2018-2019 NOPBC Board
Officers (two year term thru 2020)
President: Carlton Anne Cook Walker (Pennsylvania)
First Vice President: Penny Duffy (New Hampshire)
Penny lives in New Hampshire with her two children, Sam (age 16) and Abby (14). Abby became blind at age 6 due to a rare genetic mitochondrial condition. Penny found the NFB and NOPBC a few months later in late 2010. "Finding the NFB was a great stoke of luck. Choosing to stay and raise my daughter with the NFB philosophy is one of the best parenting decisions I have made," she notes. Abby is an active girl enjoys ski in the winter and rowing in summer. She attend local general public high school and is a braille reader.Penny is president of the NH Parents of Blind Children and also on the National Federation of the Blind-New Hampshire 's board of directors. She has recently started working in the public education sector in finance. Penny has a strong passion for Braille literacy and striving everyday to help both her children to "Live the life they want."
Second Kimberly Banks (Florida)
Kimberly attended school at Southern Polytechnic State University where she majored in civil engineering and land surveying and minored in construction management. She is the mother of an independent, intelligent and kind young women who happens to be blind and a clever, hilarious and loving son with ASD.
Kimberly is the Vice President of Florida Parents of Blind Children and former president of the Georgia Organization of Parents of Blind Children. Since 2012, she has acted as an IEP advocate for other families of blind children as well as occasionally advocated for blind students and parents. Kimberly assisted in the organization and program implementation of “Parent Connect”, a monthly workshop that trained parents and teachers on the implementation of the Expanded Core Curriculum at home and in the classroom while simultaneously exposing blind children to non visual skills training through fun extracurricular activities.
In 2018, after Kimberly’s daughter suffered through several years of receiving inaccessible materials and subpar services from their school district the family filed due process on behalf of their daughter with the support of the NFB. After contentious litigation the family prevailed and received a fully favorable ruling in their daughter’s case.
Kimberly continues to work to spread the philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind, and believes that future independence for blind children is made possible by increased literacy, inclusiveness and accessibility.
Secretary: Carol Castellano (New Jersey)
Carol and husband Bill Cucco are the parents of a now-adult blind daughter, Serena. Carol feels very fortunate to have found the NFB while Serena was still a baby. Federation philosophy taught the family about the skills of blindness and enabled her and Bill to bring Serena up with high expectations. Carol has served the NOPBC since 1991 in many capacities--as board member, executive officer, president, and Director of Programs. She is also co-founder and long-time president of Parents of Blind Children-NJ.
Carol writes articles and makes presentations in states across the country on the education and development of blind children. She is the author of four books, The Bridge to Braille: Reading and School Success for the Young Blind Child; Because Books Matter; Making It Work: Educating the Blind/Visually Impaired Student in the Regular School; and Getting Ready for College Begins in Third Grade: Working Toward an Independent Future for Your Young Blind Child. Her fifth book, Now It’s the Big Time: College Preparation for the Blind/Visually Impaired High School Student, is underway. Carol's family enjoys hiking, traveling, and vacations at the Jersey shore.
Treasurer: Sandra Oliver (Texas) (email Sandra.firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sandra is a wife and mother to three smart and beautiful boys aged 11, 10 and 7, with youngest son, Nick, born totally blind. Nick has grown up going to NFB Conventions and attending BELL programs since he was 3, and is a smart, strong Braille reader and independent young man
Board Members (one year term)
Jean Bening (Minnesota)
Jean lives in Arlington, Minnesota with her husband Allan. They have one daughter, Megan, who recently graduated with her bachelor degree in Information Technology and a minor in Psychology. Megan is continuing college to earn her masters degree in IT. Megan lives independently in an apartment off campus. When Megan was diagnosed with LCA at 6 months old, they did not know anyone who was blind. They got involved with the NFB/NOPBC when Megan was 6 years old. Jean notes she became a board member of the NOPBC so she could be a resource for parents of blind children, to share what they have learned in the 22 years of raising their daughter, and to reassure parents that their blind children can grow up to be independent, successful adults. The Megan Bening Memoral Fund.
Pamela Gebert (Alaska)
Pamela is veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. Pamela worked for the Army Medical Department. Pamela has three children: a son in high school, a high school-aged daughter and a son in the middle school. Her middle child, Julia, is a cane user and Braille reader. Her blindness is caused by an optic pathway glioma tumor. Pamela lives in Anchorage, Alaska where they enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including Nordic and alpine skiing, sledding, gardening, hiking, camping and fishing. Pamela is President of the Alaska Blind Children's Resource.
Corbb O’Connor (Minnesota)
Corbb O’Connor is an adventure-seeker, husband and father who came to know the life-giving message of the National Federation of the Blind through its college scholarship program. He’s held many roles in the Federation, including chapter president, committee chairperson, mentor, and friend. After graduating from The George Washington University in 2010, he attended the Louisiana Center for the Blind, a residential program where blind adults learn to non-visually travel, read, cook, and use technology. Following in his parents' careers, he started his own business—O’Consulting Group, LLC—which helps small businesses and non-profits write better to connect with their members and customers. Today, he works for one of the most trusted banks in the United States, where he helps build digital tools that are accessible for people with disabilities. He is married to Briley, whom he met at LCB; lives in Minneapolis; and has one son, Silas. Briley and Corbb are still trying to find their way back to Sandals Resort in Jamaica.
Tabatha Mitchell (Virgina)
Jean Fulz (New York)
Michelle Murrary (Texas)
Michelle Murrey and her daughter, Mikaela, live in Texas. They were introduced to the NOPBC and NFB at a youth event when Mikaela was just a year old. When Kim Cunningham and Norma Crosby said they had high expectations for Mikaela, Michelle immediately felt like they had found a great community of support. Michelle and Mikaela love going on adventures. Though Mikaela is only 3 years old, she has already traveled to ten states. Mikaela loves the journey as much as arriving at the destination. The NFB convention is one of the highlights of each year. When Michelle is not advocating for Mikaela and other Texas families, she works for an international non-profit called Mercy Ships. Michelle lived on the ship in West Africa for two years and worked as a photographer before moving back to Texas to join the staff at the international headquarters. But Michelle hasn’t put away her passport forever. Michelle hopes to take Mikaela on her first international trip by Mikaela’s 10th birthday..
Hailey Alli (Georgia)
Rosina Foster (Missouri)
Carol Akers (Ohio)
Melissa Riccobono (Maryland)
Melissa has been blind since birth, due to LCA. Melissa was very lucky to have parents who were firm believers that she and her older sister, who is also blind, could and would live the lives they wanted. Melissa and her sister were expected to do the same things as their sighted brothers while growing up, and Melissa is extremely grateful to her parents for their high expectations, and all of the skills they made sure she learned before she went away to college.
Melissa earned a BA in psychology and a MS in Counseling Psychology, with an emphasis in school counseling, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She joined the National Federation of the Blind while she was a college student, and has held many leadership positions in the organization over the last 18 years. After college, Melissa worked for three years as an elementary school counselor in a public school outside of Baltimore. She left her position in order to be a stay at home mom.
Melissa and her husband, Mark Riccobono (president of the National Federation of the Blind) are the proud parents of three children. Austin is sighted, and going into fourth grade. Oriana is a first grader, and Elizabeth is a student in pre-K. Both Oriana and Elizabeth are blind.
Melissa has advocated for parents and their blind children for years, but the experience is quite different when the blind children in question are hers. She is learning a great deal about navigating the educational system, encouraging a reluctant braille reader, and helping her children become experienced cane travelers—a skill she did not feel completely comfortable with until adulthood. Melissa is honored to serve as president of the Maryland Parents of Blind Children, and as a board member of NOPBC. She looks forward to being able to help parents in any way she can by drawing from her own experiences as a blind child and adult, and from her more recent experiences as a mom of two blind children. Melissa also looks forward to learning from all of the families with blind children around the country. She believes everyone has something to learn and something to teach, and this is one of her favorite aspects of participating in the National Federation of the Blind.
President Emerita: Barbara Cheadle (Maryland)
Barbara Cheadle, President Emerita, is one of the founders of the NOPBC and is the founding editor of Future Reflections magazine. Barbara, who served as NOPBC President for 23 years, also worked for many years at the NFB's National Center for the Blind in Baltimore, where she directed children's programs and served in many other capacities. Barbara and her husband John's fight to get Braille instruction for their son Chaz (who has partial vision) was widely publicized in the early 90's and was one of the factors that turned the tide in the campaign for a Braille literacy provision in the 1997 IDEA amendments. Chaz earned a BA degree and works as a computer support specialist. He and his wife Emily have just had their first child.