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Our Staff

Meet the ILRC Family. Our services are spread across four offices located in Santa Barbara County, San Luis Obispo County, and Ventura County. The information for all four offices are below.

ILRC Offices

Santa Barbara

423 W. Victoria Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

(805) 963-0595 Voice/Text (TTY)
(805) 963-1350 Fax
(805) 284-9051 Video Phone

San Luis Obispo

51 Zaca Lane #140
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

(805) 462-1162 Voice/Text (TTY)
(805) 752-1261 Fax
(805) 464-3203 Video Phone

Santa Maria

218 W Carmen Lane #109
Santa Maria, CA 93458

(805) 925-0015 Voice/Text (TTY)
(805) 332-3213 Fax
(805) 354-5948 Video Phone


702 County Square Drive #105
Ventura, CA 93003

(805) 650-5993 Voice/Text (TTY)
(805) 650-9278 Fax
(805) 256-1036 Video Phone

Meet Our Staff

(Click each staff member's photo to read their bio.)

Michelle Ward Transition Advocate

Photo of Michelle Ward.

Michelle Ward

Based in Santa Barbara office serving Santa Barbara County

My name is Michelle Ward and I’m the Transition Advocate in Santa Barbara. With a background in homelessness, housing solutions, and crisis intervention/diversion, I was drawn to ILRC because of the level of commitment to consumers and employees alike. Having advocated for myself and my daughter around our own disabilities, I feel that this is important work. I love helping and empowering people with disabilities to advocate for themselves. A fun fact about me is that I am a lover of the band Pearl Jam and have seen them live 33 times.

Paige Masson Transition Advocate

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Paige Masson

Based in the San Luis Obispo office serving San Luis Obispo County.

Starting at ILRC in 2021, my position within the organization is a blessing. I enjoy the sense of community and compassion between our staff and the consumers. Having to navigate this year and the isolation, I've quickly learned that companionship is one step closer to happiness. My goal for 2021 is to establish more connections with other humans (and dogs), all while learning to appreciate my ever-growing independence. After many limitations over the last year, I look forward to following my arrow of happiness in all aspects of my life, especially here at ILRC!

Alexa Martin Program Director

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Alexa Martin

Based in the Ventura office serving all counties.

I started working for ILRC in 2017. For me, the best part of working at ILRC is I have always been passionate about advocating for underrepresented communities and I get to do that each day here! During quarantine I started baking, started my first garden and spent a lot of time camping and hiking. My goal for 2021 is all about growth-mentally, physically, and organizationally!

Taylor Testorff Community Living Advocate

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Taylor Testorff

Based in the Ventura office serving Ventura County.

I started working at ILRC in November 2022 and I am very excited about being a part of an organization that is so passionate about helping others in our community. Advocating is one of the key foundations for ILRC and is a strong passion for me, which helped propel me enter this line of work. I am excited to learn and grow within ILRC and to advocate for others. In my free time, I enjoy swimming, hiking, going to the beach, traveling and relaxing with my two cats. I am also working on my degree in Forensic Psychology.

Nicole Janikowski Independent Living Advocate

Photo of Nicole Janikowski.

Nicole Janikowski

Based in the Santa Maria office serving North Santa Barbara County.

Nicole started working at ILRC in 2015. Her favorite color is burgundy. For her, the best part of working at ILRC is that she discovered her passion to help her community. When she was in need of services and peer support she was unable to find someone in her area that would work with her to get back on her feet. Her love is working with consumers hoping to build satisfaction and become self-sufficient. Her favorite independent living advocate is Natasha Jade Devon.

Nicole Fernandez-Pinedo Blind/Low Vision Coordinator

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Nicole Fernandez-Pinedo

Based in the Santa Barbara office serving all counties.

I was drawn to work for ILRC because I believe connecting people to appropriate resources, advocating, and promoting independent living is extremely important. The support the ILRC provides for its consumers is the type of support that I have always believed is vital for individuals with disabilities. I feel very fortunate to be a part of a team that is very passionate about the work they do for this community. Working for ILRC has impacted my life by allowing me to know that the work we do here will make a difference and a positive impact for those that we help. In my free time I enjoy reading books, spending time with my loved ones and exploring places of nature.

Barbara Rangel Administrative Manager

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Barbara Rangel

Based in the Santa Barbara office.

I began working at ILRC in October 2022 and it has already been amazing. ILRC's dedication to achieving equality for all is what makes working here so great. I cannot wait to see how we continue to grow our resources and out reach. A fun fact about me is that I am a retired basketball player.

Rosie Florido Bookkeeper

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Rosie Florido

  • Bookkeeper

Jerry Mihaic Information & Referral Specialist - Bilingual

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Jerry Mihaic

Based in San Luis Obispo office serving San Luis Obispo County.

I first began working at ILRC in 2009, then I came back for more in 2017. The work ILRC does is important to me because I believe in social justice and taking care of vulnerable populations and marginalized groups-- ILRC provides that opportunity. I feel a very close connection with the community in San Luis Obispo and am involved with various groups such as The Latino Outreach Council, Adult Services Policy Council, and GALA Pride and Diversity Center. I also try to encourage and coach people, especially the elderly, to embrace and use technology and the Internet to their full benefit.

Vanessa Kaelyn Acain Community Living Advocate

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Vanessa Kaelyn Acain

Based in the Ventura office serving Ventura County.

I became a part of the ILRC family in November of 2021. I love being a part of an organization that shares my passion for social justice and plays a hands-on role in creating a more inclusive and diverse community! During the pandemic, I learned how to crochet, rediscovered my passion for reading, and spent quality time with my family. This year I would love to bake and travel (especially to visit friends in New York and Europe!)

Petra Lowen Community Living Advocate

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Petra Lowen

Based in the Santa Barbara office serving South Santa Barbara County.

I started at the ILRC in 1983 (the first time, until 1991), then the second time in 2000. The work at the ILRC is extremely important to me because navigating housing issues is difficult and many consumers need our assistance and expertise, some more than others. Advocacy is also an important part of our work. I estimate that in the years that I have worked at the ILRC I have assisted at least 2,500 consumers, maybe more. I have touched many lives. I did not start any new hobbies in 2020 but I have read much more than before and went for more walks. My goals for 2021 are: first of all not to get infected by COVID-19 and to get vaccinated as soon as I am eligible. As restrictions are loosened (or lifted): see consumers in the office again because person-to-person interaction is very important. Then connect with landlords and rental management companies. If the City Housing Authority opens the tenant-based section 8 waiting list (as they indicated) sign up all current and past consumers on that waiting list.

Jennifer Griffin Executive Director

Photo of Jennifer Griffin.

Jennifer Griffin

Based in the Santa Barbara office.

I started working at ILRC in 2000. ILRC's work is important to me because I love that we empower and support people with disabilities to live the life they choose to live. I also adore my co-workers. All good people with big hearts. During quarantine, I became a semi-professional home organizer. I binge-watched Marie Condo and Home Edit until I could no longer contain the inner OCD organizer inside me. Since discarding all items that no longer spark joy for me, color-coded my closets, and sorted through over 100,000 photographs I have helped several other friends (not at their request) declutter their homes. My goal for 2021 is to continue to grow professionally and personally. Make more time for myself and my family and hopefully go on a trip somewhere this year?

Paola Reyes Community Living Advocate

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Paola Reyes

Based in San Luis Obispo office serving San Luis Obispo County

I started working for ILRC in December 2021. What I love about the organization is that it provides a variety of free resources for people with any disability. Allowing them to live a more independent life. My overall goal for this year is to focus on myself and my overall health.

Jacob Lesner-Buxton System Change Coordinator

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Jacob Lesner-Buxton

Based in the Santa Barbara office serving all counties.

I started working at ILRC in 2013. Working here has given me the confidence and sense of empowerment to make change and hopefully encourage others to do so. During quarantine, I learned how to engage with yoga classes over zoom. My goal for 2021 is to work up the courage to ride Splash Mountain and Space Mountain at Disneyland. I am not a big fan of thrill rides, but I have been watching some YouTube clips on the rides and think they might be fun to try!

Carol Baizer Community Living Advocate/Benefits

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Carol Baizer

Based in the Santa Barbara office serving all counties.

Carol started working at ILRC in 1997. Her favorite color is blue. For her, the best part of working at ILRC is being a part of an organization that provides a different window to the world. Her favorite independent living advocate is Marta Russell.

Brandon Smith Emergency Preparedness Services Manager

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Brandon Smith

Based in Santa Maria serving all counties.

My name is Brandon Smith and I am the new Emergency Preparedness Services Manager for ILRC. It is my goal that any and all consumers whom I come into contact with will walk away with a plan of action for any emergency or disaster. This passion has been driven by three years of working in the disabilities and human services field, as well as a bachelor’s of science in Homeland Security/Emergency Management from National University. I love this work because I can continue to serve the population that has grown so close to my heart and apply my training and skillset for their benefit! Bonus: I love being outdoors! I go fishing and camping a couple times each year. I also very much enjoy reading and taking in books. I am currently reading two books on theology and going through the Chronicles of Narnia with my daughters!

Emily Bridges Focused Population Case Manager

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Emily Bridges

Based in the Ventura Office serving Ventura County.

I enjoy working at ILRC because of the opportunities to engage with compassionate coworkers to help our communities. Working at ILRC has impacted my life by helping me build valuable relationships and become more understanding of others. A fun fact is that I have met seven actors at pop-culture conventions (like Comic-Con)over the past several years.

Rosa Lopez Community Information Coordinator

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Rosa Lopez

Based in the Santa Barbara office serving Santa Barbara County.

I began working for ILRC back in 2005. The work ILRC does is important to me because ILRC helps everyone when they feel no one is there for them and it feels rewarding. During quarantine, I tried cooking different meals and read more. My goal for 2021 is to get healthier physically, and mentally.

Jennifer Martinez Information & Referral Specialist - Bilingual

Photo of Jennifer Martinez.

Jennifer Martinez

Based in the Ventura office serving Ventura County.

I have been with ILRC, Inc. for over a decade. I enjoy working at ILRC, Inc. because the leadership and staff all share the common goal of helping people as best as possible. It really does take a village and I am happy to be a part of it. Thanks to working at ILRC, Inc., I have gained knowledge about available resources which is helpful to share with our consumers and has made a positive impact on individuals in my personal life as well. One fun fact about me is that I like to ride my bicycle through puddles and run in the rain, whenever I can.

Kayla Young Disability Sexual Assault Coordinator

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Kayla Young

Based in Santa Barbara serving all counties.

I began my exciting journey with ILRC in October of 2021. I am thrilled to join the ILRC team because of the wide variety of services, education, and advocacy offered for independent living resources in the community. Specifically, I am looking forward to providing specific resources to disabled consumers who are seeking support with sexual violence or trauma. During the pandemic, I grew my plant collection which helped with essential daily self care. A goal I have set for this next year is to try surfing for the first time.

Brittany Pudnos Independent Living Advocate-Deaf

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Brittany Pudnos

Based in the Ventura office serving all counties.

I started at ILRC in June 2022. I feel fortunate to be working in a place where I can use my passion for ASL and Deaf culture toward a career I never imagined I could have. The mission of ILRC is so important to me because it allows me to fully embrace who I am as an adult with ADHD. My whole life I have been learning how to advocate and make accommodations for myself. I want to help others see that just because you take different steps to achieve your goals doesn't make you or your goals any less valuable. In my spare time, I love to hang out with my two dogs Daisy and Doug. This year I am looking forward to going to concerts again.