Sharing Information Loud and Clear

Fall 2023

In This Issue:

  • Message from the Chairperson
  • Save the Date!
  • Youth Leadership Forum for Students with Disabilities (YLF)
  • October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)
  • SILC Member Anisa Escobedo
  • SILC 3rd Annual Pumpkin Decorating Contest!
  • Celebrate Dia de los Muertos with the SILC November 1-8
  • Remember to Vote this November!
  • Advocacy vs Lobbying
  • SILC Office Closure (Veterans Day)
  • November is National Native American Heritage Month

photo description: Woman reading Braille, wheelchair user on beach facing away from camera with arms raised triumphantly, and two smiling women posing for photo

Message From The Chair

Photo description: Ligia Andrade-Zuniga, SILC Chairperson,

Bienvenidos (Welcome) Independent Living (IL) Network Partners!

As autumn sets in creating change to foster new beginnings, I welcome you all as the newly appointed Chairperson of the California SILC. The fall season brings a time for us to pause, reflect, and grow in positive change. It brings us an abundance of opportunities to get together, lift up our communities, and thrive!

As we move forward in this season filled with opportunities for growth and transformation, I am reminded of the collective strength and resilience that our organization embodies. The changes we have faced and overcome together have only strengthened our resolve and fortified our unity. As we move forward in these autumn months, I am eager to witness the continued growth and progress that we will achieve as a united force.

In the spirit of autumn, let’s pause, reflect, and work through any lingering doubts or hesitation to harness the energy of the season moving ahead. It is the point that we cultivate new ideas, and work collaboratively through our shared goals.

Our SILC has always been a source of support and encouragement for our members, and that will definitely continue. We have an exciting lineup of events, projects, and initiatives planned that will not only enhance our skills and knowledge, but will also strengthen the bonds of our community. Keep a lookout for our Pumpkin Decorating Contest, SPIL development activities, and try to join us for our full virtual Council meeting in December.

I encourage each and every one of you to participate, contribute your experience. Reach out to us. Share your insights. All of the will make our work together, memorable and successful. Together we can create necessary change to leave a lasting impact for our community.

Thank you for being an integral part of the SILC and for your unwavering dedication to independent living in California. Adelante to progress, collaboration, and unity!

If you have questions or comments, the SILC is here for you. Feel free to reach out to us at or by contacting the SILC Executive Director, Carrie England, at

In Unity and Solidarity,

Ligia Andrade Zuniga, SILC Chairperson

Save the Date!

Photo Description: SILC Logo. Reads “State Independent Living Council SILC California”

As 2023 comes to an end, we are planning our full council meetings and key dates for the next year. Please save the following dates/times in your calendar for 2024 so that you don’t miss any! All meeting agendas and materials will be posted to our website at least 10 days in advance of the meeting.

  • December 5-6, 2023 SILC Full Council Meeting (all virtual using Zoom)
  • March 5-6, 2024 SILC Full Council Meeting in Sacramento, CA (in person/hybrid using Zoom)
  • March 7, 2024 SILC Legislative Visits (by appointment)
  • April 2, 2024 SPIL Hearings (in person/hybrid) location TBD (Bay Area)
  • April 5, 2024 SPIL Hearings (in person/hybrid) location TBD (Southern California)
  • June 5-6, 2024 SILC Full Council Meeting (all virtual using Zoom)
  • June 30, 2024 2025-2027 SPIL Due to the Administration on Community Living (ACL)
  • July 14-20, 2024 Youth Leadership Forum
  • September 17-18, 2024 SILC Full Council Meeting in Southern CA (in person/hybrid using Zoom)
  • December 10-11, 2024 SILC Full Council Meeting (all virtual using Zoom)

Youth Leadership Forum for Students with Disabilities (YLF)

Photo description: YLF delegates, staff and volunteers gathered on the assembly floor in July 2023.

During the 2023 Youth Leadership Forum for Students with Disabilities (YLF), 31 high school students and recent graduates attended both online and in-person sessions to learn Leadership, Self-Advocacy, and Independent Living Skills from mentors in the Disability Community. Delegates also got to stay at and tour the California State University Sacramento (CSUS) Campus, visit the California State Capitol Building, and attend a mentoring luncheon.

SILC Member Eric Harris presented to delegates on Community Participation and Legislative Advocacy and SILC Office Manager Danielle Hess worked on planning workgroups and on-site logistics. Thank you to all our partners in the Independent Living Network for their continued support of YLF!

The California Youth Leadership Forum for Students with Disabilities (YLF) is recruiting student delegates for YLF 2024!

  • What is YLF? Six-day residential program that helps delegates become advocates and leaders in their communities by developing pride in their disability, confidence in their skills, and knowledge of how to discover resources for college, careers, and independent living.
  • When is YLF? July 14-20, 2024, in-person at California State University, Sacramento
  • Who is YLF For? Students who are Sophomores, Juniors, or Seniors during the 2023-2024 School year, have any type of disability, and exhibit leadership potential.
  • Cost: Free! All expenses are free for the selected delegates to attend.
  • How to Apply: Complete an online application – YLF 2024 Online Application
  • Deadline to Apply: Friday, December 1, 2023

Watch our promotional video featuring an original rap written and performed by a YLF 2023 alumni: California YLF Promotional Video

Hear from past delegates about how YLF changed their lives: California YLF Delegate Testimonials

Additional information can be found at share with your networks for distribution as well as to all eligible students.

For additional questions, please send an email to or call the California Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities office at 855-894-3436.

US Department of Labor announces 2023 themes to promote importance of advancing disability employment, and to honor landmark anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

To mark two significant events in 2023 for people with disabilities, the U.S. Department of Labor today announced its Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has selected themes to promote National Disability Employment Awareness Month and honor the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

ODEP has chosen “Advancing Access and Equity” as its theme for National Disability Employment Awareness Month in 2023. Observed each October, NDEAM celebrates the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities past and present and showcases supportive, inclusive policies and practices that benefit employees and employers alike.

Each year, the agency chooses an NDEAM theme for use by organizations around the nation to recognize the importance of ensuring people with disabilities have equal opportunity to prepare for and succeed in employment.

Similarly, ODEP will use “Advancing Access and Equity: Then, Now and Next” to celebrate the passage of the Rehabilitation Act a half-century ago and its importance in prohibiting discrimination based on disability in employment by federal agencies, federal contractors and recipients of federal funds, and in the delivery of federally funded programs and activities. ODEP will use the theme to promote activities to mark passage of the act, the first federal legislation to address access and equity for people with disabilities.

“National Disability Employment Awareness Month reminds us of the valued contributions people with disabilities make in our nation’s workplaces, and the 50th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 marks a major milestone in our nation’s ongoing quest to advance access and equity for all Americans,” said Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy Taryn M. Williams. “So, from now through October, we will be exploring the act’s impact on everything from employment to community living to non-discrimination to accessible technology.”

The Rehabilitation Act laid the foundation upon which the more comprehensive Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 now stands. These laws continue to be vital tools used to advance access and equity for workers from historically underserved communities and meet the goals in the department’s Equity Action Plan.

Learn more about ODEP and NDEAM, including how different organizations can participate.

Meet Anisa Escobedo, Candidate for Riverside City Council Ward 3

Photo description: Anisa Escobedo, smiling, short dark hair, wearing glasses and a grey shirt.

Candidate Statement:

“My story is one of triumph over tragedy. In my early life, my birth mother was addicted to drugs while pregnant with me. This led to my premature birth in a toilet, and I was even pronounced dead. Thankfully, paramedics were able to revive me but doctors stated that I would never be able to walk, talk, or even function normally. I was born with heroin, alcohol and had cocaine in my system. Born 5 months premature, I weighed only two pounds.

As a consequence of the trauma I endured in my development and the brain damage it caused, I was diagnosed with the following disabilities: auditory processing disorder, and mild Asperger. At just two years of age, my birth mother passed away, and with no other family to care for me, I entered the foster care system.

Still, I am one of the very lucky ones. I was placed with a family that took me in as their own and made the commitment to raise me. My new mother gave me perhaps the greatest gift of all: hope. My new mother’s determination to beat all the odds eventually became mine.

Today, at 33 years old, I own a successful business, Escobedo Design, which I established in 2016 in Riverside and now is located in the City of Corona. I wear my story as a badge of honor, and strive to offer my community the same level of determination and grit with which I lead my life.

Being a person with disabilities, transgender female, experienced homelessness, and building a successful company from the ground up. It is my hope that I will be able to work with the city to shape policy, address critical issues, and offer personal insight into some of the city’s greatest challenges.

In my opinion, representation in government should matter in all forms, and public service should not be restricted by income.”

Contact Information:



SILC 3rd Annual Pumpkin Decorating Contest!

Photo Description: Jack-o-lanterns with candy strewn around the base.

The last few years the SILC has had a lot of fun with our Halloween Pumpkin decorating contest. We received many entries via our SILC Facebook page from very talented consumers and staff at the Independent Living Centers. We had so much fun, we’ve decided to do it again!

Show off your Halloween spirit this year and participate in our virtual D.I.Y. (do-it-yourself) pumpkin decorating contest. We want you to get creative carving or otherwise decorating your pumpkins using items you already have around the house. You can use cardboard, newspaper, glue, tape, yarn, foil, paper bags, felt or fabric, markers, other vegetables, or anything else you already have on hand. Your imagination is your only limitation.

Winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card!!!

How to submit:

  • Take a photo of your pumpkin. Email your submission to
  • Subject: Halloween Pumpkin Contest
  • Please include your name, an image description of your pumpkin, and contact information (where can we send the gift card if you win?)
  • Deadline to submit is Friday, October 27, 2023 by 5pm.



  • Handmade/D.I.Y. pumpkins only (nothing premade directly from the store or professionally created please).
  • Designs must be family-friendly, inoffensive, and appropriate for all ages.
  • 1 entry per person.
  • Participants agree to allow pumpkin pictures to be featured on the SILC social media and website. Participants agree that if they are chosen to be the winner, their name will be announced publicly on Facebook.
  • Winner must be a California resident.
  • Open to people of all ages.
  • Consumers, staff and board members of all IL organizations in California are encouraged to participate.


Selection Process & Prize:

  • Photos will be on social media (Facebook) for community judging. The photo with the most “likes” will win. Photos will be posted on the SILC Facebook page beginning Monday, October 28.
  • “Votes” (in the form of Facebook “likes”) will be tallied and the winner will be announced on Facebook on October 31, 2022 at 1pm. (“likes” received after 12:59 am will not be included in the tally) Encourage your friends and family to vote!
  • The winning pumpkin will receive a $25 Amazon gift card!

Questions? Email


Celebrate Dia de los Muertos with SILC:

A Virtual Space for Sharing and Commemoration

November 1-November 8

Photo: Woman wearing face makeup and flowers in a vibrant colorful display. Painting one’s face to resemble a skull is perhaps the most common tradition because it symbolizes the eternal cycle of life – from birth to death, and then re-birth.

The Day of the Dead, known as “Día de los Muertos” in Spanish, is a vibrant and heartfelt celebration observed in many Latin American countries and communities around the world. It is a time to honor and remember loved ones who have passed away, celebrating their lives and the impact they had on us. The tradition is deeply rooted in culture, family, and love, symbolized by colorful altars, marigolds, sugar skulls, and the aroma of traditional foods.

In line with the spirit of this beautiful tradition, the California State Independent Living Council (SILC) is thrilled to announce a virtual space for people to come together and share their memories, stories, and experiences in honor of the Day of the Dead. The virtual event will provide a platform for individuals from diverse backgrounds to celebrate and commemorate their loved ones, fostering a sense of community and understanding of this meaningful cultural observance.

The virtual space curated by SILC will offer participants a chance to share personal narratives, photos, and cherished memories of their dearly departed. It is an opportunity to unite people from different parts of the world, transcending geographical boundaries and fostering connections through shared experiences.

Moreover, the event aims to educate and promote cultural understanding, allowing individuals to gain insight into the customs and traditions associated with the Day of the Dead. Through this virtual gathering, SILC aspires to create a space where individuals can appreciate and learn from each other’s diverse cultural backgrounds.

In a time where physical gatherings may be limited or restricted, this virtual space provides a valuable means to continue cherished traditions and maintain a sense of togetherness. SILC encourages everyone, regardless of their cultural background, to participate in this event, fostering empathy, understanding, and unity among the global community.

Join us at the SILC virtual space on our Facebook Page to celebrate the Day of the Dead, honor the memories of our loved ones, and embrace the beauty of cultural diversity. Let us come together and create a tapestry of remembrance and understanding that transcends borders and unites us all in the spirit of love and commemoration.

Remember to Vote this November!

Photo description: Hands of people of a variety of colors (brown, black and white) holding letters that read “Remember to VOTE” in white text on blue background.

  • The last day to register to vote for the March 5, 2024, Presidential Primary Election is February 20, 2024.
  • All California active registered voters will receive a vote-by-mail ballot for the March 5, 2024, Presidential Primary Election.
  • Your county elections office will begin mailing ballots by February 5, 2024.
  • Ballot drop-off locations open on February 6, 2024.
  • Vote-by-mail ballots can be returned by mail, at a drop-off location, or your county elections office.
  • Vote centers open for early in-person voting in all Voter’s Choice Act counties beginning on February 24, 2024.
  • Vote-by-mail ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by March 12, 2024.

For more information on the candidates, or for frequently asked questions about voting accessibility or deadlines, visit the Secretary of State page.

Is it advocacy, or lobbying? What’s the difference?

Photo Description: Yellow circle with the word Lobbying inside a green circle with the word Advocacy.

Our mission statement here at the State Independent Living Council (SILC) is to create policy and systems change for independent living. One of the ways that SILC members can support this mission statement is by advocating against the discrimination and injustice of people with disabilities. SILC members while acting on behalf of the SILC, in their official capacity, can advocate but cannot lobby. This article will outline the differences between advocacy and lobbying and how SILC members can help ensure that people with disabilities have equal opportunities for full participation and inclusion in all aspects of society.

You may have heard that all lobbying is advocacy, but not all advocacy is lobbying. Advocacy is defined as the act of engaging with a government (elected or non-elected) official to educate and provide technical, factual, and non-partisan information about a particular goal, program, interest, or population. Anyone can participate in advocacy either in an individual capacity or through an organization. A SILC member meeting with a government official to provide information and education about the SILC is an example advocacy. Additionally, SILC members are allowed to educate government officials about the impact a piece of legislation would have on a program or population (e.g. the disability and independent living community) so long as the information is technical, factual, and non-partisan.

Alternatively, lobbying is any verbal or written communication with a government official with the intent to influence funding or a particular position on a issue, piece of legislation, or potential appointment. Essentially, lobbying consists of four parts: a (1) communication with a (2) government official with the (3) intent to influence funding or a particular position on (4) a specific issue, piece of legislation, or potential appointment.

There are two types of lobbying: direct lobbying and grassroots lobbying. Direct lobbying is a communication with a government official that is intended to influence their viewpoint on a specific issue, piece of legislation, or potential appointment. Alternatively, grassroots lobbying (also known as indirect lobbying) includes efforts that encourage members of the public to contact their local, state, or federal elected officials to take action on a specific issue or piece of legislation. Examples of grassroots lobbying include creating an online petition, distributing fliers, or organizing a public demonstration or rally to generate public support for a cause.

The main difference between lobbying and advocacy is that lobbying indicates an opinion about specific legislative change (e.g. particular changes to specific laws). Advocacy educates and informs a government officials on issues while lobbying is meant to influence an official’s opinion in a particular way for a specific purpose. Anyone can advocate and the SILC encourages its members to advocate on behalf of the independent living community.

Although lobbying is always allowed as a private citizen, it is not allowed while acting on behalf of the SILC. This is because the SILC is a state agency that is primarily funded by federal funds. Therefore, SILC members and staff are not allowed to use federal funding to lobby federal, state, or local officials or their staff to receive any additional funding or influence legislation. This means while acting on behalf of the SILC, its members cannot state a specific viewpoint on any legislation, ask a government official to take any specific action in regard to legislation, or request that the government official allocate more funding to support the SILC or any program as these are all examples of lobbying. Additionally, SILC staff cannot direct SILC members to contact their legislators or government agencies regarding a particular piece of legislation as this qualifies as direct lobbying. If a SILC member or SILC staff engages in lobbying while acting in their official capacity, the Administration for Community Living may take enforcement actions that can include withholding cash payments, disallowance, including interest, of unallowable expenses that include the total direct and indirect costs, and/or termination of the award.

Remember, advocacy is always a permissible use of federal funding. SILC members and staff are allowed to educate and provide technical, factual, and non-partisan information about relevant issues to government officials. Advocacy can help bring awareness to important issues while impacting policy to bring about social change. The differences between advocacy and lobbying can seem daunting and complicated which is why SILC staff is always available to help SILC members determine whether something classifies as lobbying or advocacy and if it is allowed while acting on behalf of the SILC.

Below are some helpful examples of the differences between advocacy and lobbying activities that you may encounter as a SILC member.

Examples of Advocacy (YES!)

Meeting with a government official to provide information on how a current policy affects the disability and independent living community. 

Meeting with a government official to educate them about the SILC’s role in determining the allocation of federal funds for independent living.

Preparing educational materials that depict success stories from one of the twenty-eight Independent Living Centers (ILCs) in California.

Inviting legislators to visit one of the ILCs in California to illustrate how funding is used to support the independent living community. 

Providing objective and nonpartisan data, technical assistance, or educational testimony to a legislative body or committee in response to a written request.

Posting on social media statistics about the independent living community and information of how the SPIL supports independent living services in California.

Sending a weekly e-newsletter discussing factual, nonpartisan information on how independent living centers support individuals with disabilities in California and outlining how SPIL funding supports the services and activities of ILCs.

Updating SILC Members and the public on the status of legislation that has the potential to impact the SILC and the independent living community without a call to action.

Examples of Lobbying (NO!)

Asking a government official to introduce, amend, or vote in a certain way regarding a piece of legislation that would impact the disability and independent living community.

Urging a government official to vote for a specific bill that would provide funding for the SILC and independent living services.

Preparing materials that include information on specific funding requests necessary to sustain ILCs and/or contain messaging for or against specific legislation.

Inviting legislators to visit one of the ILCs in California to persuade them to support specific legislation.  

Developing and disseminating data designed to convince an individual legislator to oppose or support a particular bill.

Posting on social media a message urging members of the Legislature and/or Congress to vote against cuts to state and federal funded grants that fund for independent living services.

E-mailing a “call to action” to SILC members, stakeholders, or the public encouraging encourage them to contact their legislator in favor of legislation that would support or fund the independent living services.

Urging SILC Members and the public to contact their legislators in support of action on introduced legislation or pending regulations.

Do you still have questions? Contact the SILC Legislative Specialist Allison Viramontes-Nahn at for assistance. 

Notice of SILC Office Closure (Veterans Day)

Photo: Dark blue background with white text reading “Veterans Day Honoring All Who Served” along with stylized American flag and 3 stars.

Veterans Day is on Saturday, November 11, 2023. When Veterans Day falls on a Saturday then either Saturday or the preceding Friday may be designated as the holiday. In observance of this holiday, the SILC office will be closed on Friday, November 10, 2023.

Veterans Day is a time for us to pay our respects to those who have served in the United States Military. Honoring veterans can come in many forms. Fly an American flag in front of your home, wear a red poppy or have a moment of silence and reflection. Anything you can do to pay your respects is a meaningful way to observe Veterans Day.

November is National Native American Heritage Month

Photo: Native Americans from Southeastern Idaho shows 2 children and 1 adult dressed in traditional clothing.

November is National American Indian Heritage Month.

During Native American Indian Heritage Month, we recognize and celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and contributions of Native American communities. It’s essential to acknowledge that within these communities, there are individuals with disabilities who have unique stories that deserve attention and respect.

People with disabilities from Native American backgrounds have historically faced intersecting challenges due to societal biases and limited accessibility. Despite these obstacles, they have demonstrated incredible resilience, contributing significantly to their communities and beyond. Their experiences offer a nuanced perspective on the intersection of culture, heritage, and disability.

This month provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the diverse narratives of Native Americans with disabilities, shedding light on their accomplishments, struggles, and ongoing efforts towards equity and inclusion. By highlighting these stories, we honor the strength of individuals who have navigated barriers while upholding their cultural identity.

Let us use this month as a chance not only to celebrate the vibrant tapestry of Native American heritage but also to amplify the voices and experiences of people with disabilities within these communities. By doing so, we promote a more inclusive and empathetic society that recognizes and appreciates the multifaceted contributions of all its members.

Nationally, The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans. Check out some of the free resources available on a variety of topics at