Who We Are

About Us: Our Story

In 1980, it all started around a kitchen table in Goffstown, NH. Four people, each living with a disability, came together to overcome countless barriers and the lack of services available.

They wanted to help people with disabilities in New Hampshire gain the confidence and control needed to realize their dream of living a full, complete and independent life just like everyone else.

With a shoestring budget of $40,000, created from personal bank accounts and donations from family and friends, Granite State Independent Living (GSIL) began its grassroots journey. These efforts soon grew to helping people with all types of disabilities overcome countless social and community barriers.

Today, as a statewide non-profit and New Hampshire’s only Center for Independent Living, we stay close to our roots with a focus on our 5 core services of education, information, advocacy, support and transition services for people with disabilities and underserved youth. We are able to speak and think with authority on behalf of the people we serve and support because we are led  by a board of directors and staff of which over 51% are people with disabilities.

We carry out our mission through our Home Care Services, Community-Based Disability Supports and Employment Services. With the help of our local New Hampshire communities, we assist people with tools for living life independently, so they can change their lives for the better. While much has changed over the years, one thing remains the same; GSIL is committed to the principle of personal choice and direction.

 

Our Values

Granite State Independent Living (GSIL) is a statewide nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote quality of life with independence for people with disabilities through advocacy, information, education, support and transition services.

 

  • Integrity
  • Respect
  • Collaboration
  • Empowerment
  • Independence
  • Choices

Board Executives

We are able to speak and think with authority on behalf of the people we serve and support because we are led by a board of directors and staff of which over 51% are people with disabilities.

lorna Lorna Greer Board Chair
lorna

Lorna Greer

Board Chair

Anti-Discrimination Investigator, NH Human Rights Commission (retired), Resides in Whitefield, NH

Lorna was an Anti-Discrimination Investigator for the NH Human Rights Commission from 1984 to 2007. She has worked in social services, on political campaigns in Littleton, and ran for town select board. She served several years as a volunteer for the Whitefield Fire and Rescue completing EMT classes.  She also served on the State Rehabilitation Council where she sought to make Vocational Rehabilitation Services available to those who were eligible. She worked with state agencies, legislators, judges and community leaders to help formulate a new Child Protective Services System for a Western metropolitan area the size of NH.  She interviewed and assessed situations where discrimination was alleged and mediated settlements where possible.  She spent 17 years as a Child Protective Services Social Worker, performing group and family counseling. Lorna also served for several years on the Board for the State Employees Association. She ran her own restaurant and a private consulting firm doing investigations.

Lorna holds a Master’s in Management and Organization, from Antioch New England Graduate School; a B.A. in Political Science from UNH and she is also a Certified Paralegal and Justice of the Peace.

Lorna believes she represents GSIL well and has a strong belief in its mission.  She is a strong believer in the dignity and resilience of the individual, in enhancing a person’s self-worth and self-esteem, especially those with disabilities.  Lorna’s osteoarthritis affects her mobility, and until she had knee replacement surgery, she was unable to negotiate stairs, ordinary bathrooms, high steps or walking any distance.  Her back now prevents her from doing what others can. Because of this she has experienced, first-hand, the isolation of being unable to enter places where others had no barriers. She also believes in the right of every individual with disabilities to be independent and valued for who they are, and not for what impairs them. In being able to believe in themselves and know that they are valued, it will give them the impetus to reach heights never believed possible.

Larry Smukler Larry Smukler 1st Vice Chair
Larry Smukler

Larry Smukler

1st Vice Chair

NH Superior Court Associate Justice (Retired), Artist, Resides in Concord, NH

Larry was a NH Superior Court judge for 23 years before he retired in 2015. Since then, he has served in senior status and returned to school at Maine Media College, where he earned an MFA in 2019. Before his appointment as a judge, Larry was an attorney specializing in public utility law. In that capacity, he served as assistant counsel to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and counsel to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.

Following his relocation to New Hampshire, Larry was a research fellow at the Franklin Pierce Law Center (now UNH Law), general counsel to the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission, Senior Assistant Attorney General, and Chairman of the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission, where he was serving when he was appointed to the bench. Larry earned a BS in psychology and an M Ed in counseling from Penn State University, a JD (cum laude) from Temple University School of Law and an MFA from Maine Media College.

He is currently living with his family, pursuing a post-degree fellowship at Maine Media, and making art in Concord, New Hampshire.

Eric Schlepphorst Eric Schlepphorst 2nd Vice Chair
Eric Schlepphorst

Eric Schlepphorst

2nd Vice Chair

Dr. Schlepphorst is a retired physician after practicing in the Concord and Manchester communities for over 20 years. Since retirement he has served on the boards of several area non- profits including Granite State Independent Living. He is active in the Hopkinton Rotary Club, serving as club President 2014-15 and is presently serving as the Rotary Foundation Chair. He enjoys spending time with his family, cooking, handcycling, travelling and camping.

Geoff Souther Geoffrey Souther Treasurer & Secretary
Geoff Souther

Geoffrey Souther

Treasurer & Secretary

New Hampshire DHHS (Retired), Resides in Canterbury, NH

Geoffrey Souther recently retired after more than forty years’ experience serving people with mental illness in both the public and private non-profit sectors. He served in several senior positions within the NH Department of Health and Human Services, including, as Chief Operating Officer at the New Hampshire Hospital, and as Director of Behavioral Health. Geoff’s community experience includes clinical and management positions at NH Community Mental Health Centers and as Executive Director of Community Mental Health Centers in Kansas and Connecticut. He holds an undergraduate degree from Ottawa University, KS, Master’s degrees from the University of Southern California and Antioch New England Graduate School.

Goeff is a veteran of United States Army and has been, and continues to be, active providing community service in both a volunteer and elected capacity on numerous boards, committees, and service organizations. He lives with his wife Bobbie, his oldest daughter and her three children in Canterbury, NH.

Board Members

Theo Vorgias Theo Vougias Board Member
Theo Vorgias

Theo Vougias

Board Member

Associate Devine Millimet, Resides in Windham, NH

Theo is a Shareholder at Devine Millimet, and a member of the Trusts and Estates Practice Group, helping individuals and families prepare wills, revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, supplemental needs trusts, financial powers of attorney, advance directives for health, and other matters related to estate planning. He also helps clients with trust and estate administrative matters.

Theo has a particular interest in giving elders peace of mind through a comprehensive estate plan, which might include revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, or supplemental needs trusts, along with traditional wills.

Outside of work, Theo enjoys his children’s extra-curricular activities, including crew, band, baseball, hockey, and basketball. Theo is a lifelong member of St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, where he enjoys helping out with the annual Glendi festival. Community Involvement includes the St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

Iris Polley Iris Polley Board Member
Iris Polley

Iris Polley

Board Member

Sobriety through Photography, Resides in Hinsdale, NH

Iris Polley, faithful GSIL consumer since 2008, after a car accident placed her in the driver seat of a wheelchair. She lives independently in her home with 2 felines: MacyGrae, and LilyAllen, and 2 young rats (Beyoncé and Adele) in training as therapy animals.

Iris earned a BS in Sociology from Texas ATM and has over 20yrs working in mental health and addictions with adults and children. She was self-employed as a massage therapist until her accident.

Iris, is currently an active volunteer with the Monadnock Humane Society, assisting in dog therapy training. She is active in her community, enjoys reading, concerts, cooking for her partner (Jenny), adaptive skiing and kayaking, loves time outdoors, peer mentoring, nature photography, learning about health, animal welfare and ADA advocacy.

Kevin Ennis Kevin Ennis Board Member
Kevin Ennis

Kevin Ennis

Board Member

Kevin has had many years’ experience working in the disability rights and self-advocacy worlds. Kevin is a consumer of GSIL’s Personal Care Attendant Program and excited to bring fresh perspective to the board. He is a 2014 Graduate of the UNH Leadership series.  Kevin is always seeking new avenues to increase his involvement with organizations that serve the disability population. Kevin holds a bachelors’ degree from UNH. Kevin then went on to train as a medical interpreter through Boston University.

Don McDonah Don McDonah, M.D. Board Member
Don McDonah

Don McDonah, M.D.

Board Member

Board Certified Physician in Family Medicine and Hospice & Palliative Care, Resides in Nashua, NH.

Practicing for over 40 years, Don has spent 28 of those years at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Nashua, NH. With a keen understanding of the diverse populations throughout Southern NH, Don found it critical to do house calls to ensure patients received the care they needed.

Don is confident his personal experiences will serve him well carrying out GSIL’s mission to promote quality of life with independence for people disabilities.

Grant Van Der Beken Grant Van Der Beken Board Member
Grant Van Der Beken

Grant Van Der Beken

Board Member

Regional Sales Director, The Hartford, Resides in Bedford, NH

Grant has been in Group Benefits sales with The Hartford since 2005. In his current role, Grant oversees the Hartford’s Group Benefits New England region. In addition to the regional responsibilities, Grant is the national sales lead for The Hartford's Public and Education vertical and provide sales support to our Paid Family Medical Leave product organizations.

Since 2010, Grant is involved in the CrossFit community and has participated in some small competitions around the region. Currently, Grant holds a CrossFit Level 1 training certificate. Grant resides in Bedford, NH with his two young sons and enjoys everything the Granite State has to offer. Grant holds a B.A. in Economics from Union College (Schenectady, NY).

Bruce Higginbotham Bruce Higginbotham Board Member
Bruce Higginbotham

Bruce Higginbotham

Board Member

Resides in Contoocook, NH

Bruce has over 25 years working in the human services industry managing and consulting in the staffing industry. While working in technology, legal and healthcare arenas, Bruce gained broad network of contacts. Bruce started his career in Boston where he met his wife, Amy. They are proud parents of Nicholas, Annie, and Ty. Bruce currently works for Total Golf Management part time and can often be found on the golf course.

Dave Qualey headshot Dave Qualey Board Member
Dave Qualey headshot

Dave Qualey

Board Member

Certified Mobility Consultant, Mobility Works, Resides in Raymond, NH

Dave joined Mobility Works in 2004 because he wanted a career that would allow him to help people with disabilities achieve independence through mobility. Mobility Works is America’s largest provider of modified vehicles and adaptive equipment for people with disabilities. Dave is the father of three teenage boys, including one with cerebral palsy. He is actively involved within the mobility challenged community whether it’s participating or donating to different organizations such as the MDA, MS Society, BIA and ALS Society. Dave is a United States Marine Corps Veteran of Operation Desert Storm and has a Bachelor in Management from Bridgewater State University, Bridgewater, MA.

Leadership Team

Granite State Independent Living (GSIL) is led by highly-qualified team of executives.

Deborah Deborah Ritcey MPA/HA, President & Chief Executive Officer
Deborah

Deborah Ritcey

MPA/HA, President & Chief Executive Officer

Has led Granite State Independent Living since 2019, serving as its leader during one of the most challenging times in our history, preserving programs and serving clients as needed throughout the pandemic. During that timeframe, she worked with legislative leaders to target budget dollars towards essential services and helped secure one of the largest pay increases ever for workers in the disability services field. Deb previously served 2 ½ years on the Board of Directors holding several critical positions prior to her appointment as CEO.

This work is personal. Deborah has over 30 years’ experience working with and raising a son with disabilities. Her life’s path has steered her to this work as she has dedicated her career to improving the lives of those often left behind.

She began this effort like so many others, by volunteering to give back and help others, through her work with local state and national nonprofit organizations. Her goal was to help educate folks on living with a loved one with a disability, to be a voice for those who have none and an advocate for people who felt disenfranchised from our daily lives and routines. In finding her voice, Deb discovered a passion for working with other families in similar situations, and she taught them to advocate for their child’s right to an education. She has developed a reputation in the industry as passionate and tough, but kind-hearted and a team-builder.

During her career tenure in the healthcare industry, Deborah has worked in the Medicare and Medicaid space, improving the lives of program recipients. Deborah has a keen sense of what is needed for those living with a disability and to live as independently as possible, regardless of their abilities. She uses those instincts to improve programs, help individuals and affect change for the better.

While at Granite State Independent Living, Deborah is looking forward to improving the lives of folks using services with GSIL. Additionally, she is excited to bring new opportunities to grow the business while maintaining the mission of promoting quality of life with independence for people living with a disability.

Deborah resides in Derry, NH with her husband Doug, the memory of her son Matthew, and three dogs.

Jill Bille Jill Bille (pronounced Billy), MBA Chief Financial Officer
Jill Bille

Jill Bille (pronounced Billy), MBA

Chief Financial Officer

Jill joined GSIL as Chief Financial Officer in September 2019. Jill leads all aspects of GSIL’s financial, information technology and facilities functions. Throughout her career, Jill has established a reputation for leading and developing high functioning teams to improve performance and productivity and for driving cross-functional collaboration. Jill is committed to maintaining a high level of integrity and transparency.

Jill brings to the organization many years of leadership and versatile accounting, auditing and financial management experience in the private, public and nonprofit sectors. Prior to joining GSIL, Jill most recently held senior leadership positions in the nonprofit sector working in

community healthcare and in human services for individuals with developmental disabilities. This mission driven work led Jill to become very passionate about working to improve the lives of those living with a disability and underserved populations. Prior to this, Jill spent many years in progressive leadership positions in the public sector working in financial and investment management services for large banks and investment management companies. Outside of her responsibilities at GSIL, Jill serves on the Board of Directors, Finance Committee and Governance & Nominations Committee for Amoskeag Health in Manchester, NH.

Caset Lavoie headshot Casey Lavoie Sr. Executive Assistant
Caset Lavoie headshot

Casey Lavoie

Sr. Executive Assistant

Casey joined Granite State Independent living in 2015 as the Executive Assistant. She has over 15 years’ experience of Administrative, Customer Service and Office management experience. Casey currently works as the Senior Executive Assistant of Granite State Independent Living. In her role she supports the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer and other members of the Leadership team. She is also the Liaison to GSIL’s Board of Directors.

Casey studied Business and Communications at Plymouth State College and The University of New Hampshire. Her organization, attention to detail and passion for helping others have driven the direction of her career.

Casey resides in Goffstown, NH with her husband Eric and their three daughters. She enjoys attending their extracurricular activities including softball, Field hockey, gymnastics, and lacrosse. She volunteers within the Goffstown Community and enjoys yoga and traveling.

Ashley Palma Ashley Palma Director of Community Services
Ashley Palma

Ashley Palma

Director of Community Services

Ashley Palma has served Granite Staters since 2016, in a variety of roles with Granite State Independent Living (GSIL) and now serves as the Director of Community Services. Ashley has experience in counseling beneficiaries on various types of Social Security, Federal, and State benefits. Ashley has her Master of Science in Health Care Administration/Management and is a licensed Youth Development Practitioner from the Department of Labor and Cornell University as well as a WIPA Community Work Incentive Coordinator.  Ashley has lived in the Capital Area most of her life and lives with her partner, Damian and her dog, Sledge in Hill. In her spare time, Ashley enjoys walks with her dog, hiking, reading, and a good bowl of chips and salsa.

Ann Malburne Ann Malburne Director of Human Resources
Ann Malburne

Ann Malburne

Director of Human Resources

Ann leads the Human Resources department in areas of recruitment & retention, talent management, compensation, employee relations, benefits, and workplace safety. Ann brings 20 years of diverse Human Resources experience to GSIL from working in various industries throughout her career.

Ann holds a BA in Business Administration from Southern New Hampshire University and is also hold certifications in PHR and SHRM. Ann loves her Human Resources work and can’t imagine doing anything else!

In her free time, Ann enjoys being with her family and friends and escaping to the beach.

Cheryl Pinheiro 1 Cheryl Pinheiro Sr. Director of Long Term Supports
Cheryl Pinheiro 1

Cheryl Pinheiro

Sr. Director of Long Term Supports

While at GSIL, Cheryl has been improving the lives of Granite Staters for the past 14 years. She received her nursing degree from NH Technical Institute in Manchester in 1995 and has been working in a community-based setting providing nursing support for Seniors and those living with a disability throughout NH and Massachusetts for the last 25 years. As a believer in continued education, Cheryl received her Case Management Certification in 2017. She has been part of UNH Project ECHO since Feb 2022.

When not advocating for consumers or attendant care employees, Cheryl enjoys spending time with her chihuahuas and three granddaughters.

Maureen O'Donnell Maureen O'Donnell Director of Educational Services
Maureen O'Donnell

Maureen O'Donnell

Director of Educational Services

Maureen has over 40 years of experience working in the field of education and rehabilitation. She has worked at Granite State Independent Living since 1995 and is currently the Director of Education Services. She was instrumental in the creation and development of the IMPACCT Academy and Earn and Learn Opportunities program. These career focused programs assist at- risk high school students with disabilities to become re-engaged in their education and prepared for life after high school by providing transition skills training and Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs) for academic credits. She has helped hundreds of students accomplish their goals of graduating from high school, developing independent living skills, and obtaining employment.

Prior to GSIL, Maureen worked as a Special Educator at alternative education programs in New Hampshire and Connecticut. She has a wealth of knowledge in the field of rehabilitation and worked in partnership with Vocational Rehabilitation NH (VRNH), developing several employment sites and placing numerous individuals with disabilities in successful job placements. She has worked collaboratively with “school to work" transition programs in school districts throughout the state of NH and, led the way in developing the application of group Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs).

Maureen is currently a member of the State Rehabilitation Council. She has received the NH Rehabilitation Association Professional of the Year award and Job Developer Recognition for Success in the Earn and Learn program from the State Rehabilitation Council.

Val Kidder Valerie Kidder Director of Administration
Val Kidder

Valerie Kidder

Director of Administration

Valerie Kidder joined GSIL in 2012 and is currently the Director Administration. Prior to this role, Valerie also held various other leadership positions within GSIL. For the last 20 years, Valerie has devoted her career to the Health Care Industry and remains very passionate about her work in this area. She received her MBA from Rivier University. Valerie was a former Board Member for the NH Conference on Aging, was a committee member for the NH Caregivers Conference, and has worked as a back-up personal care attendant helping individuals remain independent in their home. She also volunteered at the Southern NH Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter in Nashua.

Our Locations in New Hampshire

GSIL is a statewide nonprofit organization with 6 offices located throughout the state. Find the GSIL office near you.

Concord, NH – Main Office

21 Chenell Drive
Concord, NH 03301

603- 228-9680
1-800-826-3700 (toll-free)
603-225-3304 (fax)
TTY 711 | 800-735-2964

Manchester, NH Office

60 Rogers Street, Suite 209
Manchester, NH 03104

603-518-4600
1-800-773-4033
603-627-3780 (fax)
TTY 711 | 800-735-2964

Littleton, NH Office

76 Main Street
Littleton, NH 03561

603-228-9680
1-800-826-3700 (toll-free)
603-444-3128 (fax)
TTY 711 | 800-735-2964

Nashua, NH Office

14 Celina Ave, Unit #14
Nashua, NH 03065

603-228-9680
1-800-826-3700 (toll-free)
603-883-5134 (fax)
TTY 711 | 800-735-2964

Dover, NH Office

McConnell Center
61 Locust Street
Dover, NH 03820

603-228-9680
800-826-3700
TTY 711 | 800-735-2694

Board & Staff Testimonials

"GSIL is not only an organization that offers significant services but a family of professionals who work with compassion, integrity, and humility.”
Ed Costa
Board of Directors Member
“As a GSIL BOD member, I’m proud to interface with other caring professionals.”
Mike Byrne
Board of Directors Member
“I have seen GSIL's extremely dedicated and caring aides, staff and leadership always striving to promote an independent lifestyle for those living with disabilities."
Ken Traum
GSIL Treasurer

GSIL Reports

Annual Reports

Stay up-to-date by checking out the latest GSIL Annual Reports. Track our progress each year to see where we’ve been, where we are and where we are heading as an organization.

990 – Our Financial Health

Stay up-to-date by checking out the latest GSIL Annual Reports. Track our progress each year to see where we’ve been, where we are and where we are heading as an organization. Learn more at our Guidestar.