Ability360’s executive team is comprised of individuals with extensive experience and education. The team has over 70 years of collective experience in the nonprofit and independent living market.
President and CEO
Christopher Rodriguez has an extensive history advocating alongside and on behalf of individuals with disabilities on the local, state, and national levels. Before becoming the President & CEO of Ability360, Rodriguez served as the Executive Director of Disability Rights Louisiana (DRLA), an organization that aims to empower and advocate for the human and legal rights of people with disabilities. In addition, Rodriguez has held several other positions in the disability advocacy community, including Director of Public Policy for National Disability Institute, Director of Governmental Affairs and Media Relations for the Michigan Protection and Advocacy, and Director of Chapter Services at The Arc of Texas.
Rodriguez received his undergraduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley. He earned his graduate degree in Public Affairs at the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin. Rodriguez also holds a graduate minor in Disability Studies. Rodriguez’s passion for advocating comes from his experiences as the younger sibling to a person with significant intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Vice President of Advocacy
April Reed is the Vice President of Advocacy and Designated Legislative Lobbyist at Ability360. Reed received her Master’s degree in Social Work from Arizona State University in May 2005. Reed creates programs that empower individuals with disabilities and their families. These programs include advocacy-related workshops, one-on-one mentoring, facilitating wellness groups, providing technical assistance to develop consumer-driven initiatives, and developing community partnerships that address barriers to consumer choice, equal rights, and self-determination.
At Ability360, Reed supervises several programs, e.g., the 65-member peer mentor volunteer team; Benefits 2 Work Program for Social Security beneficiaries working or seeking employment; This is MY Life self-advocacy educational program for individuals receiving services through the Arizona Division of Developmental Disabilities: the Community Leadership Academy; Theatre360 and the Living Well with a Disability Program.
Vice President of
Darrel Christenson serves as the Vice President of Community Integration at Ability360. In his position, Christenson oversees Independent Living skills training, home modifications, information and referrals, and Independent Living services to individuals with disabilities in Valley rehabilitation centers and nursing homes. All services aim to empower persons with disabilities to take responsibility for their lives and live independently in their community.
Before his post with Ability360, Christenson was the outreach coordinator for the Southeastern Minnesota Center for Independent Living (SEMCIL). During his time with SEMCIL, Christenson was responsible for the center’s expansion, which included opening three additional branch offices to serve the community better. Christenson also provided direct services in rural counties to persons with disabilities, their families, and the community at large.
Christenson, a Minnesota native, graduated from Mankato State University, Mankato, Minnesota, with bachelor’s degrees in both Psychology and Sociology. Christenson also earned his master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Wisconsin – Stout, Menomonie, Wisconsin.
Since July 2014, Christenson serves on the Board of Directors for the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL).
Vice President of
Home Care Services
Todd Fricke is responsible for leading the Home Care Services operation at Ability360. Fricke, a Phoenix native, has worked in the home and community-based services in Arizona as well as other states throughout the country. Fricke’s breadth of leadership includes experience with independent living, personal care, home health, hospice, intellectual and developmental disability, behavioral health, and therapy.
Fricke is a graduate of Ottawa University’s School of Social Work and started his career as a caregiver working with people with developmental disabilities. Most recently, Fricke served as the Executive Director for Indiana MENTOR–a leading home and community-based human services provider–and was responsible for the growth of MENTOR’s intermediate care facilities, adult day health centers, and advocacy efforts.
Vice President of Finance
Feng Chiou joined the Ability360 team in 2002, when the agency budget was $6.5 million. She now oversees financial operations for a budget exceeding $40 million. After earning a bachelor’s in Accountancy at NAU, Feng applied her financial/accounting knowledge in positions at Maricopa Integrated Health System and St. Luke’s Health System. When she’s not crunching numbers, Ms. Chiou lends her expertise as a volunteer tax preparer for low-income individuals and has volunteered for Tzu Chi Foundation, an international humanitarian organization.
Vice President & General Manager, Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center
LaZear’s background includes more than 18 years of experience managing major programs and initiatives in rehabilitative medicine, recreational therapy, outdoor adventures and other adaptive programming for people with disabilities. For the last six years, LaZear handled responsibilities as lead therapeutic recreational therapist at the Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. LaZear earned a master’s of Business Administration, with an emphasis in Health Systems Management, from Grand Canyon University and a Bachelor of Science in Therapeutic Recreation from California State University Northridge.
Vice President of
Communication & Marketing
Loren Worthington is Ability360’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications. He is also the publisher of LivAbility magazine.
Prior to joining Ability360 he worked in marketing in the hospitality and resort industry. He also holds two patents used for conducting inspections on underwater pipelines (go figure).
He has an extensive portfolio of work as a photographer with an emphasis on sports photography. He was an official photographer for TeamUSA at the Summer Games in Rio. You’ve seen his work in numerous Arizona-based outlets and nationally in New Mobility Magazine and Sports N’ Spokes.
As an avid outdoorsman, he sits on numerous committees that work to improve the accessibility of the outdoors.
Worthington has a bachelor’s in economics from Arizona State University.