Board of Directors


Debbie Dionne

Chairperson, Parent

Debbie re-joined the Independence Association (IA) Board of Directors with the goal of giving back to the IA community that is so important to her daughter. Deb is a member of the Finance/Executive Committee, Strategic Planning Committee, Family Advisory Council and Legislative Committee. Debbie graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington before beginning her 35 year career as a health teacher at Brunswick Junior High School.

Debbie’s adult daughter has been receiving services from Independence Association for 15 years and is now living her dream of independence with three roommates in an Independence Association group home, attends CommunityWorks and works for IA. Debbie and her husband, Dennis, enjoy their retirement, pursuing many shared activities and interests  


Charlie Frizzle


Charlie has over 20 years as an Independence Association Board Member. He currently serves on the Finance/Executive Committee. Education. Charlie studied electrical engineering in college, and received US Naval experience and training as a nuclear power plant operator. He is currently retired, and was President of Maine Yankee Atomic Power Co. Charlie serves on the board of directors to help assure the continuation of an organization that provides a vital service which is seldom understood by the general public and often underappreciated. In addition to Independence Association, Charlie is on the Board and is the Treasurer of People Plus; he is the Chairman of the Brunswick Planning Board, and he is on the Finance Committee and Medical Group Committee for Mid Coast Hospital.  



Tom Handel

Board Member

Tom has been the Executive Director of the Portland Media Center (formerly Community Television Network) in Portland, Maine since 1996.  Before that he was the Executive Director for ten years at Mobius, Inc. in Damariscotta, where he continues to serve as a volunteer.  Tom holds a bachelor’s degree from Colby College, did graduate study in film at Columbia University, and has a Master’s Degree in public policy and management from the Muskie School of Public Service. He lives in Portland. Tom has been involved with supporting people with disabilities throughout his life. Independence Association is a member of the Portland Media Center, which supports us with its professional offerings.


Dave Mc Cormack


Dave served 20 yrs in the Navy and retired as a Navy Chief in 1994. Dave is the proud father of three wonderful children, one of whom has been a resident at Independence Association for almost 10 years. Dave is an active outdoorsman and enjoys fishing and camping. Dave has been a resident of Harpswell for over 25 years. 


Richard A. Estabrook, Esq.

Vice Chairperson

Richard joined the Independence Association Board of Directors in October 2013. He currently serves on the Finance/Executive committee, Legislative Committee, Strategic Planning Committee, and Family Advisory Council. Richard is the former Chief Advocate of the Office of Advocacy, Maine Department of Health and Human Services, from 1985-2012. He was active in the enforcement of the Pineland Consent Decree, Community Consent Decree, and Augusta Mental Health Institution (AMHI) Consent Decree. Richard is a former board member of Community Mediation Services, Augusta, Maine, 1997-2003.  

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David Cowing


David worked for over 30 years as a special education teacher, administrator, and volunteer in Maine elementary, middle and high schools, as well as other community organizations.  Currently, he is conducting research on the challenges families experience while transitioning sons and daughters with intellectual disabilities from high school to community-based services. David lives in Woolwich with his wife, Judith Stafford.  Their son, Jay, is served by several Independence Association programs.

David has been involved in a number of parent and professional groups over the years that have focused on helping families understand how to access services for transitioning sons and daughters with intellectual and developmental disabilities. David firmly believes that the best way he can continue to support his son is to fully understand and help support the system and organizations that provide supports for him.


Brett Bulmer

Board Member

Originally from Maine, Brett Bulmer attended high school and college in Indiana. He returned to Maine after completing his Bachelor’s degree and began his career in the field of Intellectual Disabilities at Choices Are For Everyone (CAFE) in Westbrook. His responsibilities there, over 17 years, have spanned direct support, program coordination, and PCP coordination; he now serves as CAFE’s Human Resource Manager. Brett has served more than 10 years as a Volunteer Correspondent through the Maine Developmental Services Oversight and Advisory Board, formerly the Consumer Advisory Board.  He lives in Gardiner and has two children.  


Dave Eldridge

Board Member

Dave is Regional Vice President of Kennebec Savings Bank. He has spent nearly 20 years in banking. Born and raised in Downeast Maine, Dave worked 16 years in banking before spending two years as the Director of Finance at Washington Academy, a small semi-private school in East Machias. In 2011, Dave accepted a position with Androscoggin Bank and moved his family to Bowdoin where he lives with his wife of more than 25 years, Donna, two daughters and a son. Dave became involved with Independence Association (IA) when IA was considering social enterprise strategies to supplement government funding. He had previously supported Washington County Association for Retarded Citizens in their “for profit” venture into Dunkin Donuts franchises.