About Independence Rising


ndependence Rising, IR, was formerly known as Center for Independent Living of Central Nebraska. We serve 50 counties in Central and Western Nebraska. We are one of two federally funded independent living centers in Nebraska

Independence Rising’s services are offered free of charge, on a sliding fee scale, and fee for service.  We work with consumers to help them achieve their chosen, community-based living goals.  Consumers of the agency have a disabling condition where more resources are needed in order to achieve their chosen community-based living goals.

Independence Rising serves persons with disabilities across the age span with any type of disabling condition.

young woman with hand on shoulder of a man using crutches


We have staff across the state committed to providing quality services.

Irene BrittExecutive Director
Irene Britt is the current Executive Director for Independence Rising. Irene holds a Master of Arts Degree in Education, with an emphasis in Special Education, from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from UNK with endorsements in Elementary, Early Childhood, and the Elementary/Early Childhood Unified Endorsement.

Irene has worked with Independence Rising, cumulatively, since 2000 and she has been the Executive Director since January 2017. She has worked in various positions in the agency including services coordination, resource developer, and as a Program Manager/Supervisor for the DHHS contract for services coordination of the Aged and Disabled Medicaid Waiver. During this time, she oversaw the Waiver program and staff in Independence Rising offices located in Grand Island, Lexington, Ogallala, and Broken Bow. In 2011, Irene assumed the position of Program Manager for Independence Rising’s independent living program which included, at a minimum, working with consumers and involvement in community groups throughout the 39 county territory. Irene is also a certified driving instructor and has conducted driving evaluations and lessons for consumers of the agency. Throughout her career, Irene has also worked as an Associate Public Guardian for the Nebraska Office of Public Guardian, provided family support services for families working with Child Protective Services, as well as worked as a teacher in various public and private school classrooms including as an elementary
and early-childhood educator and substitute teacher.

Irene has been a volunteer for different groups. She has been a CASA volunteer for Lincoln County CASA, a Board Member for L2ForKids for the North Platte Chapter, a Vacation Bible School Director, and a Girl Scout Service Unit Manager and a Girl Scout Leader. Irene is the fifth generation of her family to live on her family’s ranch in southwest Nebraska. She enjoys reading, taking college courses as she works towards getting her counseling endorsement, spending time with her children and pets, creating artwork, meditation, music, and running.

Mary Stockwell
Mary StockwellProgram Manager
Mary Stockwell is the Program Manager in the Gering Independence Rising office. Mary attended the University of Nebraska and has over 25 years of experience in human services. Mary worked in a critical access hospital in south-central Nebraska for 13 years as Social Services Director and discharge planner. Discharge planning was a good fit for Mary as it was satisfying to see patients make a smooth transition home. Mary relocated to the panhandle and worked for 8 years as a Developmental Disabilities Service Coordinator. Mary worked in child and adult protection for 5 years in Wyoming. Mary has spent her career working with the most vulnerable populations of elderly and disabled individuals; and children. Mary is an avid reader, cook, Husker fan and aspiring vegetable gardener. Mary lives with her husband and two dogs. Mary has two adult children and two grandchildren. Mary is a native Nebraskan and finds great value in living in the Nebraska Panhandle.
Vicki Anson
Vicki AnsonProgram Manager
Vicki Anson works as the Program Manager for Independence Rising in Grand Island, Nebraska. Vicki has worked with IR for 4 years. Vicki has a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural and Social Sciences from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and is a Certified Social Worker in the state of Nebraska. Vicki supervises the Family Support Program, IAH Program and Grand Island office. Vicki works extensively with parents with disabilities that are involved with Child and Protective Services. Vicki co-chairs the NCIL Parenting Task Force.
Vicki was born and raised in Nebraska. Vicki enjoys spending time with her 2 dogs, Rocco and Ginger, her family, attending great nephews and great nieces sporting events and is an avid Husker fan.
Shelisa Brooks
Shelisa BrooksCoordination Specialist/Functional Family Facilitator
Shelisa Brooks is currently our Coordination Specialist and has been with us for almost two years. Shelisa attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Family Studies and a minor in Social Work. She has taken many courses that have prepared her in her line of work. These courses would include Mental Health and First Aid Training as well as Trauma 101 and Recovery Training. Shelisa has previously worked as a childcare provider, where she learned to care for children of all ages, create activities for children, and teach proper skills needed for each age group. Shelisa has had experience working as a security guard as well, where she escorted high profile performers, enforced local and state laws, and executed crowd control.
Amanda Pearson
Amanda PearsonCentral Nebraska Lifespan Respite Coordinator/Central billing Coordinator
Amanda joined Independence Rising September 2019. She is our Central Billing Coordinator, as well as, the Central Nebraska Lifespan Respite Coordinator. Amanda oversees IR’s operations in the Kearney office location. Her professional experience includes working as a family peer support specialist, accounting, and she currently works part time in the evenings and weekends as a Crisis Counselor for the Nebraska Strong Project. She currently volunteers on the Central Nebraska LOSS team and assists with planning community activities. Amanda’s educational background is in business administration and accounting. She is currently working towards her undergraduate in Psychology. Amanda is trained in motivational interviewing, trauma grief and loss, QPR, stress first aid for firefighters and emergency medical services personnel, stages of change, child abuse and neglect, and many other areas. She is currently certified as an Advanced Level III WRAP Facilitator, a public speaker through NAMI New Hampshire, and holds state and national certifications in peer support.
Helena BeyerPrograms Quality Coordinator/Human Resource

Functional Family Facilitators

“Providing facilitation and support for families in transition, with an emphasis on the needs and value of each family member, in order for families to meet their unique community living goals.”

two women help a young boy in wheelchair stroll through an outdoor mall

Are you Dedicated, Hardworking, and Enjoy Helping Others Reach Their Goals? Join Us!

We are currently hiring for Functional Family Facilitator.  Please fill out our application through the link below.


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