We are pleased to present to you the Class of 2023 DKM First-Timers who have met all requirements to be considered for and selected as recipients of this prestigious honor.
While honoring the legacy of ACB’s founding father, Durward K. McDaniel, since 1996, the Durward K. McDaniel (DKM) Fund Committee seeks to identify and honor two ACB members who demonstrate leadership potential with the DKM First-Timers award on an annual basis, one from east and one from west of the Mississippi River.
To be considered for the award, interested members must meet the following criteria:
- Age 18 or older
- Blind or visually impaired
- A member in good standing (current on membership dues)
- Never attended an in-person ACB conference and convention
- Agree to attend the entire convention
- Participate in daily general sessions and designated leadership related sessions
- Applicants also undergo a 30-minute interview with members of the DKM committee
To apply for this award, applicants must complete an application form and have a state or special-interest affiliate president submit a letter of recommendation by the announced deadline.
Recipients are selected in late April and are recognized during the opening general session of the ACB Conference and Convention and honored during the annual DKM First-Timers Reception. Be sure to include us in your plans as you register for the convention. The 2023 DKM First-Timers Reception will be held from 5:30PM-6:45PM Central on Wednesday July 5, 2023.
Recipients receive amenities, such as complimentary registration fee, travel expenses, lodging (double occupancy), tickets to attend the DKM First-Timers Reception, ACB Banquet, other special events and a stipend for incidentals.
Introducing the Class of 2023 DKM First-Timers!
Janae Miller resides in Columbus, Ohio and she represents the East as a 2023 DKM First-Timer. She joined the ACB of Ohio affiliate as a college student while at Wright State University. She then stepped away for a while and has recently returned and is currently an active, involved and engaged member. She serves on the statewide legislative committee and has participated in the virtual and in-person DC Leadership Conference and represented the affiliate at legislative meetings with congressional officials.
Janae is the current president of the Columbus Ohio Chapter - the largest in the state. She loves music and the arts and has sung both professionally and nonprofessionally.
In her community she is an active member and volunteer of the Harmony Project, a Columbus nonprofit organization where people can embrace their differences and build social harmony.
Her degree in the field of communication studies and minor in sociology with a focus in the area of social change has led her to set a life goal to make the world a better place for all disabled and especially the blind and hearing impaired. She created Sight Unseen, a disability inclusion consulting and training company through which she uses her lived experiences to provide advice to companies and businesses regarding the power of disability inclusion. As a certified Windmills Trainer, she is equipped to empower employment professionals to become more inclusive of individuals with disabilities in the workplace.
Gema Ceniceros resides in El Paso, Texas and she represents the West as a 2023 DKM First-Timer. She is a member of the American Council of the Blind of Texas (ACBT) and also an active member of the El Paso Council of the Blind and currently serves as secretary of that ACBT chapter.
Gema was born and raised in Mexico. She came to the United States with her husband and three young children prior to losing her vision. She faced great challenges while adjusting to both blindness and living in a new country. She struggled until she learned about and received valuable education and training at the Cris Cole Rehabilitation Center in Austin.
She is extremely grateful for the life-changing blindness skills she obtained and is highly motivated to share her story and information about services so others experiencing vision loss will not go through as many struggles as she did.
She now eagerly teaches Braille to others in her chapter and Sunday School to children and adults at her church. Having learned English and obtained her GED, she pursued additional training and earned certification as a medical interpreter from the University of Texas at El Paso.
Her successes have given Gema hope and the courage to dream. Her goal is to convey to others the feeling of overcoming that she now feels and let them know that the world does not end with sight loss and that life is still beautiful. We just need to learn to see it differently. She plans to continue her education at the University of Texas at El Paso and earn a degree that will enable her to serve people with disabilities in a bigger way.
Join us in congratulating Janae Miller and Gema Ceniceros as the ACB DKM First Times for 2023!