Meet the Alabama Board of Rehabilitation Services

The Alabama Board of Rehabilitation Services is comprised of seven members, with one from each Congressional district. Of these, three members must have a disability, one must be the parent of a child with a disability and three members must be from business and industry. Biographies of the current board members are below.

Stephen G. Kayes
District 1, Mobile

Stephen G. KayesDr. Stephen G. Kayes, who was paralyzed in car-bicycle accident as a young man, is a professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in Mobile. He holds a joint secondary appointment in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and he is a member of the Center for Lung Biology. His teaching and research experience includes positions at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, The University of Iowa College of Medicine and Vanderbilt University College of Medicine. Dr. Kayes is the author of numerous scientific articles, book chapters and theses. He has given many seminars, talks and lectures in his areas of expertise while participating in educational symposia around the nation including talks at Upjohn Pharmaceutical Company and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. He is currently the president-elect of the American Society of Parasitologists, the nation’s oldest scientific society dedicated to the study of animal parasites.

Dr. Kayes has been a longtime proponent of diversity, especially as it relates to people with disabilities. His advocacy for this often-overlooked population includes involvement at the university, municipal and national levels where he is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Task Force on Scientists with Disabilities. He received a special award from the president of Vanderbilt University for his assistance with Vanderbilt’s response to one of the first-ever federal audits of accessibility of a university campus under Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Jimmie Varnado
District 2, Montgomery
Board Chairperson, 2014

Jimmie Varnado, a native of Mobile, is branch manager/assistant vice president with Sterling Bank in Montgomery. Prior to joining Sterling, Varnado served in the U.S. Air Force for 28 years, retiring in 2000 as a lieutenant colonel. He has a bachelor of arts in business administration from Dillard University and a master of science in personnel management from Troy University.

Varnado is active in his community and has been honored for volunteer service by Junior League of Montgomery, Outreach Ministry, and the Alpha Upsilon Chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. In addition to serving on the Alabama Board of Rehabilitation Services, he has been a board member of the Central Montgomery Optimist Club, board member and treasurer of the River Region United Way, a member of the Board of Directors of the American Red Cross, and vice president of Leadership Montgomery.

Penny Piland Foster
District 3, Auburn

Penny Piland Foster's personal experience as the mother of a teen-age daughter with Down syndrome gives her a unique perspective on disability services in Alabama.  She has been a vocal and tireless advocate for Maggie as well as other children with special needs as a member of Alabama’s Interagency Coordinating Council, the Alabama Council on Developmental Disabilities, the Exceptional Outreach Organization, and the Montgomery Area Down Syndrome Outreach Group, and as the vice president of the Exceptional Foundation of East Alabama. 

She is the founder of The Journey School, a nonprofit inclusive preschool, as well as a co-founder of TEAM 21, a networking group for parents of children with Down syndrome; and Blessings on the Plains, a nonprofit day program for adults with disabilities now known as the Exceptional Foundation of East Alabama.

Mrs. Foster has a bachelor of science from the University of South Alabama, a master’s degree in early childhood and elementary education from the University of Alabama, and has taught kindergarten as well as elementary school. 

District 4

Eddie C. Williams
District 5, Huntsville

Williams has enjoyed a long career with one of Alabama’s most prestigious technology companies, Sanmina-SCI, a global leader in electronics manufacturing services. He is currently senior avionics program manager at Sanmina-SCI’s Defense and Aerospace Division facility in Huntsville.

In addition to his experience in the state and international business community, Williams has been very involved in a number of organizations, at both the community and national levels. His volunteer activities include serving as chairman of the board of directors of the Madison-Marshall County chapter of the American Red Cross, board member of Huntsville’s Downtown Rescue Mission, board member of the Greater Huntsville Chapter of the 100 Black Men of America, and member of the National Management Association, the leadership development organization for which he is national vice president.

As the parent of an adult son with autism, Williams also has a very personal knowledge and understanding of disability. In addition, he has the broader knowledge and understanding gained by serving as board member and treasurer of the North Alabama Autism Society as well as former chairman of the board of Phoenix (formerly the Huntsville Rehabilitation Foundation).

Williams represents business and industry on the board.

Roger McCullough
District 6, Birmingham

Roger McCullough is a long-time advocate for the employment of people with disabilities and has worked as a business partner with ADRS for more than 30 years. He was appointed to the Alabama Board of Rehabilitation Services in 2000. 

Mr. McCullough retired from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2004, where he served as assistant vice president for human resource management and most recently as manager of HR Information and Technology Services with the Personnel Board of Jefferson County. In addition to his involvement on the ADRS board, Mr. McCullough currently serves as chairman of ABLE Network Inc., a consortium of businesses throughout Alabama that support the hiring and advancement of people with disabilities in the workplace.

William "Mitch" Strickland
District 7, Tuscaloosa

Strickland is a powerlifter who has won gold medals at several national and international competitions. He received a degree in public relations in 1995 from the University of Alabama. He was Alabama's 1991 Wheelchair Athlete of the Year and a 1991 inductee into the Dixie Wheelchair Sports Hall of Fame. In addition to his involvement with ADRS , Strickland serves on the board of directors of Wheelchair Sports USA as well as the Paralympic Athlete's Advisory Committee. He represents people with disabilities on the ADRS board.

Meeting minutes