Meet Our Team

Janet Sharkis

Executive Director

Janet Sharkis, MS, LPC, serves as Executive Director of the Texas State Independent Living Council. Her experience includes public policy, corporate training, fundraising, marketing, consulting, research and advocacy. Her diverse background spans nonprofit, government, and corporate sectors.

Inspired by childhood experiences, Janet’s passion for supporting people to reach their potential has been the driving force of her life. She launched this journey by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in special education and a master’s degree in counseling. She is licensed as a professional counselor. To strengthen her business savvy, she studied at Columbia University, Graduate School of Business, where she earned her Executive MBA focused on Executive Nonprofit Management.

Janet’s background includes significant contributions as a principal investigator at the Texas Center for Disability Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, and as executive director at the Texas Office for Prevention. Additional roles she has held in include special education teacher, development director, coalition director, and program director. She has been immensely grateful for multiple opportunities to mobilize consumers and stakeholders to join together in building inclusive policies and practices that honor the rights of people with disabilities to chart their own path and define the lives they seek.

A resident of Austin, she is privileged to serve on the board of Mission Capital and volunteer at Any Baby Can. She has the joy of sharing her life with two daughters, grandson, a life partner, and many friends. Amazingly, they inspire her, make her laugh and smile, and keep her grounded, all at the same time. Additionally, fitness is a passion of hers as is serving her demanding pets

Jennifer Whitcomb

Director of Finance

Jennifer Whitcomb is the Director of Finance for the Texas State Independent Living Council. She has been involved with the Independent Living movement since 1995. She graduated with a Master of Public Administration degree from Texas State University as a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, a Master in Rehabilitation Counseling from San Diego State University and a bachelor’s in physical education from California State University, Fullerton.

Along with Jennifer’s extensive background in working with the financial aspect of nonprofits receiving multiple government funding, she has also worked with community advocates in several key legislative initiatives, including promoting access to mental health services for the deaf and hard of hearing community, long term care services, the establishment of the Telecommunication Equipment Distribution Program, securing state appropriated funds to open a Center for Independent Living in rural areas, and the right to choose personal care attendants. Her agencies received awards for outstanding services.

Jennifer is also the Secretary of the Rotary Club of San Marcos and has been a Rotarian for several years. She became a Paul Harris Fellow plus one in July 2023. She participates in many community projects addressing hunger, human trafficking, and literacy. Jennifer has had immeasurable service work on nonprofit boards and councils targeting special interest groups.

Jennifer resides in San Marcos, Texas and has a daughter attending the University of Nevada, Reno. When asked about her hobbies, she says her favorite hobby is community service. She also swims and enjoys live entertainment in the parks.

Sarah Gernsbacher

Director of Programs

Sarah Gernsbacher serves as the Director of Programs at Texas State Independent Living Council. Sarah has over six years of experience working in disability advocacy in various settings. Prior to her work with the Texas State Independent Living Council, she served in the Peace Corps as a Youth and Community Development Coordinator working in rural Morocco. Sarah is passionate about facilitating collaborative and community-driven projects that further the Independent Living Philosophy.

She was born and raised in Austin, Texas, and graduated from Texas State University with a degree in communication studies. Sarah has advanced training in grant guidance and has most recently completed the project management certification program through the University of Texas at Austin.

Pamela Clark

Pamela Clark, M.S.

Project Specialist

Mrs. Pamela Clark is married to Reginald Clark Sr., and they have three beautiful young adults currently in college: Shacira, Reggie Jr., and Will. She has worked as a professional in Case Management for over twenty-eight years in different capacities, such as: System Navigator, Case Manager in HCS and TxHmL, Counselor with the contracting office of HHSC as a Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist, as an Administrative Navigator with Community Health Core, and as Manager at Fort Bend Centers for Independent Living.

She also had a historical Board placement with the gubernatorial office of Governor G. Abbott with the State Independent Living Council as a former Board Member. She is currently a Public Health Project Specialist for the Texas SILC and is an adjunct professor at University of the People.

She is also a doctoral candidate in Human Services, focusing on promoting individuals with disabilities pursuing higher education.

“My compassion for working with individuals with disabilities in various communities and gaining access to universal needs provides a sense of purpose for me and hope for others to respect individuality within the parameters in which individuals with disabilities choose to live.”