Council Members

Members of the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) include former and current customers of the Department of Services for the Blind (DSB), parents of children and youth who are blind or have low vision, advocates, Labor and Industry representatives, employees of state educational agencies, and business owners.

What these members have in common is their leadership, commitment to DSB’s mission, and desire to develop and help grow the future of services for people who are blind or have low vision.

Council members are appointed by the Governor for no more than two 3-year consecutive terms. The SRC for the Blind actively seeks demographic and ethnic diversity among its members in addition to meeting the challenge of its statutory membership requirements.

The Council currently has four vacancies:

  • 2 labor and business representatives
  • 1 current or former recipient of VR services
  • 1 Washington State Independent Living Council representative
  • 1 State Workforce Investment Board representative

To apply for an appointment to the SRC, complete the State of Washington's Application for Gubernatorial Appointment to a Board or Commission AND email your resume to Debbie Cook.

For additional information on the State Rehabilitation Council, contact the council chair, Sue Ammeter.

Current Council Members

 

 

Sue Ammeter, Council Chair – Disability Advocacy Group

Port Hadlock, WA

Sue has been a disability/civil rights advocate for over 40 years. Sue worked for the City of Seattle, Washington State, and King County in the areas of civil rights, disability accommodations, and employee training. She served on the Board of Directors of the American Council of the Blind, as President of the Washington Council of the Blind for several terms, as Chair of the Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment, and as Chair of the Patron Advisory Council for the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library. She is now Chair of the SRC for the Blind since June 2011, and serves on the Assistive Technology Program Advisory Council.

Following her retirement in 2005 Sue and her husband John moved to their retirement “dream home” in Port Hadlock.

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Vaughn Brown – Current or Former Recipient of VR Services

Vancouver, WA

Vaughn joined the SRC with the goal of improving services and community awareness through sharing a fresh perspective. His experience of passing an animal massage law in 2007 gave Vaughn an understanding of the complexities of developing new ideas and an appreciation for politics and governmental affairs. He is a current recipient of VR services and a graduate from the Washington State School for the Blind.

Vaughn Brown resides in Vancouver, Washington. Growing up horseback riding, camping, and fishing, he believes in independence. Vaughn graduated from Berklee College in Boston with a Bachelor’s of Music and is now a self-employed as a music teacher.

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Lou Oma Durand, DSB Executive Director – Ex-Officio Member

Seattle, WA

Lou Oma Durand was appointed Executive Director of the Washington State Department of Services for the Blind (DSB) in July 2005. Previously she held the position of Deputy Director, as well as other executive and administrative positions since beginning her career at DSB in the late 1970's when it was the State Commission for the Blind.

Lou Oma left state government from 1984-86 to work in the private sector for the Boeing Corporation, where she was responsible for corporation-wide programs, including the Injured Worker Return to Work, the Medically Impaired Employee, and the Handicapped New Hire programs. Lou Oma received a Special Achievement Award for the "Return to Work" program, saving Boeing millions of dollars and enabling Boeing workers to remain employed.

Lou Oma worked for three years as a vocational rehabilitation counselor and 2 years as a rehabilitation teacher for Washington State Department of Services for the Blind. She spent 3 years as a high school English and humanities teacher at the Washington State School for the Blind and Vancouver School District. In addition to over 25 years of service in state government, Lou Oma has served on numerous education, arts and other non-profit boards, advisory councils, literary arts organizations, and legislative task forces.

Lou Oma is proud to lead a state agency that ranks in the nation's top 3 among agencies providing services to people with visual and other disabilities, using a variety of job placement quality indicators. Lou Oma believes it is a privilege to help people take charge of their lives and become contributing members of their community.

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Steve Fiksdal, Vice Chair – Business, Labor and Industry

Auburn, WA

Low vision brought a 25-year career in real estate brokerage management to a quiet conclusion. He is now the owner of ConnectEd Institute, which provides character strength assessment and education to individuals and teams. Steve says DSB played a significant role in the establishment of his new company and career by providing him the skills to succeed in a sighted world and the resources to form his own company, thus allowing him to embark on a new and exciting career.

In addition to his role on the State Rehabilitation Council, Steve is newly elected President of the Washington Council of the Blind, a consumer organization promoting advocacy and independence for Washington’s blind and visually impaired citizens.

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Bob Huven, M.Ed., CRC – Client Assistance Program

Seattle, WA

Bob has a Bachelors’ in Habilitation/Rehabilitation and American Sign Language as a Second Language from Antioch University. He also has a Master’s in Vocational Education from the University of Washington and is certified both as a sign language interpreter and rehabilitation counselor.

He brings to the SRC his experience as a person with a disability and 30 years’ experience working with blind, deaf, and other people who experience life with a disability.

Bob is leaving the SRC at the end of December. His contribution will be missed and we wish him success in his retirement endeavors.

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Tracy Kahlo – Parent Information and Training Center

Tacoma, WA

After moving to Washington in 1992, Tracy oversaw an Individual Employment Program serving persons with developmental disabilities residing in Pierce, King, and Thurston counties for a local employment vendor. This position achieved a personal goal of doing what she loved to do and getting paid to do it. It was during those eight years that she had the pleasure of collaborating with Linda Wilder from the DSB to find and secure employment for two individuals who are blind. Both gentlemen became employed at a statewide organization thanks to the joint partnership with the DSB, DVR, and DDD. In 2000, Tracy had her most rewarding educational experience while earning a Master’s in Not-for-Profit Leadership at Seattle University. She then enjoyed seven years as Vice President for a national not-for-profit in Seattle. In 2008, she was hired as the Executive Director of PAVE fulfilling her dreams to return to her home community of Pierce County and serve families in Washington State with loved ones who have a disability.

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Eva Larrauri – Qualified Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

Seattle, WA

Eva grew up in the Philippines and moved to Seattle, WA, with her parents, in 1992. Eva is multi-lingual (Tagalog, Bicol, and English) and has a 13-year old husky named Juno.

Eva joined the University of Washington, Center for Continuing Education in Rehabilitation as a Training and Information Specialist in March of 2014. She answers the NW ADA Hotline and provides face-to-face and webinar training related to ADA guidelines and disability issues, employment services, language and etiquettes, assistive technology and more.

Eva received her undergraduate degree from the University of Washington and her Master's degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Western Washington University (WWU), and is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. She spent nearly 14 years in the field of vocational rehabilitation counseling and employment services as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor at DSB. She currently serves as an Advisory Committee member at WWU's Rehabilitation Counseling graduate program. Eva has also been an appointee to the Governor's Committee on Disability and Employment Issues (GCDE) since 2009, and is the Co-Chair of the Youth Leadership Forum, a subcommittee of the GCDE.

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Nate Marshall – Community Rehabilitation Program

Port Townsend, WA

Nate graduated from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree from the Department of Philosophy and Religion. He moved to Washington State in 2002. He served in AmeriCorps as tutor in Oakville and Olympia and then became a VISTA staff member for Solid Ground at a high school in Seattle. While there he began working as an educational program assistant for the Seattle Jewish Film Festival. Nate then attended the University of Washington-Tacoma’s Non-Profit Management Program.

In June of 2014, Nate became the Employment Consultant for the Port Hadlock Office of Concerned Citizens, a regional social service agency, where he provides job placement and job coaching skills for disabled youth and adults in Jefferson County. Prior to current position, Nate worked at Tacoma Goodwill Industries in a number of different positions, including as a Placement Specialist with the YouthBuild program and as the Projects with Industry Career Consultant, which included working as a job placement vendor for the DSB.

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Debby Phillips – Current or Former Recipient of VR Services

Spokane, WA

Debby Phillips grew up in Oregon, attending the Oregon School for the Blind. She earned a Bachelor's degree in Social Services from George Fox University and a Master's in Theological Studies from Mount Angel Seminary.

Following several social service jobs, Debbie worked for the IRS for 10 years. During that time, she worked as a volunteer receptionist at a church office, among other volunteer activities. When she moved to Spokane with her husband Craig, Debby realized she had little confidence in herself. She asked the DSB to send her to the NFB Training Center in Colorado. When Debby returned, she was hired by the Inland Northwest Lighthouse as their Braille Instructor. She is now employed as a Production worker at the Lighthouse and is enjoying it very much.

Debby serves as Secretary for the National Federation of the Blind of Washington. She also serves as the Secretary for Patron Advisory Council for WTBBL. Debby and Craig live in Spokane with her Seeing Eye dog, Neena, her retired dog, Lamar, and cat, Flounder, whom they rescued. She enjoys singing in the choir at Saint Charles Boromeo Catholic Church.

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Yvonne Thomas-Miller – Section 121 Native American

Bellingham, WA

Yvonne has been employed part time by the Lummi Vocational Rehabilitation Program on the Lummi Reservation for more than four years as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Outreach. She is certified by the PET-AIR (Post Employment Training-American Indian Rehabilitation program) and is working to obtain her Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. Yvonne is a graduate of Evergreen State University in Olympia, Washington and the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Yvonne’s past vocation was as a fine artist, specializing in drawing, painting, silkscreen, and sculpture. She was employed by the tribe as a Graphic Artist and worked on the local tribal newspaper.

After losing most of her vision, Yvonne attended DSB’s Orientation Training Center. As an active member of the United Blind of Whatcom County and the Washington Council of the Blind, she welcomed the opportunity to work for the Lummi Vocational Rehabilitation program as a good match for her volunteer experience and education.

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Doug Trimble – State Education Department

Vancouver, WA

Doug Trimble has spent most of his life in the Vancouver/Portland area. He has been working at the Washington State School for the Blind since 1999. He currently teaches Orientation & Mobility to middle and high school students. Doug also works as an Older Blind Program provider, which he finds extremely rewarding.

Doug is married with two daughters who are in middle school. In his leisure time, he enjoys traveling, hiking, and watching football (go Seahawks!), basketball, and baseball. Doug also likes to tinker with technology, but his kids clearly know more than he does, of course!
Doug joined the SRC in October of 2014.

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Sheila Turner – Blind, with Multiple Disabilities

Pasco, WA

Sheila Turner, a lifelong Washington resident, has been legally blind since birth due to bilateral congenital cataracts. She is the second of 3 generations of blindness, inheriting the condition from her mother and passing it to two of her kids. Her mother was Sheila’s role model for self-advocacy, who, along with her dad, taught Sheila to believe in herself and her abilities. They have always supported and encouraged her and still do. Sheila is now trying to pass this value on to her children and to be an example for everyone in her life.

Sheila graduated from Washington State University in 2000 with a BA in Social Science. She is currently attending graduate school at the University of Northern Colorado. There, she is working towards a Master’s in Teaching of the Visually Impaired and becoming a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist.

Sheila is a single mother, sharing custody with her kids’ dad, and working full time as the Independent Living Older Blind teacher for the Edith Bishel Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Kennewick. She works with people aged 55 and older in south eastern Washington and has enjoyed the position for 13 years.

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Gloria Walling – Business, Industry, and Labor

Olympia, WA

Gloria grew up in New Mexico. In 2007, she enrolled in the DSB Business Enterprise Program (BEP). Through the BEP, she received training and became a licensed operator in 2008, managing cafeterias and other locations.

Gloria is involved in her community and currently serves as President of the local chapter of the Washington Counsel of the Blind and has been a member of the Legislative committee. She is also Vice-Chair for the BEP Vender’s committee.

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