Southerland to lead Westfield disabilities organization


A Westfield resident has been named chairperson of the Westfield Mayor’s Council on Disabilities. 

Nicole Southerland, who serves as director of CICOA Aging and In-Home Solutions, was selected to lead the organization, which was created last year. The organization’s mission is to “make a positive impact in the lives of people with disabilities in Westfield by promoting inclusion, life-cycle planning, and access in the short-term and tackling long-term challenges including housing, transportation and workforce development,” officials said. 

Joanne Tedesco, founder of the council on disabilities, said it has been an honor to lead the organization for the past year. 

“During that time, we have formed valuable partnerships across Hamilton County. As we continue to provide our community with quality resources and valuable disability-related information, we must remember that positive change will come from systemic transformation at the state level,” Tedesco said. 

Officials said the Westfield Mayor’s Council on Disabilities have held events featuring conversations about planning for the future, special needs estate planning, post-secondary education opportunities, disability employment, deaf and hard of hearing resources and the importance of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination based on disability. The ADA, a civil rights law, was established in 1990 and its purpose is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else, according to the ADA National Network website. 

“I’m thrilled to take on the leadership role for the Westfield Mayor’s Council on Disabilities and believe my skills and experiences will add great value,” Southerland said. “I’ve been working at CICOA for over 20 years and have a pulse on statewide programs, funding, and behind-the-scenes details that will benefit the disability community.”

City officials said Mayor Andy Cook, along with Westfield City Councilman Scott Willis, were both early supporters of a disability council being created in Westfield. 

“While I’m disappointed that we weren’t successful in securing a disability ordinance in Westfield, we have made enormous gains,” Willis said. “This council has uncovered issues and has started some critical conversations that will impact not only people with disabilities but the city overall.”

Cook also commended the Westfield Mayor’s Council on Disabilities for its ongoing work. 

“The disability population is a passionate group that works tirelessly for inclusion, acceptance, and understanding,” Cook said. “I’m thrilled that we have (the) Westfield Mayor’s Council on Disabilities up and running and am confident it will be just as vibrant in the future.”

Anyone interested in getting involved with the Westfield Mayor’s Council on Disabilities is asked to email i[email protected]. For more, visit