About VRA

VRA is an organization for individuals actively working to ensure the highest quality of life for all Virginians with disabilities by providing education, advocacy, resources and opportunities for personal growth

Our Mission

VRA BoardIt is the mission of VRA to promote issues that enable persons with disabilities to participate in the mainstream of society, to provide opportunities for professional development for persons in the field of rehabilitation and independent living. VRA is involved in the following activities: Legislative Advocacy, Removal of Architectural Barriers, Professional Development, The VRA Foundation, Inc.

Our History

VRA BoardThe VRA, a chapter of the National Rehabilitation Association (NRA), was organized on January 30, 1959. The NRA is a private, non-profit association whose members are professional persons in various areas of rehabilitation work, as well as consumers, volunteers, educators, students, and interested citizens.

By 1964, the total membership of VRA was slightly more than 600 persons. Approximately 60% were professional members representing physicians, rehabilitation counselors, vocational evaluators, therapists, social workers, nurses, administrators, and placement specialists. The remaining members included persons interested in the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities. The association was incorporated August 12, 1968.

Accomplishments at the State Level

Virginia Rehabilitation Association Gives Back

The Mission of VRA is to promote issues that enable persons with disabilities to participate in the mainstream of society, and to provide opportunities for professional development for persons in the field of rehabilitation and independent living.

VRA Gives Back is a Special Projects Committee with the extend to support a student of vocational rehabiliation, a family in need, a consumer in need or project in the Commonwealth of Virginia that highlights the mission and values of VRA and is in need of support and/or funds for their endeavors.

Since the inception of the VRA Gives Back three organizations have been awarded monetary grants to support their missions. The organizations are Sun Wheelers, REACHcycles and McShin Foundation

Community Alliance

Pre-ADA (1985), this committee was already addressing consumer concerns. The most recent committee chair was a person with a disability and a VRA activist. He also helped to organize a consumer alliance focused on needs of persons with disabilities. The committee continues to work in bringing consumers and allied interest groups together.

Tidewater Community Alliance

A VRA President and a committee chair were catalysts for assisting a fragmented group of activists to form an alliance in the Tidewater area. This Hampton Roads coalition refocused and still functions today as one of the most powerful consumer groups in Tidewater. Their success sparked enthusiasm for continuation of the Community Alliance Committee.

Housing for the Disabled

In 1990, the Legislative Committee Chair worked with the Virginia Housing Authority to ensure legislation for building codes to include appropriate housing for persons with disabilities.

Virginians with Disabilities Act

House Bill 817 (passed in March 1985) was initiated in the Virginia Rehabilitation Association. Members were involved throughout the process of composing, educating the community, advocacy and passage of the bill.

Legislative Advocate

When rehabilitation issues are proposed for legislative action in Virginia, VRA employs legislative advocates to represent the disability community at the General Assembly as well as activating its own membership network.

Virginia Rehabilitation Association Foundation, Inc.

An educational grant program was established in 1985 with $1,000 and was funded to $10,000 in 1988. At that time, the VRA board mandated the creation of a Foundation to administer the grants and solicit additional funding. The Foundation was incorporated in 1992 and is governed by a Board of Trustees.

Community Awareness

The First Miss Wheelchair America pageant was the outcome of a father's concern for his daughter who never expected to be able to participate in a Miss America Pageant. It originated in 1974 as a forum to promote the needs as well as the achievements of women with disabilities. The Miss Wheelchair Virginia Pageant started the same year and became a major annual event sponsored by the VRA.

In 1982, the VRA was proud to have the Pageant become a fully independent, non-profit corporation and continued to provide encouragement and involvement. The Pageant emphasized personal achievement, personality, the competitiveness of women with disabilities, and promoted the elimination of both architectural and attitudinal barriers. In 1993, the Pageant sponsored training in the Americans with Disabilities Act for all former Pageant winners.

Accomplishments at the National Level


Beginning with people like Mary Switzer and Corbett Reedy, the Virginia Chapter has provided strong leadership on state, regional and national levels. This has included Board memberships, Commission and Committee members and chairs, as well as Presidents of the Divisions. A Virginia Chapter member, Bill Brownfield served as national President in 1989 and 1990.

Access Us

This program is a forerunner of ADA. It is a national project promoting access in the United States for persons with disabilities through the surveying, identification and publication of facilities for meetings and lodging accommodations that met NRA's minimum accessibility guidelines. A guide for surveying facilities was published and each chapter had two surveyors trained by the national programmers to become state chapter "train the trainers." VRA offered site surveyors and information as a public service.


(Signed into law July 26, 1990.) VRA Membership was actively involved in all stages of this legislation. They supported, advocated and participated in the march on Washington. Several VRA members were present for the signing of the law. A VRA member who was serving as NRA President attended and was later invited to the White House by President Bush to receive recognition of VRA and NRA involvement in the creation, and advocacy for its passage.

National Legislative Representation

VRA is represented at the national level by a full time employee at the National Office. A VRA member worked on the Federal committee to write the Rehabilitation Amendment Act of 1992.

Mary Switzer Memorial Bust Fund

The Virginia Chapter served as a conduit for funds raised across the nation to have a bronze bust of Mary Switzer created and mounted at the Mary Switzer Building in Washington.

VRA Awards

You can read descriptions of the VRA Awards here.

Historical rosters of VRA Award Recipients can be viewed here:

Continue below to find:

Governing Documents

VRA Constitution

VRA Constitution
(NRA-approved 01-05-2007)

VRA Constitution

VRA By-Laws

VRA Bylaws
(NRA-approved 01-05-2007)

VRA By-Laws

Mr. Roberts and VRA

Mr. Roberts and VRA

Mr. Roberts and VRA

VRA Policies & Procedures

VRA Revised Duties Manual

VRA Regions

Map of VRA Regions


Shown below are the many divisions of the Virginia Rehabilitation Association. Current Division officers can be found here.

If you would like more information about any of these divisions, or would like to participate in the activities of one or more division, please email us.

Virginia Association of Rehabilitation Leadership


It shall be the purpose of VARL to develop, improve, and strengthen leadership skills and practices in both public and private rehabilitation organizations.

2018 VARL Officers and Board

President: Tiffany Jenkins, Dept for Aging and Rehabilitative Services
President Elect: Nichole Tichy, NW Works, Inc.
Immediate Past President: Dawn Scott, The Choice Group
Treasurer: Naomi Aitken, Dept for Aging and Rehabilitative Services
Secretary: Andrew Stowe, Career Support Systems

Board Members

Sarah Cavaliere
Sarah Storck
Leah Burgess
Terri Steward

Virginia Rehabilitation Counselors and Educators Association


It shall be the purpose of VRCEA to advance the profession of rehabilitation counseling and rehabiliation education by promoting ethical practice, enhancing public understanding, and devoloping innovative programs and services for all persons with disabilities.

2018 VRCEA Officers and Board

President: Rhonda Beavers-Chandler, DARS-Danville Office
Immediate Past President: Kelly Desclos, Danville-Pittsylvania CSB
President Elect: vacant
Secretary: Dawn Mosley, DARS-Richmond Office
Treasurer: Kathleen Shifflett, DARS-Leesburg Office

VRCEA Board Members

Tyler Schreffler
Tuajuana moot-Hairston


Governing Documents

VRCEA Constitution & By-Laws, October 2011

VRCEA Duties Manual Draft, adopted June 2011

VRA Officers



William Sutton Jr.

Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services
2001 Maywill St.
Suite 202
Richmond, VA 23230
(w)(804) 588-3311
(c) 804-239-3288
President's Email

President Elect

Immediate Past President

Adaire Jensen-Smith

c/o The Choice Group
4807 Radford Ave
Suite 106
Richmond, VA 23230
(804) 278-9151
Immediate Past President's Email

See a list of Past VRA Presidents.


Ericka Neville

c/o The Choice Group
4807 Radford Ave.
Suite 106
Richmond, VA 23230
Secretary's Email


Eleanor Williams

c/o Dept for Aging and Rehabilitative Services
8004 Franklin Farms Drive
Henrico, VA 23229
(804) 662-7075
Treasurer's Email

Committee Chairs

Education & Training

Membership & Communication

Sue Collins



Sam Rothrock


Legislative Advocate

Becky Bowers-Lanier

B2L Consulting, LLC
PO Box 1097
Richmond, VA 23218-1097
(804) 225-1955


William Sutton Jr.


Adair Jensen-Smith



Dawn Scott


Kate Gariepy



Nominations and Elections

Adair Jensen-Smith


Ways and Means

Kim Shepard


Mid Atlantic NRA Representatives

Shawn Zimmerman

Virginia Dept for Aging and Rehabilitative Services
11150 Fairfax Blvd
Suite 300
Fairfax, VA 22030
(w) 703-277-3521
(c) 651-338-0345