Deric Kimler, Executive Director
Deric comes to Central Illinois Friends with a B.A. from Drake University, an M.A. in Nonprofit Leadership from Bradley University, and a passion for helping people. Deric's personal mission in life is to fully embody a people-first mindset, never forgetting to teach when he learns or to give when he gets. He believes in fighting for justice and equal opportunities for all, while showing compassion, empathy, and inspiring those around him to take action for their communities. Dr. Martin Luther King reminds us "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."
Through the past few years, Deric has been an advocate for preventative healthcare, LGBTQI+ healthcare, Illinois' Getting To Zero, and the Peoria Arts community. If he isn't at the office, you'll usually find him running around one of the many community theaters in Central Illinois, coaching baseball, or in his hometown of Williamsfield, IL spending time with his family.
Brittany Clinard, Office Manager
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.
Alexander Martin, Peer Outreach & Marketing
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 makes 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
Jimena Lopez, Peer Outreach & Counseling.
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.
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?
Stephanie Irving, Office Support and Test Counselor
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.
JP Fisher, Driver
JP Fisher is a Business Management Major from Aiken, South Carolina. JP is an avid sports fan and family-oriented person who recently just moved to Illinois. Now in the Peoria area, he is enjoying all the new experiences Peoria has to offer and is excited to be working for an agency that gives back to this community.
Kacinda Helfers, Test Counselor
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.
Darryl Pegus, Test 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, Test 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.
Amanda Marcanio, Test 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.
Samantha Farmer, Test Counselor
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.
Mark Lasswell, 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.
Christina King, Test Counselor & Peer Outreach
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
Jerry Turpin, Board Chair
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.
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.
Nina Rena-Gougis, Board Secretary
Jordan Borders, Board Member
Bernice Gordon-Young, Board Member
Bernice is a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC) at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center working with children and families and in private practice where she counsels individuals on parole and probation. She began her counseling career in 1994 and simultaneously worked for the Peoria Police Department as a 911 dispatcher for nearly 20 years, which inspired her desire to have a more direct influence on the citizens of Peoria and surrounding counties. She is a motivational speaker focused on empowerment in corporate and public settings. Bernice is pursuing her PhD and is on track to earn her Doctorate of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision with a specialization in Forensic Mental Health. Bernice is the Founder of It Takes a Village of Peoria (ITAV), a nonprofit organization aimed at supporting basic needs in the community. She serves on numerous boards and committees throughout the region and especially embraces the meaning of FRIENDS (A place where people enter as strangers and leave as friends). She enjoys spending time with family and friends as well as meeting people across the world through her travels.
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.
Dr. Rita Ali, Board Member
A longtime Peoria resident, Dr. Rita Ali has made an indelible mark on her community in a range of leadership roles. As vice president of workforce, diversity and career development at Illinois Central College, she helps prepare the next generation for careers in the 21st-century economy. As an at-large member of the Peoria City Council, she works to expand opportunities for living wage jobs, affordable housing, quality healthcare and safe neighborhoods. She is a bridge-builder and collaborator, striving to better connect the community to more effectively meet human needs, and a lifelong learner, having earned her master’s degree, MBA and PhD.
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.
Anthony Gardner, Board Member
Anthony Gardner is a community activist and former political advisor. He resides in Pekin, IL where he works for Farmers Insurance as the Talent Coordinator for Central Illinois. Anthony has created/co-found 4 different non-profits that mainly involve helping the underprivileged youth in the community.
When he is not working he loves to spend time with his family and pets. He is very excited to be on the board for Central Illinois Friends and to help expand their presence in the community.
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.
Nicole Robertson, Board Member
Nicole Robertson is Clinical Associate Faculty at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria and manages the Innovation in Rural Global Medicine (IRGmed) program. Since moving to Illinois in 2017, she has also worked at Methodist College as Associate Director of Community-Based Primary Care Partnerships. Her professional experiences and interests include population health, innovation, community outreach, and interdisciplinary education. Nicole is passionate about community engagement, advancing health equity in marginalized communities, and cross-sector collaboration to achieve shared goals. She has served in a variety of volunteer positions including fundraising, program development, and board leadership for a number of non-profit organizations.
Born and raised in Canada, Nicole has lived in seven states over the past 25 years but is now happy to call central IL home. She holds a Master's degree in Public Health with an emphasis in Health Administration and Health Promotion from Portland State University and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Dennis Pierce, Board Member
Dennis has lived in Peoria since 2006 and immediately got involved volunteering with Central Illinois Friends. Since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Dennis has had firsthand experience and has been an activist ever since. In the 80’s, Dennis lived in Los Angeles where he first saw the suffering and lost many of his friends due to the lack of response, resources and stigma. In the 90’s, Dennis lived in Chicago where the cocktail combinations were helping but the toxins and side effects were harsh. He is a certified massage therapist and volunteered for 5 years with the AIDS Alternative Health Project (AAHP) and 7 years with Project Vida, offering massages to people living with HIV/AIDS. One may ask, why massage? There are so many health benefits through massage therapy for people with chronic illnesses, but the main one for people living with HIV was love through touch. Dennis feels the need to get back involved in the community, as this epidemic is not over. People living with HIV are still in need of support and assistance to try to live a healthy life, physically and mentally. Dennis would like to see the continuance of education, awareness and outreach to all to end stigma and get us to zero new HIV diagnosis in our community. Dennis is excited to jump in and contribute in many ways to keep FRIENDS alive and to extend the mission throughout Central Illinois. Dennis enjoys spending time with friends, traveling and bowling.
Becki Salmon, Board Member
Becki Salmon is the CEO of Hardin Industries. Her specialties
include business strategy and operational planning, financial and operational management, new venture development, technology, corporate restructure and building leaders. Becki has over 25 years of experience in both large and small company settings, including CFO of G&D Integrated, Manager with Price Waterhouse Coopers, Treasurer / CFO for her family’s business, and several years consulting for small business and non-profit organizations.
Ms. Salmon loves the Peoria community, has served on many area boards and is an avid supporter of human rights. She enjoys spending her free time with family and friends, watching Kentucky basketball, and cheering on the St. Louis Cardinals.
Randy Anderson-Maxwell, Board Member
Native Peorian and happily married, graduate of Dunlap High School, Attended: University of Miami, Illinois State University, Illinois Central College, and Bradley University. Fields of study: BFA in Music Theater and BA in Sociology. Today Randy serves as the Senior Banquet Manager with Savor at The Peoria Civic Center Civic.
Randy has been passionately involved in every community he's lived in being involved with Aid for Aids, LA Food Pantry, Rainbow Youth Outreach, Vice President of Friendship House, Volunteer of the year at Peoria Planned Parenthood, Board Member for Illinois Youth Pride, Founder of Acorn Equality Fund, Chair and Founder of Dismas House in South Bend, Indiana.
In Randy's downtime, he enjoys cooking, gardening, politics, films, ballet & theater. Randy served as a regular on a cooking show in LA called MADAM DISH.