Meet the Alabama Board of Rehabilitation Services

The next scheduled Board of Directors meeting will be September 17, 2020, beginning at 10:00 a.m. CDST. For the health and safety of the public, the ADRS Board meeting may be conducted virtually (live) via Zoom.us, and is open to the public. More information will be provided here closer to the meeting date.

American Sign Language Interpreters will be available.



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The Alabama Board of Rehabilitation Services is comprised of seven members, with one from each Congressional district. Of these, three members must have a disability, one must be the parent of a child with a disability and three members must be from business and industry. Biographies of the current board members are below.

Michelle K. Glaze
District 1, Mobile

glaze6Michelle K. Glaze, a resident of Daphne, currently serves as associate director of professional outreach for the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB).

Michelle, who was diagnosed with cone rod dystrophy in 2011, works to increase awareness and referrals for FFB by reaching out to the professional community (optometrists, ophthalmologists, retinal specialists, low-vision specialists, departments of vocational rehab, and schools for the blind) to make sure they know who the foundation is and share information about some of the resources available to patients with inherited retinal disease

Glaze, who grew up in California before moving to Alabama in 2003, began her journey with ADRS as a consumer. When she was diagnosed and knew that she would need assistance, Glaze reached out to the Vocational Rehabilitation Service office in Mobile. At the time, she was working in the medical field in pharmaceutical sales and had a driver, but she began having problems reading paperwork. ADRS referred her to an eye specialist and assigned VR counselor Blair Cowan to her case. It was Cowan (who shares a similar form of vision loss) who eventually recommended Glaze as a board member.

Glaze holds master’s degree in Communicative Sciences and Disorders from California State University – Fresno and initially worked with the deaf and hard of hearing community, which makes her an even more valuable member of the leadership team.

She said she was excited to join the board because as a person with vision loss, she wants to be able to help and advocate for people like herself in any way she can.

In her free time, Glaze enjoys attending her son Parks’ baseball and basketball games, exercising, and going to concerts. She represents people with disabilities on the ADRS board.

Jimmie Varnado

District 2, Montgomery

jvarnadoJimmie Varnado, a native of Mobile, is branch manager/assistant vice president with Sterling Bank in Montgomery. Prior to joining Sterling, Varnado served in the U.S. Air Force for 28 years, retiring in 2000 as a lieutenant colonel. He has a bachelor of arts in business administration from Dillard University and a master of science in personnel management from Troy University.

Varnado is active in his community and has been honored for volunteer service by Junior League of Montgomery, Outreach Ministry, and the Alpha Upsilon Chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. In addition to serving on the Alabama Board of Rehabilitation Services, he has been a board member of the Central Montgomery Optimist Club, board member and treasurer of the River Region United Way, a member of the Board of Directors of the American Red Cross, and vice president of Leadership Montgomery.

Penny Piland Foster
District 3, Auburn
Vice Chairperson, 2018

PennyFosterPenny Piland Foster's personal experience as the mother of a teen-age daughter with Down syndrome gives her a unique perspective on disability services in Alabama.  She has been a vocal and tireless advocate for Maggie as well as other children with special needs as a member of Alabama’s Interagency Coordinating Council, the Alabama Council on Developmental Disabilities, the Exceptional Outreach Organization, and the Montgomery Area Down Syndrome Outreach Group, and as the vice president of the Exceptional Foundation of East Alabama. 

She is the founder of The Journey School, a nonprofit inclusive preschool, as well as a co-founder of TEAM 21, a networking group for parents of children with Down syndrome; and Blessings on the Plains, a nonprofit day program for adults with disabilities now known as the Exceptional Foundation of East Alabama.

Mrs. Foster has a bachelor of science from the University of South Alabama, a master’s degree in early childhood and elementary education from the University of Alabama, and has taught kindergarten as well as elementary school. 

Leah Patterson Lust
District 4, Cullman

LeahPattersonLustWe are saddened by the loss of our dedicated and compassionate member, Leah Patterson Lust, who passed away April 25, 2020. She was a native of Cullman and former probate judge for Cullman County, a licensed graduate social worker who served as a counselor at The Delta Center in Cullman. At The Delta Center, she provided services to individuals and families in the area of crisis intervention, marriage and family, substance abuse, and grief and bereavement. Before this, Lust served as director of social work at Cullman Regional Medical Center and as a staff social worker at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa.

Lust, who earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from the University of Alabama, was a long-time advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. She served on the State of Alabama Rehabilitation Council and as chair of the State of Alabama Independent Living Council. She was also a member of the board of the Day Star House and a founding director of OASIS: Suicide Prevention Outreach. She will be deeply missed by the ADRS Board of Directors, the entire ADRS staff and the thousands of people in Alabama with disabilities whose lives were impacted by her passionate service. 
Click here to read a special ADRS tribute to Ms. Lust. 

Eddie C. Williams
District 5, Huntsville
Board Chairperson, 2018

EddieCWilliamsWilliams has enjoyed a long career with one of Alabama’s most prestigious technology companies, Sanmina-SCI, a global leader in electronics manufacturing services. He is currently senior avionics program manager at Sanmina-SCI’s Defense and Aerospace Division facility in Huntsville.

In addition to his experience in the state and international business community, Williams has been very involved in a number of organizations, at both the community and national levels. His volunteer activities include serving as chairman of the board of directors of the Madison-Marshall County chapter of the American Red Cross, board member of Huntsville’s Downtown Rescue Mission, board member of the Greater Huntsville Chapter of the 100 Black Men of America, and member of the National Management Association, the leadership development organization for which he is national vice president.

As the parent of an adult son with autism, Williams also has a very personal knowledge and understanding of disability. In addition, he has the broader knowledge and understanding gained by serving as board member and treasurer of the North Alabama Autism Society as well as former chairman of the board of Phoenix (formerly the Huntsville Rehabilitation Foundation).

Williams represents business and industry on the board.

Charles Wilkinson
District 6, Birmingham

CharlesWilkinsonCharles Wilkinson, a respected member of the Birmingham business community, has extensive experience as a human resource professional and consultant, which gives him valuable insight into the issues related to workers with disabilities. 

Wilkinson, the father of a 10-year-old daughter named Bergen with Down syndrome, has been a vocal and tireless advocate for workers with disabilities. In 1990 as a vice president of Colonial BancGroup, he worked with ADRS to implement the requirements of the newly enacted Americans with Disabilities Act.

Wilkinson serves as the current chairman of the Alabama Business Leadership Network (ABLN), a group that links Alabama businesses committed to disability issues. Through ABLN, he collaborates with other Alabama business leaders to provide resources, information links, and qualified job candidates to employers throughout the state. He is actively involved in the United States Business Leadership Network, which connects him with business leaders from around the country.

The University of Alabama graduate earned a bachelor of science in commerce and business administration-human resource management and is a member of the North Alabama Society for Human Resource Management and the national Society for Human Resource Management. He is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources and a Senior Certified Professional.

Mitch Strickland
District 7, Tuscaloosa

Strickland is a powerlifter who has won gold medals at several national and international competitions. He received a degree in public relations in 1995 from the University of Alabama. He was Alabama's 1991 Wheelchair Athlete of the Year and a 1991 inductee into the Dixie Wheelchair Sports Hall of Fame.
In addition to his involvement with ADRS, Strickland serves on the board of directors of Wheelchair Sports USA as well as the Paralympic Athlete's Advisory Committee.
He represents people with disabilities on the ADRS board.



Meeting minutes

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