The Barbara Stone Foundation pulled a cohort of service providers and stakeholders together in 2013 with a belief that working together would improve outcomes for individuals with disabilities. This collaborative effort grew and is now call Greenville CAN (Collaborative Action Network).
The Barbara Stone Foundation has provided financial support for Greenville CAN since 2013 and made the decision in 2018 to serve as the official home for the Greenville CAN coalition providing additional financial and staff support.
- Greenville CAN is not a formal organization; instead, it is a coalition of self-advocates, service providers, families, caregivers, and professionals committed to making Greenville a better place to live for individuals with disabilities.
- Our strength comes from individuals and organizations working together to create change.
- We believe the best way to increase services, programs, access, opportunities, and resources in our community for individuals with disabilities is through collaboration and partnership.
- Instead of creating new organizations to fill perceived gaps in our community, we address community needs by linking organizations together, leveraging available resources to expand capacity, and advocating for system and policy change.
GREENVILLE CAN Coalition Management Team
Our Coalition Management Team consist of strategic priority team chairs plus other key community stakeholders. Project Teams include: Transportation – Civic Engagement – Healthy Relationships – Transition – ADA / Access – Recreation.
Coalition Management Team Members:
- Chris Sparrow – Barbara Stone Foundation
- Sean Tuck – Self-advocate
- Robin Blackwood – Parent
- Josh Wall – Greenville County Parks and Rec
- Marion Elliott – Barbara Stone Foundation Board
- Ruben Alvarez – Self-advocate
- Jennifer Ferguson – Self-advocate
- Allison Fleahman – Project SEARCH
- Dana McConnell – Center for Developmental Services
- Mike Jank – City of Greenville
- Tyler Rex – Thrive Upstate
- Sandy Jordan – Able SC
Executive Director – Lara Ceisel
Lara is the Executive Director of the Barbara Stone Foundation which operates several programs and initiatives, including Greenville CAN and the UP Employment Initiative. Providing opportunities and support for the disability community has been Lara Ceisel’s work and passion for more than two decades. “The journey continues to be life-changing. In college, things took an extraordinary turn when a Chicago suburbs elementary school principal suggested that I apply for a teacher’s aide position in a Special Education classroom.”
While pursuing her degree in Special Education from Arizona State University, Lara worked as a ABA therapist for children with Autism, and participated in a graduate level Anthropology program. She moved to the Upstate in 2008 to work for YMCA Camp Greenville as a Program Coordinator and Outdoor Educator. In 2010 she began to work for Greenville County Rec as Area Director of Special Olympics Greenville, administrator for Camp Spearhead and supervisor to Spearhead’s Camper / Worker Program, where she lived and worked for 10 and a half years. Throughout her career, Lara has gained multi-faceted experience focused on the disability community, including accessibility, case management, education, employment, service provision, and recreation – and continues to collaborate with the many advocates, service providers, families, caregivers, and business professionals working in support of individuals with disabilities. Today, one of the things that motivates her is the importance of more options and equitable opportunities for people with disabilities.
Lara is also a 300-level certified yoga instructor. During her time off, she teaches yoga and loves adventuring, whether hiking, going to concerts, or traveling to San Diego, CA to spend time with family, especially her niece and nephew.
Program Manager – Chris Sparrow
Chris is the Program Manager for Greenville CAN. Chris is a native to Greenville, SC, and is dedicated to making Greenville, SC a better place to live and visit for people with disabilities. He graduated from Eastside High School and USC Upstate with a Bachelors of Arts in Communication. In 2012, Chris experienced a rare neurological event which left him paralyzed from the waist down. From that point Chris knew he was meant to serve a large purpose in life. Shortly afterwards, Chris became active in the local disability community, and began working in the disability advocacy field. Chris is especially interested in improving accessibility, adaptive sports and building a more engaged disability community in Greenville.
Partnership Engagement / Communications Coordinator: Robin Blackwood
Robin has been a volunteer for Greenville CAN since its formation serving on the Leadership Team and various workgroups. Robin has over 25 years of experience in Public Relations and Marketing and has expertise in strategic PR planning, media relations, social media and marketing campaigns. She serves as a champion for the disability community and is a former Commissioner for SC Department of Disabilities and Special Needs. She is currently a board member of Disability Rights of SC and chair of PAIDD Advisory Council, a member of Prisma Upstate Community Advisory Council, a League Academy PTA board member and on the school’s Student Improvement Council. She also is a member of the Washington Center’s Student Improvement Council. In 2011, Robin completed the Partners in Policymaking program, which is run by the Developmental Disabilities Council of SC. She grew up in Orangeburg, SC, has lived in Greenville since 1997 and is a graduate of University of South Carolina. Robin enjoys the beaches of SC, spending time with friends and family, and helping others understand thechallenges of those living with an intellectual disability.
Legacy Circle Members: (Former Leadership Team Members)
Greenville CAN’s ability to affect change is a direct result of the vision, leadership, and effort of all of the individuals who have participated in a leadership capacity with Greenville CAN.
- Muriel Taylor – Family Connection
- Susan Leiby – Autism Society
- Jeff Dezen – Jeff Dezen Public Relations
- Bill Welch – Broken Wing Farm
- Dr. Desmond Kelly – Greenville Health System
- Susan Sachs – Project Hope Foundation
- Sandy Hanebrink – Touch the Future
- Carolyn O’Connell – Community Advocate
- Alex Garvey – Bon Secours St. Francis
- Susan Kastner – Family Connection
- Susan Howard – Greenville County Schools
- Cheryl Johnson – Greenville County Schools
- Skeeter Powell – David’s Table
- Linda Marlow – Community Advocate
- Rhonda Mumford – Department of Disabilities and Special Needs
- Princella Lee Bridges – Bridges from Augusta
- Randy Risser – Shriners Hospital Greenville
- David Turnipseed – SC Vocational Rehabilitation
- Kerry Reese – SC Vocational Rehabilitation
- Chris Neeley – Meyer Center
- Ken Dority – NAMI
- Sally Wills – Livewell Greenville
- Amy Hallasy – Barbara Stone Foundation
- Steve Hand – Greenville Tech
- Mari Steinbach – City of Greenville Parks and Recreation
- Paula Carnahan
- Mindy Ramsey – Family Connection
- Vickie Kilbride – Down Syndrome Alliance of the Upstate
- John Cocciolone – Colonel Consulting
- Joy Ivester – Center for Disability Resources
- Chris Moylan – Prisma Health