Press Release

DNL news release – Whiteman transition
April 27, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

With Todd Whiteman’s decision to end his nine-year run as executive director of Disability Network/Lakeshore (DNL) in January, the DNL board of directors responded by enacting a transition plan and appointing a search committee that hopes to have a new executive director in place by September.

Whiteman left on January 17 to become the district director for U. S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (MI-02), and the DNL board of directors appointed longtime director of operations Rick Diamond as acting executive director. A search committee was named and began its work in March; the board of directors also contracted with the Lakeshore Nonprofit Alliance and executive director Patrick Cisler to consult with the search committee.

“DNL is positioned with both staff and financial resources to confidently move through the next quarter-century,” said Whiteman, who had been named as DNL’s second executive director in 2011 following the retirement of founding executive director Ruth Stegeman. “My departure should only cause a minor pause as everything necessary for sustained success is already here.

“The next leader inherits a very dynamic and capable team of staff and board members. DNL’s staff is very comfortable with innovation and has a track record of agility in adapting to environmental changes.”

Such agility has been put to the test already in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. DNL staff has been working remotely since mid-March by responding to inquiries, adapting existing and upcoming programming as needed, and reaching out to all of its customers to provide appropriate support. DNL also canceled an April 2 open-house farewell that had been planned to honor Whiteman, and it canceled a one-man June fundraiser called Pars for a Purpose, which last year generated $35,000 in local revenue.

“We’re grateful for Todd’s leadership within the community and we’ll certainly miss him,” said board president Amber Marcy. “He has helped create a very healthy organization that’s working daily to connect people with disabilities to resources and opportunities while building communities where everyone can participate, contribute, and belong.”

The next chapter of DNL’s relationship with Whiteman offers the promise of advancing the mission of DNL and its foundational Independent Living philosophy within Huizenga’s congressional district, which encompasses eight Michigan counties and includes three Centers for Independent Living (serving 12 counties).

“Part of my job is to serve as a liaison between the community and the legislative and policy staff about the critical issues confronting those in the district,” Whiteman said. “DNL’s mission of ‘participate, contribute, and belong’ certainly means that more people in the 2nd Congressional District are prospering and leading rich lives of independence.”

A job posting and application for the next executive director should be available on DNL’s website (dnlakeshore.org) sometime in May.

“We’re still working on the details of what we’re looking for, but the next executive director will be responsible for developing and managing DNL as it helps governments, businesses, and other organizations make changes that improve life for everyone in Allegan and Ottawa counties, particularly people with disabilities,” Marcy said.

Disability Network/Lakeshore serves more than 1,500 people annually, focusing on the needs of the whole person—not just their disability—so they can achieve a more balanced life. Its core services include information and referral, transition, peer support, advocacy, and skills development.

DNL is one of 15 regional Centers for Independent Living (CIL) in Michigan and 340 CILs nationwide. The term “center for independent living” means a consumer-controlled, community-based, cross-disability, nonresidential, private, nonprofit agency that is designed and operated within a local community by individuals with disabilities, providing an array of independent living services. A minimum of 51 percent of all staff and the board of directors must be persons with disabilities.

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For more information, contact DNL at 616-396-5236 or info@dnlakeshore.org.

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