students and individuals under the age of 25. She also runs workshops to teach self-advocacy and independent living skills to the youth at the center and within schools.

Phone: (630) 376-4270
Email: [email protected]

Stephanie
Independent Living Benefits Coordinator Stephanie Howanietz

STEPHANIE

Independent Living Advocate

As an Independent Living Advocate, I assist individuals with disabilities in meeting their own, self-determined independent living goals such as communication, educational, vocational, advocacy and personal resource management to name a few. This is done through our core services which include independent living skills training to assist with independence, advocacy, and information and referral. I am also a certified Senior Healthcare Insurance Program (SHIP) Provider. I work to assist and educate consumers regarding Medicare coverage. I also answer questions about Medicaid and Social Security.

Phone: (630) 376-4274
Email: [email protected]

Crystal
Photo of Lisa Novak

Crystal

Youth Services Advocate

Crystal Griffin has an extensive background in education through the provision of Special Education and Intensive Behavioral Services for youth with disabilities for more than 20 years. Crystal strongly believes in self advocacy and self directed learning. As a Youth Advocate for AIM-CIL, she provides work-based educational programming, post secondary options, and pre-employment information for youth in schools. She also provides information and referrals, and individualized support for families and young adults with community based needs in the counties we service. She is a wife and mother of three children and enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

Phone: (630) 376-4273
Email: [email protected]

Danielle
Photo of Personal Assistant & Outreach Coordinator Monica Layman

Danielle

Independent Living Advocate

My name is Danielle Perez and I am an Independent Living Advocate here at AIM-CIL. My job is to work with consumers to increase their independence and help them achieve their goals through peer counseling and advocacy. I also aim to support and assist those with disabilities through information and referrals, and my previous jobs include roles in caregiving, behavioral health, early childhood, and special education.

Phone: (630) 376-4283
Email: [email protected]

Kate
Photo of Lisa Novak

Kate

Communication Access Advocate

Kate Citti is the Communication Access Advocate and Deaf Services Coordinator at AIM-CIL. She provides the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind communities assistance with communication and independent living skills. With resources and services available to meet their independent living needs, they are empowered to make choices in their lives. As part of our Fast Track Program, Kate works with deaf and hard of hearing high school students on self-advocacy and independent living skills.


Email: [email protected]
(630) 984-4251

Lauren
Photo of Lisa Novak

Lauren

Personal Assistant Advocate

My name is Lauren Meger and I am AIM-CIL’s Personal Assistant Advocate. I graduated from the University of Illinois Chicago in 2023 with a Bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation Science and a minor in Disability and Human Development. My background is in working with psychiatric disabilities, as well as neurodivergent individuals. As a PA Advocate, I assist consumers that are looking to receive non-medical home services. The PA program allows our consumers to have control over their services by conducting their own hiring process. Training personal assistants is also a major component of my role.

Phone: (630) 376-4279
Email: [email protected]

Michael
Photo of Lisa Novak

Michael

Administrative Assistant

Michael graduated from Drake University in May of 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in English and History. As an administrative assistant, Michael helps with day-to-day tasks that keep the office running smoothly. Alongside this, he is in charge of fundraising, creating newsletters, and acts as the point person for the center’s ITAC amplified phone program.

Phone: (630) 376-4281
Email: [email protected]

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