The CFILC Staff
Our staff is a richly diverse group of individuals from various backgrounds and experiences. We invite you to learn more about us.
Megan Cowdell Digital Access Project Specialist
Megan is excited to be closing the digital divide by helping people gain access to the Internet. She joined CFILC in February 2015 after working as a nanny for several local families.
A native of San Diego, Megan left California to pursue a nursing degree at SUNY Buffalo. She quickly got tired of the cold weather and was happy to return to the Golden State.
When not in the office, Megan can be found curled up with a good book, baking new creations, or traveling with her husband.
Jose Guerrero Creative Designer & Developer
Raised in a small town in Southern California Jose enlisted in the Navy at age 17 to escape dire circumstances. In 2010 he completed his enlistment and was honorably discharged.
He did not depart without sustaining injuries from strenuous physical stresses endured in a high risk high stress environment. He knew he had to change careers and took this chance to use his MGIBill to go to CSU Fresno for what his true calling was, Graphic Design, all the while taking web development classes on-line to supplement his hobby of web programming. He also volunteered his expertise to help promote various campus veteran's organizations and was actively engaged in helping returning veterans adjust to civilian and collegiate life.
Kim Lathrop Digital Access Project Specialist
Kim was born and raised in Sacramento. She works to provide access to low cost internet, discounted computers and laptops and free digital literacy classes to people with disabilities who do not have access to the digital world. She is also a member of the Association of California State Employees with Disabilities and on the IHSS Board of Supervisors.
Phil Thompson Administrative & Accounting Director
Phil Thompson, Administrative and Accounting Director first worked at CFILC in 2005 and officially joined the CFILC staff in 2006.
Phil has over 20 years of experience in both accounting and business management. Phil's prior experience includes Real Estate / Hotel Property Management, Restaurant Management and State & Federal Tax preparation.
Henry Contreras Public Policy Director
Henry J. Contreras is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of California. He possesses over 28 years of legal, legislative, public policy, and consulting experience while working in the California State Legislature and the United States House of Representatives. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Occidental College and a Juris Doctor Degree from the UCLA School of Law.
His professional career began when he was appointed as a Deputy Legislative Counsel for the Legislative Counsel Bureau, the non-partisan bureau that functions as the attorneys for Members of the California State Assembly and California Senate and was responsible for drafting bills, amendments, and legal opinions. During his 10-year tenure, he specialized in Local Government, Education, Higher Education, Criminal Law, and Civil Procedure. In 1990, he joined the Office of Assemblywoman Lucille Roybal-Allard as her Principal Consultant and Chief of Staff and joined her in Washington D.C. for five years as her Chief of Staff following her election to the United States House of Representatives.
Upon his return to California, he joined the Office of Robert M. Hertzberg as his State Capitol Director during the period when he was the Chair of the Assembly Rules Committee and the Speaker of the Assembly. He subsequently joined the Office of the Assembly Majority Floor Leader and California Latino Legislative Caucus Chair Marco A. Firebaugh as his Chief of Staff and Legal Counsel. From 2005-2008, he operated his own legal and legislative consulting firm, Contreras & Associates, prior to accepting his current position as the Public Policy Director for the California Foundation for Independent Living Center.
Emily Flynn Information & Advocacy Specialist
Emily was born and raised in Solano County. After struggling through school because of her own disabilities, she is now committed to helping students be successful in school. She has worked with children with a wide range of disabilities for many years. She has volunteered for many organizations such as: Coats for Kids, Boys and Girls Club of America, and the Solano Stand Down for Veterans.
Prior to working at CFILC, Emily worked for an Independent Living Center as an Independent Living Youth Specialist. For the past two years Emily has attended the National Conference on Independent Living in Washington DC. At the conference she spoke with legislators on issues that affect youth with disabilities on a local and national scale.
While attending school Emily worked as a student athletic trainer in the rehab facility located on her college campus. Emily became well-versed in rehabilitation equipment and programs for injured athletes. She also has completed her emergency medical responder certification through Solano Community College. She enjoys learning all aspects of disability, from the physiological understanding to advocacy and organizing.
Emily continues to further her education and would like to finish her degree in Counseling Services. In her spare time Emily loves spending time with her family and puppy; she enjoys being outdoors and also loves to paint.
Teresa Favuzzi Executive Director
Teresa Favuzzi, currently the Executive Director of the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers (CFILC) joined the Disability Rights Movement in 1999. She has worked to:
• Advance diversity and cultural competence of disability organizations to serve un and underserved disability communities with Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco and the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers.
• Increase management skills of disability agency staff teaching national online courses with the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Independent Living Management.
• Encourage emerging leaders with disabilities through her leadership as Co-chair of Youth Leadership Forum for Students with Disabilities steering committee.
• Organize and mobilize the California Disability Communities around issues that impact our lives, including assistive technology, in home support services, healthcare, emergency preparedness, housing, transportation and voting with the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers.
• Promote the importance of the building a Disability Voting Bloc in California with the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers and the National Disability Vote Alliance and the American Association of People with Disabilities.
Teresa Favuzzi, holds an MSW with a concentration in Community Organizing from San Francisco State University, (2000) and has lived with an autoimmune disorder since the age of 5.
Teresa is a recent Alumni of the Sierra Health Foundation Leadership Program. She has served on the Easy Voter Guide Advisory Committee, the Office on Disability and Health Advisory Council, Disability in the Media Advisory Board, the Sacramento Lambda Community Center Board of Directors, and the Resolve to Stop the Violence Advisory Board.
Active in statewide networks for Disability Rights and Queer Rights she is particularly interested in building local and statewide coalitions to work on public policy issues that impact our lives.
Lisa Austin Meeting & Logistics Coordinator
Lisa Austin is the Meeting & Logistics Coordinator and newest member of the CFILC family. In this role she manages logistics for many CFILC events including site selection, contracts with venues and vendors, preparing event orders, managing audio-visual requirements, access compliance for members and onsite management.
Lisa was born in Pittsburgh, PA and moved to Walnut Creek, CA in 1974 where she spent the remainder of her childhood and early adulthood. Lisa attended college at California State University Hayward studying Human Development, specializing in Early Childhood Education. Her passion to have a positive influence and be an advocate for young children, Lisa's professional career started in the childcare industry. She was introduced to the meeting planning profession in 1999. She enjoys the excitement of meeting new people, traveling around the country and using her skills to create and support many successful events. She has previously worked in the non-profit industry with California Peace Officers Association and The California Pharmacists Association.
Growing up, most of Lisa's time was spent competing in sports such as tennis, swimming, soccer and softball. At the collegiate level, she competed in soccer and softball. As a team captain and starting goalkeeper she finished her competitive career by winning the Division II, NCAA Soccer Championship. She enjoys the outdoors, photography, spending time with friends, and traveling. Her biggest joy is spending with her family most importantly her 4 nieces and 3 nephews.
Christina Mills Interim Executive Director
Christina Mills is the Interim Executive Director of the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers and has been an active member of the disability rights community since her involvement in the California Youth Leadership Forum for Students with Disabilities in 1995.
Born in San Diego, California, Christina began her post-secondary education while simultaneously pursing her career in Independent Living. In 1999 she began working for the Independent Living Center of Orange County, the Dayle McIntosh Center. She went on to work for Access 2 Independence in San Diego and served in a number of various positions over the five years she was there.
In 2001 she was appointed by the California Governor to serve on the State Independent Living Council. As a young professional she also served as chair of the National Council on Disability, Youth Advisory Committee and was a Project Consultant for the National Family Voices, Kids as Self Advocates (KASA) program.
In 2006 Christina left San Diego to work for the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers as the Statewide Community Organizer of the Systems Change Network. She has lead the organizing and planning of Disability Capitol Action Day for seven years and is a co-founder CFILC's youth organizing program, Youth Organizing (YO!) Disabled & Proud.
In 2008, she was awarded Regional IX "Advocate of the Year" by the National Council on Independent Living and awarded the California Coalition for Youth Sue Matheson Mentoring Award in 2011.
Christina is a board member of the Disability Rights Education Defense Fund (DREDF) and the ADA Legacy Project.
She is an advocate, an activist, a wife, a mother, a part-time blogger, novice photographer, a serious scrapbooker and proudly identifies as disabled.
Jon Morato Creative Media Director
A Bay Area native, Jon Morato makes his next stop at CFILC as a Creative Media Director. With his experience in design and marketing, he helps bring a real-world identity to an organization that works with real-world people.
Graduated from the Academy of Art University in 2001, Jon went on to enjoy success with a few budding companies in Southern California and Marin County. With his talents and contributions, the companies Jon has worked for enjoyed growth and success many times over it's original state when he first joined their enterprise.
He brings to CFILC a vast array of skills and experience. Not only an accomplished graphic & web designer, Jon also successly ventured in web development, video publishing, marketing, and art direction.
When asked about joining CFILC, the first non-profit organization on his resume, he remarked, "This is an exciting time in my career. For the first time, I have a chance to make an impact that will affect people's lives, not just product, in a positive manner."
In his spare time, Jon enjoys spending time with his wife and three furry babies. And always looking to try new adventures.
Kevin Hansen Device Lending & Reuse Manager
Kevin Hansen is currently working as a Device Lending & Reuse Manager with CFILC. Kevin has worked for CFILC since 2011.
Kevin attended Sacramento State University, Sacramento. After receiving a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from CSUS he worked in retail as a supervisor for 5 years. Kevin enjoys spending time with his wife and family, golfing, camping, hiking and outdoor fun.
Yolanda Vargas Youth Organizer
Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Yolanda has spent much of her youth devoted to educating people on human rights and issues faced by the LGBTQQAAIAP community, of which is she is a proud member. In 2012, Yolanda relocated to Sacramento to focus on her education and make her mark in the non-profit world. Despite being disabled since birth, Yolanda, like many did not know that the disability community existed and only became active through her work as a YO! Volunteer Corps member. She has since embraced her disabilities with much pride and has become an active youth leader both statewide and nationally. Earlier this year, Yolanda was awarded a youth scholarship to participate in the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) Conference. That opportunity led her to becoming a member of both the NCIL Youth and Queer & Women's Caucuses. In addition, Yolanda was also selected to attend and be trained at the ADAPT Youth Community Organizing Summit.
Yolanda is a passionate young woman of color, who looks forward to engaging other youth with disabilities across California to find their disability pride while also building her own leadership skills and increasing her involvement in the intersectional and complex issues that the disability community faces.
Stephen March Financial Lending Specialist
As the Financial Lending Specialist for the FreedomTech loan program, Stephen brings his extensive background in Finance to CFILC. He holds a B.S. in Business Administration with emphasis in Finance from California State University, Sacramento and over 10 years of experience in the mortgage lending industry. For 6 years, Stephen specialized in a government insured loan program designed to help low income seniors stay in their homes and age in place. His passion lies in finding creative solutions that will empower people to live full lives.
Stephen's excited to utilize his experience and education in finance to help people with disabilities purchase assistive technology.
He is currently returning to school to pursue a Masters degree in Social Work. In his free time, Stephen enjoys songwriting, movies, hiking, and spending time with friends, family and his dog Chandler.
Kyla Aquino Irving Communications & Marketing Manager
Kyla Aquino Irving is the Communications & Marketing Manager of the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers (CFILC) and was first introduced to the disability rights community since her involvement in the California Youth Leadership Forum for Students with Disabilities in 1997.
Previously, Kyla worked in health-related nonprofit organizations where she took great joy in developing and leading public relations campaigns for local, regional, and national public health outreach efforts, events, and conferences. She has been a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) since 2012 and was the youngest and first person of color to serve as President of the PRSA California Capital Chapter in 2015.
As a two-time kidney transplant recipient, Kyla has 20 years of experience as a spokesperson for ethnic minority health, disability rights and organ donation awareness. She's passionate about diversity, inclusion and health equity. No stranger to CFILC, Kyla has emceed Disability Capitol Action Day twice.
Born in the Philippines and raised in California, Kyla graduated cum laude from California State University, Sacramento in 2010 with a bachelor's degree in Communication Studies, with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Marketing.
Sacramento Business Journal named Kyla one of the "40 Under 40" in 2015 and Sac Cultural Hub named her one of the "Exceptional Women of Color" in 2016.
Kyla enjoys cooking, dining, traveling, and rooting for the Sacramento Kings with her husband Steve.
Jackie Moura Operations Manager & Bookkeeper
Jackie brings to CFILC over 15 years of office and administrative experience, with the last 10 years primarily focused in accounting. She has worked mostly for larger companies and is very excited to join the non-profit world. She is looking forward to learning more about the history of the disability rights movement, and is also eager to learn more about different types of assistive technology.
After growing up in Santa Rosa, CA Jackie moved to Sacramento to attend California State University, Sacramento, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Sciences. While in college she realized that she liked the Sacramento area so much that she decided to make it her permanent home, and has lived in the region ever since.
Jackie is an avid sports fan, and jokes that she is an Oakland A's fan by birth and a San Francisco Giants fan by marriage. Her hobbies also include reading mystery and legal suspense novels and watching home and garden shows, in the hopes to one day take on a DIY project of some sort. She also enjoys spending time in her backyard and hosting family gatherings.
Jackie and her husband are proud pet parents to Golden Retrievers Sierra and Jade, and Australian Shepherd-English Mastiff mix Max. The dogs bring a lot of fun and joy to the family, although with a lot of fur to contend with on a daily basis!