For almost 20 years, Independent Futures has been a haven for individuals with disabilities and their families navigating the adult world after public school supports end. In Illinois, we rank 47th nationally in funding for services that promote community inclusion and 47th in community employment. Families are left not knowing where to turn with a state-funded disability services system that lacks resources and opportunities for real choice and self-determination.
Independent Futures provides an answer. Adults with disabilities benefit from planning, training, inclusive housing, and a range of support services that they choose – to achieve full, active, socially engaged, and independent lives.
“We invite you to watch the following video to hear firsthand how our work focuses on the hopes and dreams of individuals and families we support,” says Dick Malone, Executive Director of Center for Independent Futures. “We help individuals and families to find both independence and peace of mind.”
SPARK gives us a chance to celebrate the stellar individuals and organizations who support our work every day. Recipients of the Jane Doyle Awesome Awards represent Independent Futures through dedication, innovative leadership, personal integrity, and community-forward thinking. These awards are given to a community partner, a participant, and a staff member.
Community Partner: As an employer of Independent Futures’ participants, Trader Joe’s openly allows and encourages on-the-job coaching which gives participants a true path to success. They further support Independent Futures by donating countless items to our fundraisers. Trader Joe’s is a community-driven organization, an asset as an employer, and a generous community member.
Participant: Adam Wiser generously shares his time, his talent & his positive attitude to support Independent Futures. As a self-advocate, Adam speaks out and speaks up to share his knowledge and to advocate for what he believes in. In community meetings, Adam asks great questions, shares his experience in a way that helps educate and inform others. When the Young Professional Board interviewed for 2 open positions, Adam’s self-advocacy skills shone brightly and he was an obvious choice to serve. Adam always finds a way to make suggestions, and is thoughtful, caring & has a fun sense of humor!
Staff: This year, tonight’s staff award seems like an obvious choice as we honor Ann Sickon for her leadership these past 10 years. Ann has exemplified all of the values that Kay and Jane envisioned for Center for Independent Futures 20 years ago. Ann’s steadfast, calm, creative, and compassionate leadership has helped Independent Futures grow in innumerable ways during her tenure. In particular, her faith and commitment to our mission, our staff, and our community kept Independent Futures moving forward through a global pandemic that forced the disability service providers across the nation to close their doors in record numbers. Numerous staff members commented that there was no better person to steer our ship during COVID than Ann. Ann has demonstrated over and over again a passionate desire to see people with disabilities fully included in the community.
Center for Independent Futures is excited to announce that Richard “Dick” Malone will be joining CIF as our third Executive Director. Ann Sickon will continue in the short term as Independent Futures’ Senior Executive Advisor.
Dick will be joining Center for Independent Futures after 11 years at the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, where he was President and CEO. Dick will be bringing his experience in nonprofit leadership to Independent Futures to support individuals with disabilities as they live full lives in the community. As a parent of an adult with disabilities, Dick is highly motivated and invested in Center for Independent Futures’ mission.
Additionally, Dick will bring years of experience in publishing and digital media as a senior executive at Tribune Publishing and the Chicago Tribune.
“Since its founding nearly 20 years ago, Center for Independent Futures has made great things possible for adults with disabilities regarding equal opportunity, security, housing, and overall quality of life. I am proud and thankful to have the chance to work with such a talented staff as we strive to ensure full, active, happy, socially engaged, and independent lives for the individuals we serve,” says Dick. “I’m also fortunate to follow Executive Director Ann Sickon, who successfully led the organization through challenging times and has taken it to new heights.”
“We are fortunate that Dick has agreed to join us. He brings a wealth of experience and passion,” says Dana LaChapelle, Co-President of the CIF Board of Directors. “Ann is a tough act to follow, but we look forward to working with Dick in this next chapter of the organization as we expand on our mission of supporting individuals with disabilities.”
Fellow Co-Chair of the Independent Futures Board of Directors, Ira Mitchell, adds, “I am looking forward to seeing how Dick will use his experience in guiding Independent Futures not just to sustain our current reach, but to lead us in areas where we can grow and strengthen our organization.”