A screen grab of a group of BLDP fellows and mentors on a Zoom call during the virtual graduation ceremony.

Since launching the Blind Leaders Development Program in 2020, we at the American Foundation for the Blind are pleased to have made great strides forward despite the unprecedented challenges of the last year and a half. The inaugural cohort not only successfully navigated the launch of a fledgling program, but did so during the tumultuous period of lockdowns and restrictions during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a testament to the professional drive and commitment of these graduating fellows and their mentors that they superbly executed the rigors of the program, and are rightfully earning recognition.

Sherry Pablo was a recent guest on AFB’s Inform & Connect podcast, where she shared her professional journey, the importance of self-advocacy, and other anecdotes. Podcast host Melody Goodspeed also served as her mentor in the Blind Leaders Development Program, and their organic rapport and insightful yet relaxed conversation illustrates the connection they forged. Listen to the podcast.

Andrew Worley was interviewed in the Summer 2021 issue of FOCUS, where he described the program as “a breath of fresh air when I didn’t realize how long I’d been holding my breath.” He works at a middle school in development and events after teaching music there for six years. Read more about Andrew.

Rebecca Arrowood was recently profiled by her hometown paper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, about her professional journey as a blind HR generalist, as well as her background in mental health counseling, her sight loss, and her love of running. Read the story: “This Wauwatosa woman is visually impaired. She's not letting that stop her from getting others like her into the workforce.”. [Editor’s note: Subscription required.]

Rebecca’s graduation news was also featured in Patch; several of her fellow graduates also received regional media coverage:

Monroe resident graduates from Blind Leaders Development Program (Alexandra Brown), Union County Weekly

Alexandria Resident Irwin Ramirez Graduates From Blind Leaders Development Program (Irwin Ramirez), The Zebra

St. Ann Resident Graduates from Blind Leaders Development Program (Henry Allen), St. Louis Post-Dispatch

It is AFB’s goal over the next several years to see more blind professionals in positions of leadership and professional advancement in their careers, and we are proud to announce that applications are now open for the next Blind Leaders Development Program cohort, dubbed the Centennial Cohort in light of AFB’s 100 year anniversary.

The application process begins with reading and understanding the expectations and commitments of participating in the AFB Blind Leaders Development Program as a Fellow or a Mentor, depending on your experience and accomplishments. The application deadline is August 22, 2021.

Apply today!