2020-2021 NOPBC Board
Officers (two-year term ending in 2022)
President: Carlton Anne Cook Walker (Pennsylvania)
In addition to serving as president of the NOPBC, Carlton maintains a solo law practice in South Central Pennsylvania, holds certification as a teacher of students with visual and multiple impairments, and provides legal and educational advocacy services through BEAR (Blindness Education and Advocacy Resources).
Carlton was drawn to Braille instruction by the needs of her daughter, Anna Catherine. Carlton, Anna Catherine, and Stephen Walker have been proud members of the National Federation of the Blind since 2005, when they participated in an early childhood seminar and learned about the importance of Braille use and cane travel in the independence of a child with blindness/low vision. The support and guidance of fellow parents and blind adults have helped Stephen and Carlton advocate more effectively for Anna Catherine's educational needs and have contributed to her success. Currently, Anna Catherine receives excellent blindness skills training at the Louisiana Center for the Blind in Ruston, Louisiana, and she will begin her undergraduate studies at the Pennsylvania State University at University Park in August 2020.
Through presentations, articles, and direct advocacy, Carlton supports the creation and maintenance of inclusive environments in educational settings, employment venues, and the community in order to maximize the talents and skills of blind individuals of all ages. Using her experience as an attorney, as a teacher of blind students, as the parent of a young blind woman, and as a long-time active member of the National Federation of the Blind, feels privileged to have the opportunity to help others remove societal obstacles to success and help blind individuals live the lives they want.
Carlton is also active in her church and in her community in South Central Pennsylvania.
First Vice-president: Penny Duffy (New Hampshire)
Penny lives in New Hampshire with her two children, Sam (age 17) and Abby (15). 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 stroke 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 skiing in the winter and other sports in summer.She is a paralympic hopeful and is on her high school ski team. She attends 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 and grants. Penny has a strong passion for Braille literacy and strives every day to help both her children to "Live the life they want."
Second Vice-president: 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 woman 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 a board member, an 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)
Jackie Anderson (Georgia)
Jackie Anderson is a Teacher of Blind and Visually Impaired. She is the proud parent of five children, one of whom is blind. She enjoys working with parents and professionals of blind children.
Jackie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education and a Masters of Science in Special Education with an emphasis in teaching blind students and early intervention services. She has also begun working toward her Doctorate of Education in the area of Inclusive Education. Jackie was named the 2013 National Federation of the Blind Distinguished Educator.
Jackie is the founder of LetsConnecTVI Resources, a company that strives to support blind individuals, their family members, and professionals in the field of blindness through training, support, and planning. Some of you may have enjoyed one of her seminars or motivational presentations.
Growing up as a blind individual, raising a blind child as well as formal educational training allows Jackie to truly understand and speaks on the subject of blindness.
Sarah Erb (Utah)
Sarah lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. She and her spouse Steven and are parents to a spunky and inquisitive 6 year old, who is blind. Sarah has been learning the Braille code alongside her child, and is relishing the challenge to keep up with her first grader.
The Erbs joined the NFB when their child was a toddler, at the recommendation of the Early Intervention TVI, as they were seeking opportunities for their child to meet others with the lived experience as a blind individual. Because if their involvement in the NFB, Sarah feels their family has been has empowered with the knowledge of best practices of braille literacy, cane travel, and IEP advocacy.
Sarah’s most most memorable moments with her family have been exploring nature with their child, and observing how their child learns. They love reading together as a family, visiting please touch museums, and adventuring in nature as often as possible. Their favorite family trips recently have been visiting U.S. National Parks and the ocean.
Sarah looks forward to connecting with others within the ever-growing NFB family.
Jean Fultz (New York)
I am a very happy mother of three adult children and five grandchildren, one of whom is blind! As a result of being gifted with this incredibly different infant, and seeking knowledge and understanding of how to be her best helper and sidekick, I searched the internet for help.
From our very small village, in Northern NY, her mother and I found not a single doctor or organization who had any idea what we needed.
After digesting all I could find about her condition, ONH, I realized we needed More. How to......everything!
Finally, I found the NFB. Quickly, the NOPBC emerged from that find as the shining beacon of enlightenment I had been seeking!
Since then, our little gal has grown to a healthy, happy, successful 9+ year old, and much of that success has grown firmly on the foundation of the NOPBC, and the NFB.
We attended our first National Federation of the Blind convention and NFB conference in 2016. It was the most transformative event of Our relationship with all things blindness related. To say that magic happens, and it’s source- for blind kids is the NFB /NOPBC annual week-long event is nearly enough to express how we experienced it! We met dozens of people, including the Board of the NOPBC, of which I am now a very humble member.
That first conference-I asked to be “part of the solution “ - and was directed to the venerable Carol Castellano, then and now a Board Member. Attending her Parent Leadership Program, and soaking in all of the experiences and sessions of learning has changed my life.
I could not be more happy than to be a member of the Board of the NOPBC, the beginning of my dream to be part of the solution. To work with, and learn from, and grow this great community with my fellow Board members is an honor and privilege.
Moreover, to be a member of the NFB /NOPE family and to have my Gal grow up in the Federation is a gift for life .
We each strive to increase, enhance, and give shape, structure, and momentum to our individual and group strengths and creativity in order to continue to grow the NOPBC into the number one place to be for all people who are Parents of Blind Children.
Pamela Gebert (Alaska)
Pamela is a veteran 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 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 with her family in Anchorage, Alaska, where they enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including Nordic and alpine skiing, sledding, gardening, hiking, camping, and fishing. Pamela also serves as President of the Alaska Blind Children's Resources.
Carla Keirns (Missouri)
Carla Keirns lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband and 6-year-old son. Their baby boy was 14 weeks old when they learned he was blind due to albinism. They found their local NFB chapter and were assured that "your kids are our kids" and that the blind adults in their community would help Carla and Michael support their son to reach his potential. Carla is a physician and scholar of medical ethics and health policy and teaches at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She has become a fierce advocate for her son and other children who are blind and disabled, and serves on the Missouri Department of Education's Blind Task Force. Carla also works with the NFB of Missouri state chapter, and the Missouri Parents of Blind Children on advocacy and programming for children across the state. She and her son are learning Braille together, though like many blind children, he is quickly overtaking his mother and often helps her with Braille contractions.
Tabby Mitchell (Hawaii)
Michelle Murrey (Colorado)
Michelle Murrey and her daughter, Mikaela, live in Colorado. They were introduced to the NOPBC and NFB at a youth event when Mikaela was just a year old. When the NFB Texas President, Norma Crosby, said she 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 in kindergarten, she has already traveled to 12 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 families, she works for an international non-profit called Mercy Ships. Michelle lived on the hospital ship in West Africa for two years and worked as a photographer before moving back to the USA 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..
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.
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 B.A. in psychology and an M.S. 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.
Casey West Robertson (Mississippi)
Casey West Robertson lives in Mississippi with her husband Philip Robertson and their daughter Kylie Grace. Casey is a teacher of blind students and serves as an instructor for the Teacher of Blind Students Program at Louisiana Tech University.
Casey came to know the National Federation of the Blind when her niece (Imilie West) and nephew (Jackson West) were diagnosed as blind when they were just a few months old. Little did she know that later her own daughter would be diagnosed with vision loss due to mitochondrial disease.
Casey has received both the NFB Mississippi Distinguished Educator and the NFB National Distinguished Educator award. She advocated the state legislature in 2012 to gain a better Braille Bill to allow for better services for blind students. She currently advocates for parents and students across the nation to gain better services in schools. Casey has also been an expert witness in several due process cases.
When she is not working in the blindness field, Casey loves hanging out with family and the family’s three dogs, Molly, Fiona, and Buddy; two horses Patches and Ruby; and their one cat Rosie, aka snobby cat.
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 B.A. degree and works as a computer support specialist. He and his wife Emily have just had their first child.