A Message from the President JPMorgan Chase/ACB Leadership Fellows Class of 2017

by Kim Charlson

As ACB approaches its 56th annual conference and convention, we are continuing to place more emphasis as an organization on investing in the development of new leadership talent for the future. A special second year grant from JPMorgan Chase (JPMC) is allowing ACB to continue to offer a program which will bring five ACB members with recognized leadership potential to the July 2017 national conference and convention in Reno, Nev.
These individuals needed to satisfy three basic criteria — be 18 years of age or older; be blind or visually impaired; and be members in good standing of ACB. Each applicant had to be recommended by the president of their respective affiliate. The application process for the JPMC/ACB Leadership Fellows included the submission of a written essay stating why the applicant felt they should be considered for this award, two letters of recommendation, and participation in a telephone screening interview with the DKM Committee.
Factors considered in the selection process included the applicant’s reasons for applying for the leadership award; a brief summary of the applicant’s education and relevant experience; number of years of membership in ACB as well as previous conventions attended, if any; description of one’s role as a leader; and an assessment of what one feels they bring to ACB.
All award recipients receive round-trip transportation; hotel accommodation (double occupancy), per diem stipend for meals and incidentals, convention registration fee and reception and banquet tickets. Recipients are expected to attend the convention from the opening session Saturday evening, July 1, through the Thursday evening banquet, July 6, and to participate actively in all convention activities including the daily general sessions, special-interest presentations, seminars and workshops.
I want to congratulate all of these talented individuals and thank them for the contributions they have already made, and for the many more important things I know all of them will do in the future. Thank you also to JPMorgan Chase for its ongoing support of ACB!
Introducing the Class of 2017 JPMorgan Chase /ACB Leadership Fellows:
Anthony Akamine, Honolulu, HI
Anthony graduated from Kapiolani Community College in 1994 with his associate’s degree in sales and marketing, and a certificate in marketing and human relations. He holds an extra class amateur radio license. He served as the president of the student congress at Kapiolani Community College, and he served in a variety of leadership roles on the Disability and Communication Access Board (DCAB). Currently, he is a core team member of John 17:21, which is a resource ministry that advises churches on how faith-based groups can become more inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities. Since becoming a Hawaii Association of the Blind member, he serves as the HAB representative for the City Citizen’s Advisory Group to the Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization. Anthony is also a member of the Hawaii Association of Blind Students, HAB Parents of Blind Children, and a supporter of Maui’s Keiki Parents of Visually Impaired Children group.
Lori Allison, Tacoma, WA
Once she got involved with ACB and WCB, Lori was elected president of her local chapter for seven years. Lori served two terms on the WCB board; chaired the membership committee, WCB convention committee, and she currently chairs the Families with Blind Children Committee. Lori obtained her associate’s degree as a medical office assistant, with certificates in medical billing and medical transcription. She was honored in 2010 as the Tacoma Area Disability Advocate of the Year.
Sarah Harris, Fresno, CA
In November of 2002, Sarah’s life was changed forever when she was involved in a major car accident. She lost her vision in a split second. One year later, she welcomed her daughter, Carson, into the world and she had a new and important purpose. She spent the next few years focusing on being a mother and learning how to live as a blind person in a sighted world. She started volunteering at Valley Center for the Blind in Fresno, and in 2014, was introduced to the California Council of the Blind. Later that year, she was elected as local chapter vice president. She has served as fund-raising committee chair, done outreach presentations in the community, organized White Cane Day awareness events, and has become an advocate on the local level.  Last August, Sarah was appointed to the Transportation Sub-Committee for the Disability Advisory Commission for the city of Fresno, and this year, she became the president of CCB’s Fresno chapter.
Daisy Russell, Melrose, MA
Daisy is a sophomore at Wheelock College in Boston, working toward a double major in educational studies and humanities literature with a minor in writing. In May, she traveled with her college to Nicaragua for a service learning trip to assist with education and literacy opportunities for children there, and to gain more real world experience and investigate the Peace Corps as a possibility after college. Daisy currently participates in Wheelock Student Theater as a member and secretary, and is presently helping to form “Voiceability,” an advocacy, awareness, and support group for students with disabilities and their allies on campus. Daisy has been a member of ACB since the age of 15, and she was one of the founding members of the student chapter of the Bay State Council of the Blind; she currently serves as their president.
Michelle Zentz, Fargo, ND
Michelle is a graduate of North Dakota State University where she received a bachelor of science in human development and education, majoring in child development and family science, and she worked part-time as an accessibility consultant for NDSU’s Information Technology Department. She has been a member of the North Dakota Association of the Blind (NDAB) and ACB for the past 20 years. In 2016, Michelle received the NDAB Edwin Christensen Award, where her 11 years of board service (including as president and past president) were recognized. She has worked for 7 years with the NDAB Family Adjustment Seminar, been an instructor at summer camp and is active in the Ski for Light program. Michelle participates in NDAB’s fundraising efforts, is a member of the constitution and bylaws committee, and serves as the current chairperson of the NDAB nominating committee. In her community, she provides information and referral services, operates the suicide prevention hotline, and serves on her local independent living center board as the vice president.