In 2013, White Apple Institute (WAI) was granted nonprofit status as a  501 (C) (3) by the Internal Revenue Service and Certified as a  Veteran-operated organization. WAI was formerly known as White Apple  Training & Education Center, a private consultation firm in 1983. Founder Danita Applewhite, PhD, CRC, a Woman Veteran, developed the organization in response to the overwhelming  requests of educators, counselors, and employers who wanted to bring  awareness to the many challenges facing "underserved",  "nontraditional" higher education students who were also working parents managing one or more of the silenced disabilities (e.g. mental, learning, chronic pain/stress, non-visible, as well as  physical). The increasing rates of  in higher education, student loan defaults, costly

 dropping out from school, work, and life!  many who suicidal thoughts and deaths by suicide for. The major concerns were how to prevent increasing rates of absenteeism,   The WAI staff composed of volunteer students, veterans and their supporters, with the help of "disability and veteran friendly" schools, companies, veteran service agencies, and faith-based organizations, continue restoring  hope in those striving to help themselves succeed in the workplace, and be recognized as contributing and productive citizens in their community.and White Apple Wisdom-A Self-Rehabilitation Program (c)




Dr. Danita Applewhite (aka “Professor or Doc Apple”) is recognized as one of the leading experts in the fields of Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling, Independent Living and Education. She is a Disability Advocate, Host of the ASK Dr. Applewhite Talk Show,  Army Veteran, Speaker, Author, Retired Psychology Professor and Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. Dr. Applewhite is an alumni of Chapman University and the University of Arizona (Magna Cum Laude and Chi Sigma Iota); she completed doctoral coursework at Capella, and finished her PhD in Psychology at Concordia College and University. For over 40 years, she remains dedicated to improving school and work performance for fellow Veterans, Nontraditional Adult Learners/Students and Employees with disabilities (e.g. mental, learning, non-visible disabilities). Dr. Applewhite is appointed by the Governor to serve on the Arizona Statewide Independent Living Council and the Arizona State Rehabilitation Council. She also serves on the Veterans Medical Leadership Council, the Women’s Army Corp Veterans Association, and is a Lifetime Member of Disabled American Veterans and Paralyzed Veterans of America.

She founded the White Apple Institute (formerly White Apple Training and Education Center) as a private practice in 1983 and it became a Veteran operated non-profit 501 c (3) in 2013. Her purpose continues to focus on CONNECTING or reconnecting Students; EDUCATING them on self-advocacy for accommodations at school and in the workplace; and SUPPORTING them with Mentorships and Sponsorships to ensure emotional and financial stability to reach their goals for workforce success. The unique methods implemented by White Apple Institute has helped thousands of Veterans and Non-Veterans prevent dropout and burnout from school, work and a quality life. Her mission is supported by a wonderful team of differently-abled Veterans and Non-Veterans who volunteer their time, skills, and passion to help others.

She is also the Host of the“ASK Dr. Applewhite Talk Show. The show provides information and inspirational stories on a variety of subjects related to the cultural, psychological and social impact of disability; and emotional challenges on school and work performance. Many recognized educators, employers,  health care professionals, celebrities and motivational speakers join her show to share valuable information for recruiting, retaining and recognizing nontraditional students and employees with disability (i.e. learning, mental and nonvisible). All talk shows are produced and promoted by members of the Differently-Abled Network (DAN). The DAN is the community outreach program of WAI. It is composed of educators, employers, members of faith-based oranizations, and concerned neighbors who partner with her to identify,  restore hope and provide resources to Unserved and Underserved Adults, Students, and Veterans with Disability in their community.   She places great emphasis on recognizing those striving to help themselves succeed as contributing and productive citizens. She takes her mission and messages into the street and onto the Internet to encourage the vision statement of White Apple Institute. 

Dr. Applewhite is a frequent Speaker and Consultant at “Disability and Veteran-Friendly” educational institutions and companies. She is most effective with her clientele because of her own recovery from cancer and a near fatal car accident, resulting in her being wheelchair-bound and adapting to chronic pain. This journey has inspired her to help others change the perception of “disabled to differently-abled” and to recognize that everyone, regardless of the severity of our disabilities, is capable of being a “student and teacher”! She has written "White Apple Wisdom, the Ask Dr. Applewhite Self-Rehabilitation Program" (pending publication) as a compilation of counseling and self-help techniques she has implemented in her speeches and talk shows. 

A significant portion of her time, for over forty years is spent supporting local and international efforts (i.e. Disabled Rights International, World Health Organization) to encourage community outreach and workforce development projects for underserved persons with disability in disadvantaged communities around the world. . In her spare time, she enjoys traveling with her family, including five grandsons, and sitting in her Serenity Garden at home in Mesa, Arizona. She also remains in love with Jim Richardson, her deceased significant other she credits with motivating her through her own self-rehabilitation. Doc Apple also enjoys jazz, swimming, and playing chess, Scrabble and poker games.


We are restructuring and nominating new members. Please submit letter of interest with resume to

Kim Owens-Hamilton, BA

Ms. Owens serves as Vice President of the board. She is the Owner and Operator of several residential facilities in the State of California for persons with mental disabilities. Ms. Owens possesses an extensive background in social services,  group home operations, and administration of residential facilities for dual-diagnosed. She is a graduate of Ohio State University and has extensive skills in working with disadvantaged families.

Tom Baker, BA

Tom is Vice-Chair of the Professional Advisory Committee (PAC) . He communicates with employers, Disability Resource Centers at colleges and other higher education schools to identify "underserved" students, employees, and veterans with visible and Non-visible disability. Tom completed his Associates Degree in Business at Mesa Community College and graduated from ASU with a Bachelor in Science degree in Psychology. Tom learned how to advocate to obtain his education after a major car accident and consequent paralysis. He played competitive wheelchair basketball for over ten years and was selected as an All-Star. He also competed in paralympic swimming and won two Bronze Medals. Tom encourages Adult Learners with physical and mental disabilities to overcome their fear and embarrassment when asking for accommodations. He inspires them to get involved with Disabled Student Resources on their college campus and learn how to advocate for accommodations.

Rev. Julian Lewis 

Rev "J" serves on our Professional Advisory Council of White Apple Institute, as a Speaker and Consultant for interfaith outreach efforts. She is an Ordained Minister of an inclusive Metaphysical UNITY Church in Mesa. She shares the ministry with her husband Rev. Manny Aroz and a host of well-trained chaplains. Rev. Julianne is the first Sponsor of a Faith-based organization to welcome White Apple Institute's community outreach program, the  Differently-Abled Network (DAN) meetings. She understands the needs of Persons with Disability, especially veterans who are socially isolated and encourages other FBO's to book DAN meetings.  

Beverly Poellnitz, EdD

Dr. Poellnitz serves on the Professional Advisory Committee and previously served as a board member . She is an Adjunct Instructor  at Estrella Mountain Community College in Arizona. She graduated with a doctorate in Education from Arizona State University and maintains a private practice as a Professional Storyteller and Wellness Educator. Her experience and skills as a successful Entrepreneur has gained her recognition in the Business Education community. She has helped hundreds of disadvantaged students reach their work and school goals.

Nazim Rashid

Serves on the Professional Advisory Committee and previously served as a board member who has served the community as a counselor in the fields of mental health, substance abuse and for persons previously incarcerated. He has served as a Trainer, Educational Consultant, and Teacher for severely disturbed adolescents, autistic children and adults and teaches private music lessons. He currently serves as a Life Coach, Author of “Reconnected: How To Be A Mentor To Your Child-Self”, Personal Development Specialist and host of “Reconnected” Radio Show.
Hear his CD “Remembrance” at:

Melodie Oscay

Melodie  is a trained Mentor and coordinates volunteer activities for the Differently-Abled Network. She also serves as co-producer of the ASK Dr. Applewhite Talk Show. Melodie is a student intern attending Southwest Institute of Healing Arts and shares exercises in Mindfulness to reduce stress related to school, work, time and family management. 

Dave Thigpen

Mr. Thigpen serves on our Professional Advisory Council of White Apple Institute, as a Speaker and Consultant. He is an Army Veteran-101st Rangers who wants to give back and pay it forward. A native of Tennesse with a soft heart and voice until the Seargent senses injustices to any one, especially disabled veterans. He volunteers at M D Anderson Cancer Center encouraging fellow veterans and non-veterans, to adapt as he has, to being a cancer survivor. Dave lives with his wife Vickie in Mesa, AZ and has successfully raised children that now live in various parts of the world.

Other members of the Professional Advisory Council of White Apple Institute

Doug Reynolds