STAFF AND BOARD

Ryan Johnson
Executive Director
Ryan Johnson has worked in the field of disability and community inclusion for more than 10 years. His previous work at Georgia State University's Center for Leadership in Disability afforded him the opportunity to work alongside diverse families from across the state of Georgia helping them to access their local communities through natural supports.

Johnson is also an accomplished photographer who has spent more than five years telling the stories of individuals with disabilities and their families with his images. A collection of his work is currently touring the Georgia Library System.

Ryan and his wife Megan live in Bostwick, GA with their dog Jack.


Deborah Carter
Associate Director
Deborah Carter earned both her Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work degrees from the University of Georgia, with concentrations in Community Empowerment and Program Development. She earned her Graduate Certificate in Management and Leadership of Nonprofit Organizations at UGA as well.

Before joining the Georgia Microboards Association Carter worked with Citizen Advocacy of Atlanta & DeKalb, initiating and supporting freely-given relationships between people with and without disabilities. She firmly believes that the answer to "what" is "who" and helps the GMA "put people behind people who need people."

In her personal life Deborah convenes a group of people together around her friend who lives with a disability.
Randy Pilkenton
President
Randy joined the Georgia Microboards Association Board of Directors in 2015, took on various leadership roles including Vice President in 2016, and was elected President of the Board in 2018. Randy is a native of Michigan but after attending graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he and his wife Kathy have lived in Atlanta now for over 25 years. They live in Brookhaven along with their three children. Randy has over 25 years experience in executive leadership and management consulting positions developing and marketing innovative products and services in many industry sectors including software, financial technology, ecommerce, automotive services, airline, retail, and consumer products.

Randy has held leadership roles with several noted firms including McKinsey & Co., and CheckFree. He is currently a Director with a Silicon Valley-based cloud software company. Randy has been actively engaged in serving the needs of the Atlanta community throughout his time in Atlanta, including:​​​​
​- member of the advisory board at the Bobby Dodd Institute
-founding advisor to and advisory board member of Synergies Work, a non-profit supporting people with disabilities with self-employment through entrepreneurship
- mentor and coach to Endevvr, a national educational and entrepreneurship program for teens
- an early stage member of the team that developed the Hands On Atlanta Discovery Program which provides tutoring services to elementary schools in south Atlanta
- friendship and advocacy with, along with building a circle of support around, a single mother with a developmental disability
- active and a leader in the mission programs of Dunwoody United Methodist Church
Billy Upchurch
Treasurer
Billy Upchurch is an Atlanta native who resides in Buckhead with his wife Stephanie. Billy is also a Georgia Tech graduate who co-founded SmartPM Technologies and serves as the Director of Customer Services for the company.

Billy brings his experience as an entrepreneur and businessman to the Georgia Microboards Association to maximize the returns on its efforts and resources in enriching the lives of people with disabilities in Georgia.
Hannah Minks
Secretary
Hannah Minks is a 2015 graduate of Truett-McConnell University. She was born with Cerebral Palsy and loved the opportunity to spread her wings and gain more independence during her time in college.  

Hannah sees serving on the GMA board as an opportunity to continue her path towards an independent life, and an opportunity that will allow her to be a small part of other people’s journeys.

She looks forward to using her English degree while connecting with other people with disabilities who want to realize their full potential.  Her hope is to be a living demonstration of the ability to work your way around your challenges and continue towards your goals. 
Daphne Adams
Board of Directors
Daphne Adams works in the Atlanta area in the field of Information Technology. After earning a degree in Management Information Systems she held the roles of Senior Software Developer and Business Analyst. Her interest in improving the lives of people with disabilities led her to become a graduate of AADD's Partners in Policymaking and NAMI's Family-to-Family.

On the Georgia Microboard Association's Board of Directors Daphne will apply business and life lessons learned through supporting family members and friends with multiple areas of disability.
James Butler
Board of Directors
A licensed land surveyor and retired naval reservist, James Butler works part-time with the Lamar County School District as the Parent Mentor. He works collaboratively through his non-profit with other agencies that focus on youth development and serving people with disabilities in his community.

In addition to his professional background as a surveyor, he earned a BS in Psychology and is in the initial process of fulfilling an internship requirement for the completion of an MS in Professional Counseling. His desire is to promote interaction between all people in communities, particularly those living at the margins of a community.

A graduate of Partners in Policy Making, Mr. Butler is a trainer and former Regional Coordinator for Parent to Parent of Georgia, a Cultural Competency Trainer for the Georgia Department of Education, Division of Special Education and related services, and the Center for Leadership in Disability, Georgia State University.
Sally Carter
Board of Directors

Chris Hunnicutt
Board of Directors
Over the last twenty six years, Chris Hunnicutt has been focused on supporting and advocating on behalf of folks with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Since 1997 he has been professionally pursuing these ends.  ​​​​​

Initially he worked in quality assurance, quality improvement and participant safety. Later he focused upon leading edge residential services offering participants personal choice and community assimilation while providing appropriate, needed, supports.  Most recently, he worked to promote, educate and implement the strategies of customized employment. The Microboard is the logical next step for individuals and families desiring assurances for their family member’s personal choices and care throughout their life seasons. These entities focus on building and formalizing asset based community development.

Chris lives in Decatur with Marty, his wife of 43 years. In addition to Christopher, his family includes a daughter, son in law and four grandchildren who live in Ottawa, Canada.
Ben Murray
Board of Directors

Ben Murray joined the Georgia Microboards Association Board of Directors in 2018, as a continued investment in a community that he’s celebrated from an early age. Ben’s commitment to the field of disabilities & community inclusion began with Noah’s Ark at age 5 and evolved through his time at Georgia Tech.

Ben has led both the creation and operations of organizations like Georgia Tech EXCEL & Best Buddies. He’s served in roles leading both recruitment and course curriculum, teaching courses in Current Events and Food for Life, and his passion lies in creating lifelong opportunities for independence.

Ben works for McKinsey & Company in the Atlanta office and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Georgia Tech in May 2017.  In his spare time, he loves running, being outdoors, exploring cities through food, and watching college and professional sports.
Nancy Vera
Advisor and Board Member at Large
Nancy Vara is a parent, a well-known advocate for the rights of individuals with disabilities, a frequent guest speaker at conferences and transition fairs throughout the state, and the former Executive Director of the Georgia Microboards Association.
  
Nancy became involved with the Georgia Microboards Association after her son Carmine transitioned out of the school system. Carmine and Friends was the first Microboard to incorporate in the state of Georgia.  A strong supporter of Participant-Directed Waiver Services, Nancy’s leadership, assistance, and hands-on support has helped improve the lives of people of all ages. Nancy was the first to coin a phrase which would become the motto of the Association, “We put people, behind people, who need people.”