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DRC Staff

Rocky Nichols M.P.A.
Executive Director

Rocky brings over 20 years of experience in non-profit leadership and public policy advocacy (11 as a member of the Kansas House of Representatives, two as legislative staff and nine at DRC Kansas). Rocky is a veteran advocate for disability rights issues. Rocky is also a former member of the Next Generation Leadership Committee of the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. Rocky received his undergraduate degree from Washburn University and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Kansas. Rocky has been the recipient of more than 20 awards for legislative leadership and advocacy, including many significant awards on behalf of persons with disabilities: Elizabeth M. Boggs Award for Outstanding Leadership in the area of Intellectual Disability, given by the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities; 1996 and 2002 Outstanding Public Official of the Year Award, given by the Kansas Association of Community Mental Health Centers; 1996 and 2002 Kansas NAMI Advocacy Award; 2001 Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, Outstanding Advocate Award.

Debbie White, C.P.A.
Deputy Director Administrative Division
Debbie has worked in public accounting, state government and the nonprofit sector. She is a licensed Certified Public Accountant. For the past three years, Debbie was the Chief Financial Officer of Kansas Legal Services. As CFO of Kansas Legal Services, she managed a budget that is nearly eight times the size of DRC, with 27 cost centers and dozens of grant financial reporting requirements. Debbie is a native Kansan and received her undergraduate degree in accounting from Kansas State University.

Lane Williams, J.D.
Deputy Director, Legal Division

Lane received his law degree from the University of Kansas and his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Baker University. For two years during law school, Lane advised and represented inmates of Lansing State and Leavenworth Federal prisons as a member of the Defender Project. Lane is licensed to practice law in Kansas and Washington. He was a staff attorney for Kansas Legal Services in Pittsburg and Topeka for 11.5 years and was in private practice in Aberdeen, Washington, for 9 years before joining DRC. At Kansas Legal Services, Lane specialized in public and private housing law and Social Security and SSI disability law. His areas of emphasis in private practice were land use, consumer and construction law.

Catherine Johnson, J.D., M.A
Disability Rights Attorney

Catherine received her law degree from the University of Iowa, College of Law. Catherine is licensed to practice law in Kansas, Missouri and Iowa(inactive). She received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration and English from the University of Iowa, as well as a Masters Degree in Higher Education, specializing in students’ civil rights. Catherine started her legal career as a staff attorney for Muscatine Legal Services, advocating for individuals in civil, criminal and juvenile actions. Catherine’s long standing interest in civil rights in education, led to her unique professional opportunities, as Director of Student Legal Services, University of Iowa, Assistant Dean of Students for Saint Louis University, School of Law for Managing Attorney Civil Justice Clinic, Washington University School of Law. In those capacities she represented, advocated and counseled students in legal, academic and life issues. Catherine has also been a civil commitment and defense staff attorney for the Iowa and Missouri Public Defender Offices, where she represented individuals the state sought to commit under newly enacted civil commitment statutes. Catherine has written numerous appellate briefs and presented oral arguments before the Iowa Appellate Courts.

Mary Curtis, J.D.
Disability Rights Attorney
Mary Curtis has been practicing law for more than twenty years, as a public defender and advocate for victims of sexual and domestic violence.  Mary grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, and graduated from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1984. She began her career clerking for the Missouri Court of Appeals in Kansas City, Missouri.  She then worked for the Missouri Public Defender system for eight years, the last two years exclusively representing persons facing the death penalty.   In 1995, Mary moved to Kansas to help establish the death penalty defense unit of the Kansas public defender system, in response to passage of the death penalty in Kansas.  Since that time, she has worked as an appellate attorney and also represented women facing domestic and sexual violence.

Kip Elliot, J.D.
Disability Rights Attorney
Kip received his Bachelor of Arts degree in education and physiology from Ft. Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.  After teaching and running outdoor education programs, Kip went back to school and received his law degree from the University of Kansas.  Kip worked for the Kansas public defender system for nine years and was in private practice for four years.  Kip has state and federal experience in criminal trial practice, immigration, and civil rights.  Kip is the president of the board for the Jefferson County Humane Society.

James Jordan, J.D.
Disability Rights Attorney
James graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in History from Kansas State University in 2006 and a Law Degree from the University of Kansas School of Law in 2009, and was granted admittance to the Kansas Bar in the summer of 2009.  While at KU, he was involved in various public interest law activities.  He worked in New Orleans at the Loyola Law School Katrina Clinic assisting hurricane survivors with related legal issues, helped indigent prisoners with Constitutional claims at the Defender Project, and interned for nearly a year at the Topeka and Lawrence Kansas Legal Services offices, specializing in Social Security Disability Claims and Family Law.  He is the newest member of the DRC legal team.

Timothy Voth, J.D.
Disability Rights Advocate

Tim graduated from Bethel College and Washburn University School of Law. He was the former House Manager at the Ronald McDonald House in Topeka. Tim has been employed at DRC since 1988, first as a mental health attorney, then as Intake Coordinator and Interim Executive Director. As Interim Director, Tim worked closely with the new Board of Directors to institute many of the initial reforms prior to Rocky Nichols' arrival as Executive Director. Tim serves on the Intake and Referral Advisory Committee for the National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems (NAPAS) and the Steering Committee for the Topeka Victim Offender Reconciliation Program.

Telisa Haggerty
Disability Rights Advocate
Telisa comes to DRC has held position as a research aide with the Center for Research on Learning and as a Career Assistance Network/Outreach Specialist at the YWCA.  Teilsa holds a B.S. in Mass Communication /Public Relations from Kansas State University.  Telisa has also been active in the community at YWCA of Topeka’s Mission Work Group and MANA de Topeka.  Currently, Telisa is active at Faith Temple Church.

Amy Cohen
Disability Rights Advocate
Amy Cohen received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas in psychology and her Masters degree in social work from Washburn University. For 9 years she worked with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault at the YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment.  While at the YWCA, she served on Advisory Boards for the YWCA R.A.C.E. Committee, Topeka Moving Ahead Program, Valeo Mentally Ill & Homeless Task Force, and the Emergency Aid Council. She also provided weekly outreach services at the Topeka Rescue Mission and coordinated client services with RCIL, TILRC and KYEA. Amy has a passion for photography, traveling, and sports.

Tabitha Johnson
Outreach and Special Projects Director
Tabitha previously worked as a legal assistant in a local law firm, assisting the firm and people with disabilities in the area of Social Security Disability claims and appeals. She aided and assisted many people with disabilities to obtain Social Security Disability Benefits.  Tabitha also previously worked in the area of advertising design at the Topeka Capital Journal.  She has done volunteer work at charity events to benefit CASA and the Children’s Miracle Network.

Nick Cobos
Office Assistant

Nick is a lifelong Topekan and has received office experience with companies such as Goodell, Stratton, Edmonds and Palmer. He is chairman of the Shawnee County Council of Community Members and had served in the past on the Board of Directors for DRC. Nick is a volunteer at TARC, where he once received services, and has volunteered at the Topeka Civic Theatre and Academy. Nick enjoys playing golf, watching sports, listening to music and working on the computer. He has also written his autobiography about being a self advocate and a person with a developmental disability, “Dreamer’s Don’t Quit.”

Bev Masters
Administrative Assistant

Bev provides a wealth of experience and expertise as she joins the staff at DRC.  Having received training as a Legal Office Assistant from Topeka Technical College, Bev has since worked at multiple law firms, including Frieden, Haynes & Forbes, Rost & Rost and Parker & Hay.  Bev is also a dedicated entrepreneur, owning and operating several filling stations in the Topeka area with her husband.