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.
We have staff across the state committed to providing quality services.
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.
Helena received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology and Marketing Management from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2015 and then graduated from Chadron State with her Master’s degree in Human Services. Helena is now studying for her Society for Human Resource Management certification within the Human Resources field.
Helena started out working with individuals and their families that have developmental disabilities as a medical Case Manager, from there Helena went on to work at DHHS as a Child and Families Services Case Manager. Helena worked with children that have been removed from their homes as an Ongoing Case Manager. Helena then assumed the role of Program Coordinator at West Central Agency on Aging and oversaw the Senior Centers and various programs within the West Central Area, providing training on evidence-based programs. Helena took a break from the non-profit world and went to work at the American Heart Association as a Youth Market Director and worked with Children and Educators across Nebraska on how to remain heart healthy.
Helena also is President of Business and Professional Women in North Platte, which works families to provide scholarships for non-traditional students throughout the North Platte area.
Helena’s describes her skills and strengths as being able to easily connect with people and make them feel comfortable. Helena also believes her strengths lie within training and employee development.
In her spare time Helena enjoys watching reality TV, reading, shopping, and playing with her cat, Jinx. Helena’s favorite thing about working with children and families is knowing that she can make a difference in the lives of the people she works with.
Sarah had a baby boy in November of 2020 and he’s the best thing to ever happen to her. She enjoys spending her time with friends and family, camping, reading, and traveling.
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.
Shyenne began her professional career as an Instructor at Mid Nebraska Individual Services in Kearney. Here she worked with individuals with disabilities to improve a range of health, behavioral, and other daily life skills. She worked there from 2016-2018. From here she began to work as a Family Support Worker at the Family Skills Building. In 2019 she accepted a Care Manager position at West Central Nebraska Agency on Aging. She was a Care Manager for the Family Support program and Care Management program. This role involved arranging in home services, which allow older adults to live as independently as possible. She left this position in 2022 and is now excited to start her new journey at Independence Rising.
In her spare time, Shyenne loves to watch Hallmark movies, read, and attend concerts with her spouse. She was born and raised in Nebraska and is an avid Husker Football fan. She welcomed a baby boy in November of 2022 and has loved becoming a mom and starting her family.
Prior to joining Independence Rising, Katie has worked a variety of jobs that give her great knowledge to bring to the team! Some of Katie’s career highlights include, working at a residential youth facility, dispatching for Columbus Police Department, working for Boys Town at a day school location, and also working for Columbus Public Schools. Katie also has quite a bit of lived experience relating to the human service field that she believes to be a huge asset, as she feels that having the empathy component for consumers is crucial!
Katie is currently working to finish her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, and is extremely proud to say that she has been able to maintain a 4.0 GPA since returning to college in 2020! Working full-time, raising young kids, and going to school is not easy, but Katie believes that it has made her a stronger person; working hard to find a balance for all of her responsibilities and prioritizing. When Katie isn’t working or doing schoolwork, she loves to read, bake, and spend time with her two boys playing outside!
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.”
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.