Meet The Team


Deric Kimler, Executive Director

Deric comes to Central Illinois FRIENDS with a degree from Drake University and a passion for helping people. He is a dedicated and hard working individual ready to take this organization to the next level in supporting those living with and affected by HIV. If he isn't at the office, you'll usually find him running around one of the many community theater's in Central Illinois, coaching baseball, in a Peoria area board meeting somewhere or in his hometown of Williamsfield, IL spending time with his family.


Kacinda Helfers, Office Manager

Kacinda graduated from Methodist College in 2017 with her Bachelors in Health Sciences. She continues to expand her abilities and skills in the community by reaching out to people who need assistance with their healthcare needs and linking them to care. Kacinda is not only an active healthcare team member, but also an active Mother. She has two children that are involved in sports. She spends her extra time running them around and loves to be outdoors.


Alexander Martin, Educator, Outreach, Test Counselor and Event Coordinator

Alexander Martin, hailing from Hurricane West Virginia, received their B.F.A in studio art at West Virginia University and their M.F.A in studio art from Bradley University.  They are an artist and adjunct professor at Bradley University.  They joined Central Illinois Friends to be a part of a team that cares about their community and makes an effort to outreach overlooked communities and make resources accessible to those who need them.  When not at work they can be found working in their studio or hitting the stage for drag performances as Artemisia VanHo, Miss Gay Illinois USofA 2019


Stephanie Irving, Community Outreach and Client Service Specialist

Stephanie Irving is a Peoria native. She has an Associate's Degree In Applied Science concentrating on drugs and alcohol. She enjoys being of service to others. Stephanie is a mother of 6 and enjoys living and enjoying her grandchildren and traveling.


Jimena Lopez, Educator, Outreach, Testing Counselor & Translator

Jimena Lopez is a Spanish interpreter by trade, but reproductive freedom has become her passion and the catalyst that lead to her activism. She is the current president of the Peoria ACLU, an active member of Change Peoria and she is a founding member of Peorians for Reproductive Health Care, and a patient advocate for Whole Women’s Health. She is a strong supporter of community education and a believer that an informed constituency is essential to a healthy democracy.


Brittany Clinard, Health Navigation and Outreach Specialist. 

Brittany Clinard is a proud, queer woman who established herself as a voice of the trans community in Bloomington, IL. She stepped out of the closet in 2017 and has been focused on finding her niche as an advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community. She founded TransAscension, previously known as B’N Trans - Community, in early 2018. TransAscension’s mission is to create a safe community for transgender and non-gender conforming people to provide peer support to one another. She comes to Central Illinois Friends with the goal of connecting people with the resources they need to live healthy and fulfilling lives.


Morgan Mullen, Driver and Test Counselor

Morgan is a cool laid back cat just trying to make the world a better place. Each day of work is a chance to make it a little easier for someone else, so why not make a difference while making a life?


Darryl Pegus, Testing Counselor

Darryl has been testing with us since we begin the prevention department here at Central Illinois Friends. Darryl is our most senior tester and you can see him during our special events and Get Yourself Testing Days providing the much-needed counseling and services that our community needs.


Deborah Helregal, Testing Counselor

Deb, an eight-time award winner for best Illinois HIV Education Team, was recognized in 2016 by IDPH for 20 years of outstanding service to the Ryan White Part B HIV Education Program.

Her educational presentations on HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis and STIs weaved together facts and awareness while trying to abate stigmatism. She also wrote many entertaining plays infusing them with education and awareness.



Mark Lasswell, Outreach & Testing Counselor

Mark Lasswell, of East Peoria, spent most of his career working and volunteering in the non-profit sector. His interests and causes are varied from serving on multiple local city commissions, serving almost 2 decades as a library board trustee, former board member of Illinois Very Special Arts and many other non-profit boards, HIV testing and outreach, and the serving on the Equality Illinois Statewide Advisory Group.


Robert Mitchell (Mytch), Driver

 Mytch loves driving for Central Illinois Friends and providing direct services for people in Central Illinois. Mytch is a U.S. veteran and loves serving his community just as he always has.

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Amanda Marcanio, Testing Counselor

Amanda comes to Central Illinois from Florida. She has a degree in Health Promotion from the University of West Florida. As a Certified Health Education Specialist, Amanda has a passion for reproductive health. She joined Central Illinois FRIENDS to further her knowledge and experience when it comes to HIV. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, practicing yoga, cooking and spending time with her dog.



Christina King, Test  Counselor & Peer Outreach


Samantha Farmer, Test Counselor

Samantha Farmer is a mother of three and is currently enrolled and Spoon River College for diesel technology. Residing in Canton, Samantha works on our presence throughout the western half of our region. She loves spending time with her dog and has been in recovery for 2 and 1/2 years which is why she says she likes working for Central Illinois Friends. "Working for this organization allows me to give back and show people that there is still hope it's definitely brought me out of my shell and built up my self-confidence."

Headshot 2019

Becca Mathis, Test Counselor

Becca Mathis has her bachelor’s degree in Community Health Education, is a Certified Health Education Specialist, and has 5+ years’ experience in providing and coordinating sexual and reproductive health education. Healthy literacy is a life saver, literally, and Becca has found her passion for comprehensive adolescent health education that supports informed decision-making across the lifespan. Becca joined Central Illinois FRIENDS to further support adolescent prevention education. Some of the most impactful events provided for adolescents in our community are the GYT: Get Yourself Tested health fair events that Becca assists in coordinating.

Board of Directors 

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Jerry Turpin, Board Chair

Jerry Turpin joined Central Illinois Friends as a board member in 2018 after working with the organization throughout the community. Jerry is a native to the Peoria area and has been in the healthcare industry for over 10 years where he currently holds the role of Laboratory Client Services and Sales Coordinator for UnityPoint Health - Central Illinois.  Jerry’s unique blend of healthcare and business aptitude helps shape the organizational services that Friends is able to provide currently and in its future endeavors. In Jerry’s free time, he enjoys traveling and creating new experiences with his friends and family.

Pronouns: He/Him/His


Kathleen Griffith, Board Vice Chair

Kat Griffith has her Masters in Social Work and works with women with addictions. Kat has served on several committees, including the Positive Women’s Network as a Steering Committee member, and now is a Board member of PWN-USA. Kat sat on the Curriculum Advisory Committee for the National Network to End Domestic Violence as a representative of PWN-USA and helped create a national curriculum on the intersection of violence and HIV in women and girls.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers


Micah Lavender, Board Treasurer

Works for Caterpillar as a Machine Forecaster. Micah has been involved with Central Illinois Friends for 6 years now and is happy to be active in an organization working on creating a stronger and healthier future for his children.

Pronouns: He/Him/His


Nina Rena-Gougis, Board Secretary


Jordan Borders, Board Member



Bernice Gordon-Young, Board Member



Dr. Elaine Hardy, Board Member

Elaine hails from the South Suburbs of Chicago; lived in Northwest Indiana, moved to an eastern borough of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and is now a resident of Central Illinois. She is a doctorally prepared nurse, and is a nursing professor at a local college. She loves to mentor, motivate and encourage others to be the best they can be. She loves the natural beauty of central Illinois and is thrilled with capturing photos of the magnificent central Illinois sky.

 Pronouns: She/Her/Hers


Dr. Rita Ali, Board Member


Jonathan Harwood, Board Member

Jonathan Harwood joined the Central Illinois Friends board in July 2017 because as a health care provider, he supports and promotes its mission and goals of providing those living with HIV/AIDS the resources necessary to lead a better life.

Pronouns: He/Him/His


Anthony Gardner, Board Member

Headshot Pic MDS

Michelle Sanders, Board Member

Michelle Sanders began working for Heartland Health Services in September 2016 as an Outreach and Enrollment Coordinator.  She was later promoted to the Outreach and Enrollment Manager and now to her current position as Director of Development and Marketing.  Michelle is responsible for the implementation of all marketing, communications, development and oversees Community Outreach initiatives to help position and sustain Heartland Health Services in Peoria, Tazewell, and surrounding counties.

Michelle has 24 years’ experience in outreach, branding, event planning, grant writing, and fundraising; Michelle spent most of her career working with low to moderate-income families providing services and resources.  Michelle has degrees in Business Management and Finance.  She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and the Public Relations Association (PRA).  In her spare time, Michelle likes to bowl, spend time with family and travel.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers


Nicole Robertson, Board Member


Dennis Pierce, Board Member