Staff and Board Members

Staff/ Board of Directors


Von Elison, B.A. M.A

Executive Director

B.A. Psychology, Central Washington University;.

Masters in Public Administration, Seattle University

Thinking of how I have been here since December 1999, and why? This is often a question that I not only pose to myself but that others are constantly asking me. It is not about a revolving door of quick fix problems, it is a passion for what the evolving model of justice and human rights apply to people with disabilities, and ensuring they are educated regarding disability rights. From the time I began, and over the years, I have learned that knowledge is never static and that it is ever changing; that has the most valuable capacity of working with participants, staff, and the Governing Board. That is why I am here; because of it a tree that is constantly changing and growing.





Gretchen Thatcher, B.A, J.D

 Independent Living Specialist,

Gretchen has a political science degree from Central Washington University and a law degree from the University of Utah before deciding that she wanted to help people in a different way. Since 2000, she has been putting her advocacy skills to work on behalf of her CWDR consumers. As an independent living specialist, Gretchen helps people with disabilities become more independent. She often assists people in applying for SSDI or SSI, finding low-income housing, setting up budgets, learning how to find and manage personal assistants, and achieving any other goals they have chosen. Her other specialties include transitioning nursing home residents to community-based living, and teach people how to use the disability accessible voting machine. As a quadriplegic, Gretchen has a first-hand understanding of the challenges that many CWDR participants face. When not at work, she enjoys spending time with her husband.


Mayra Colazo

Community Outreach Coordinator

Independent Living Specialist

Mayra Became a member of the Central Washington Disability Resources team in March 2016 performing various administrative duties and assisting with the office organization. Mayra has now moved to our Community Outreach Coordinator/ Independent Living Specialist. As she is working her way to an HR Degree as an HR Manager for CWDR. She is able to offer many unique skills to, not only CWDR Staff but also our clients. Mayra is not only Bilingual (English/Spanish), she also has outstanding organizational and technical skills. Mayra is a dedicated individual who is always seeking new and improved ways to accomplish each task. Mayra has become a great asset to CWDR allowing us to best better serve our clients and customers. Mayra enjoys spending her free time with her two kids and boyfriend enjoying life and staying busy. To schedule a meeting with her Click this link. 



Dan Witkowski,  B.A

Recreational Manager

Dan started as in intern at CWDR in June 2011, while completing his bachelor’s degree in recreation management. As recreation manager, he is able to use both his educational background and his experiences with outdoor activities in organizing CWDR’s recreational programs, including special events and day trips as well as weekly movies, craft activities, fitness activities, and skill-building educational talks. When not at work Dan enjoys active hobbies like mountain biking, skiing, and skateboarding. As a double amputee from the knees down, Dan says.”When you lose the ability to do those things, you value them much more when you get them back!”


20180118_163903Joshua Hackney, B.A

Youth Transition Coordinator

Joshua Hackney started as an intern with CWDR before taking the Youth Transition Coordinator position in August of 2016. Joshua graduated from Central Washington University in June of 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Recreation Management. Joshua has been an advocate for students for several years, even serving as the president of a student-run organization at CWU advocating for students with disabilities. Also serving as an intern Recreation Coordinator for youth with special needs. Joshua has a vast amount of passion towards working with youth with disabilities. Joshua enjoys spending his free time outdoors enjoying nature.


Board of Directors:

 Fran Cuhtahlatah, President

 Born February 16, 1950, first of 7. In Kansas, Moved to Washington State in 1958 attended several schools in Yakima and graduated in 1968. I moved to Ellensburg in 1972 and other than a couple moves to Yakima and Idaho have been made since I have 2 daughters and 12 grand-kids and 5 great-grandkids. Started in BOD experience with Head Start (Bright Beginnings) in 1973-1974, KCAC BOD from 1973 to 1984. When Von became the Director of CWDR and needed BOD representing she asked if I would consider it I did and I have been here ever since. Representing CIL at Overland Park, Kansas 2010 WA, DC Global NCIL Conference in 2017.


Rick Bily, Vice President

 I am a retired educator. My family (Chris and daughter Errin) and I, moved to Ellensburg from Bonney Lake, Washington in July of 2015. We had 4 children, my daughter, 2 adult boys, and 1 deceased son. My educational history and experiences, of 38 years, range from early childhood education in public schools to adjunct faculty at the university level. I have a degree in art and 2 master degrees: one in elementary education and another in educational administration. I have provided leadership and program management for instructional support programs ( Title I, ELL, Special Education and literacy development) in elementary schools for over 26 years.

Previous to serving on the CWDR board, I served as board president for 7 years on an early childhood intervention program-ASAP in Pierce County. In my eagerness to further serve the community, I became a candidate for the at-large school board position in the Ellensburg school district.

I first became aware of CWDR from a friend of mine, Jerry Freeman over a year ago. I became interested in serving on the CWDR for 2 reasons; I have an adult daughter with multiple disabilities and personally understand the importance of providing support for individuals with disabilities, and I have a desire to give back to the Ellensburg community and organizations that serve vulnerable populations.

Kay Miles, Secretary/Treasurer



Jack Frost, Treasure



I moved to Ellensburg January of 2001. I was in the United States Navy from June of 1964 through October 1968. I have been clean and sober since February 6, 1989. I graduated from Central Washington University in 2007. I have been taught to give back to others and be a part of the solutions to problems and not part of the problem itself.

I am on the following boards and committees: for Kittitas County — Homelessness and Affordable Housing Committee; for Ellensburg — Affordable Housing Advisory Committee (Ad-Hoc); Parks and Recreation Commission; Public Transit Advisory Committee; and the Community Center Committee (Ad-Hoc). I volunteer doing data input at both Habitats for Humanity and the Ellensburg Library. Along with being on this incredible Board of Directors and I am honored to be on the RSVP Advisory Board. I refuse to be idle and truly need to try to help other people.

J. Sandborn, Board Member








Mark Manning, Board Member




Dr. Mark Manning is a retired military officer who served with the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps. He became the Commanding Officer in Desert Storm over the same unit with the Marine Corps that he served in as enlisted during the tail end of Viet Nam. He served over twenty years of honorable service. He has a 70 percent service-connected disability due mostly to the last conflict. Dr. Manning is also a retired federal law enforcement officer where he served guarding our Nations borders. And more recently a retired teacher where he taught in 5 colleges, 3 seminaries, and is a currently certificated school teacher.
Dr. Manning has several college degrees and is currently completing another doctoral degree in Christian Counseling. Prior degrees include an MBA in Managerial Leadership, an MS Ed., and a Bachelors in Science in Occupational Education.
Dr. Manning has an extensive array of experience in counseling. He has pastored over twenty years in various countries and in the United States. He has a heart to help as possible, with those willing to work on their road to recovery and health.
Together, Dr. Manning longs to serve our community “side by side” in bettering lives and our country.