Jackie Fliss has a simple management philosophy. 

"I aim to gather talented, caring people and give them the tools, the direction and timelines they need to do their jobs," Fliss said.

And with that, Fliss, chief executive officer of Independent Living Services Inc., has helped the organization grow.

ILS, founded in 1970, is a private organization in Faulkner County whose mission is to assist persons with intellectual disabilities by teaching skills and providing housing and other opportunities to help them live independently. Bobby M. Kelly III, director of development at ILS, said since Fliss became executive director nine years ago, ILS has grown from 80 consumers and 70 employees to 237 consumers with 350 employees.  

"Because of her, ILS has grown so much and has handled that growth with such skill that our program has thrived," Kelly said. 

Doug Ward, whose wife works for ILS, was one of the people who has taken notice of Fliss’ efforts. 

"The service that they provide for their clients is so great and great for the community as well," Ward said. 

According to Fliss, gross revenue has gone from $2.16 million to $6.382 million.  

"In 2000, our adult day program was in a 2,000-square-foot facility serving 30 consumers," Fliss said. "Today, we provide hot lunches, programs in art, music and beginning computing, physical therapy, speech therapy and transportation for 120 consumers in a 12,000-square-foot facility." 

ILS provides services for 160 consumers who live independently in the community under the waiver program. 

"Our recycling program at another location hires consumers to shred confidential documents for businesses in Central Arkansas," Fliss said. 

Under Fliss’s guidance, ILS has also included construction of two apartment complexes built and occupied, fulfilling requirements of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the state Department of Human Services in cooperation with the City of Conway on land provided by Conway Human Development Center.  

"In 2008, we became the smallest agency in the state to be accredited by the national Council on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities," a yearlong process that evaluated every facet of the agency’s operation, Fliss said.  

Fliss and her husband, Larry, have two sons, Carter and Jackson, both students at the University of Central Arkansas.  

She was recently named as a finalist for Arkansas’s Nonprofit Executive of the Year, an annual award given by Arkansas Business magazine.  

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at courtney.spradlin@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)