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California Council of the Blind
2017 Board of Directors Candidates



A Note from the President



At our Annual 2017 Conference and Convention, CCB members will elect a 2nd vice-president, secretary, and five Board Members!

Candidates were given the opportunity to respond to a list of four questions for the Candidate's Page, as one means of providing you, the membership with information about those seeking office. We received five responses, one for 2nd vice-president and four for board of director positions. I want to thank those who took the time to respond.

I hope that you enjoy the Candidate's Page. If you require an alternate format of this candidate information, please contact the CCB Office with your request.

Remember that there will be additional opportunities to learn about the candidates at the Candidates Forum during the first general session on Friday afternoon, April 7, at the 2017 Conference and Convention.


Judy Wilkinson, President
California Council of the Blind



Second Vice President


Gabe Griffith


1. What office are you seeking, and what are your qualifications?


I am seeking the office of 2nd Vice President. I have been a CCB member in one way shape or form for almost 20 years, over half of that as a member of the CCB board of directors in one capacity or another. I served for several years as a director and then several years as board Secretary. I have also served as president or in other offices for various affiliates and chapters. I believe all of these experiences give me the understanding and knowledge to assist in the running of CCB and supporting our President and CEO.


2. What contributions have you made to CCB in the last year?


I chair or co-chair several CCB committees. I have assisted in rewriting various articles of the constitution and am currently helping to look at what sections need further work. I have assisted with resolutions and have helped to organize the streaming of the 2017 conference and convention. I am currently helping to write a case for support to hopefully bring in future funds so CCB can continue it's wonderful work.
On a local level I currently serve as my chapter's secretary. I have been involved in the running of our chapter, planning for events this year, and trying to build membership.


3. How do you propose to support CCB during your term of office as we move ahead with our CEO Paul Shane?


I will continue to assist Paul in whatever I can. I am currently helping to look at what ways our Constitution and bylaws need amending in order to give him the authority he needs as well as bringing CCB in to compliance with state law. I have done my best to give him background information in areas I am familiar with and will continue to give him any information that might be helpful in his job.


4. Because the primary mission of CCB is to advocate for persons who are blind or have low vision, discuss three issue areas you believe require our advocacy efforts.


One area is definitely transportation. Anyone who has ever taken para transit or even a city bus knows that routs could be designed better or drivers could be more assistive. We need to continue to advocate with our local transportation agencies to try and help all parties work better together.
Guide dog legislation and regulations are another area we should focus on. I don't currently have a guide dog but have spent the majority of the last 20 years with a dog. Even almost 90 years after the first guide dog arrived in this country guide dog teams are still facing obstacles to their safety and from getting rides. I think it is important for us to continue activating for guide dog safety. We narrowly missed getting legislation passed last year that would have increased penalties when a guide dog is attacked. We also shouldn't rest until any person using a guide dog can feel comfortable calling an Uber or Lyft ride without fear that they will be turned down.
Third, is an area near and dear to my heart and that is technology. Whether it is windows, android, apple, or something else we need to work with the technology companies to make their main stream platforms compatible with our access technology programs and hardware. Apple has done a wonderful job of building VoiceOver in to its products but we need to continue working with Apple to make sure they don't slide backward. At the same time MicroSoft is finally trying to make efforts to build a screen reading program in to windows. Can you imagine a world where no matter what your technology platform of choice is you don't have to worry about buying an expensive program such as JAWS or zoomtext just to use your computer? The only way we are going to accomplish that is by working together.


Secretary


No statements were submitted for this position before the published deadline.


Directors


Steve Fort


1. What office are you seeking, and what are your qualifications?


I am running for re-election as board of director second term. I have been a long time member of CCB and have served on fund-raising, governmental affairs, and credentials committees. And have attended numerous meetings of the San Gabriel Chapter beginning in 1973 and became a member in 1974. In 1977 I joined the West Valley Chapter and was a member for 5 years.
I joined the San Francisco Chapter in 1982. I have been a member of Bayview Chapter CCB since 1985 and have served as chapter president a total of 9 years.


2. What contributions have you made to CCB in the last year?


I have served on the scholarship and membership committees and was president of Bayview Chapter - CCB and continue serving on committees. I have participated in most board meetings since having been elected to the board of directors.


3. How do you propose to support CCB during your term of office as we move ahead with our CEO Paul Shane?


As a longtime member of CCB I will offer historical perspective and help forge a consensus as to how to move forward by promoting continuity and stability and will actively support the decisions arrived at by the board


4. Because the primary mission of CCB is to advocate for persons who are blind or have low vision, discuss three issue areas you believe require our advocacy efforts.


As past president of Braille Revival League of California I have been a longtime advocate of the promotion and use of Braille which is a language in itself. I am also mindful of the fact that as blind people we are 70 percent unemployed and having been in and out of work, I have experienced both sides of the equation.

Having voted in every election since June of 1968, I think it is especially important that blind persons are afforded the opportunity to vote privately via electronic means and will actively participate in making that goal a reality.


Sarah Harris


1. What office are you seeking, and what are your qualifications?


My Name is Sarah Harris and I am seeking the position of CCB Board Member. I feel that I am qualified because I have served as a board member in the NON-Profit sector before. I am knowledgeable in fundraising, reviewing and approving budgets, and strategic planning. I am also skilled in researching and learning about new and innovative ways to improve a NON-Profit organization. I have been a member of CCB since 2014 and became Vice-President of the Fresno Chapter in 2015. I make a solid effort to learn about the history of CCB from the long standing members of my chapter. In January, I became chapter President and look forward to a very productive year. Last year, I was appointed to the Transportation Sub-Committee for the Disability Advisory Commission for the City of Fresno. I enjoy networking, or as I like to call it, Social Brokering to build relationships that can have a positive impact on the blind community. I believe that friend raising can lead to fundraising. I am highly motivated to help CCB grow and move into the future.


2. What contributions have you made to CCB in the last year?


In the past year I served as Vice-President and Fundraising Chair for the Fresno Chapter. I WORKED WITH FELLOW CHAPTER MEMBERS TO PROVIDE OUTREACH AND EDUCATION TO OUR LOCAL COMMUNITY ABOUT BLINDNESS. I have served on the following committees at the state level: Constitution and By Laws, Membership, Publications, and Resolutions. I am currently working with a very skilled group of my peers and the CEO to put together a Case for Support document to improve CCB's chances of receiving grants to further programs.


3. How do you propose to support CCB during your term of office as we move ahead with our CEO Paul Shane?


I would like to help by lending a hand in any way that I can. I think outside of the box and I believe that I have a lot of ideas that could bring CCB to the next level. Paul Shane is highly skilled in turning around NON-Profits. I believe that with the right combination of his expertise and our member's commitment CCB will continue to thrive.


4. Because the primary mission of CCB is to advocate for persons who are blind or have low vision, discuss three issue areas you believe require our advocacy efforts.


I believe that three areas that need our attention are transportation, unemployment among blind Californians, and technology.
Transportation has long been an issue in our community. I believe that we can help by making our presence known within our own communities and speak up where transportation is concerned. We need to find ways to create jobs that are gratifying and have comparable pay for blind persons. We need to be able to work in fields that we love and find satisfying and that can give us financial freedom as well. As technology continues to evolve we need to make sure that accessibility evolves with it. We can do this by keeping up with what is being developed and making sure that we speak up when it's needed.


Pam Metz


1. What office are you seeking, and what are your qualifications?


I Am seeking re-election of my seat on the board of directors. I served for eight years as President of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter, CCB. I'm now the current Treasurer of the Chapter. I'm the current chair of the Domestic violence and Hate Crimes committee. I'm always willing to continue to learn as much as I can to improve CCB. I have good listening and communication skills. I spent 20 years before I lost my sight working in the nursing field.


2. What contributions have you made to CCB in the last year?


I am currently a Board member of The Library Users of California, Golden State Guide Dog Handlers Inc., attend Braille Institute twice a year to talk about and distribute CCB brochures twice a year for two of their low vision programs to attempt to recruit new members, involved in the community with a project I began in my local Chapter of collecting toys at Christmas and a new project of having a Chapter food drive, along with the above-mentioned activities stated above.


3. How do you propose to support CCB during your term of office as we move ahead with our CEO Paul Shane?


In order to rebuild this organization we must have more exposure in the local communities as well as throughout the state. I'm willing to work with Paul to insure that CCB, gets that exposure. There is no reason that CCB has to stand alone in the work that the organization does. There needs to be topics that will interest persons looking for an organization to join. I feel that the web site needs to be more appealing to the public, and I am certain that a strong mentoring program for new and existing members is required to bring a higher percentage of membership involvement. Many of our current and future members have probably never been involved in organizational work and must be taught before they can lead the various committees, Board and Officer responsibilities.

California is a large state, so CCB and its members need to work in their regional areas on issues that are found in that region, then bring them to the state convention to discuss and show the work that has been done, and We should bring our plans as to how we will implement those ideas. An example of working in the community is a toy drive that Greater Los Angeles is a part of each year, with our local news network. We are also planning a food drive in June. I think that Paul has some great ideas for CCB and I'm more than willing to work with him to encourage change. Change is hard to accept and accomplish without information, and a finish product at the end.


4. Because the primary mission of CCB is to advocate for persons who are blind or have low vision, discuss three issue areas you believe require our advocacy efforts.


This is part of my statement from my first election, but I believe that these ideas stand today. We must demonstrate and teach would be members about advocacy. Many blind and visually impaired persons don't realize that they have both rights and responsibilities and an attempt must be made to teach them how to become assertive first for themselves, and then for CCB (self and group advocacy).

The second area is teaching current and future members how the legislative process works, sometimes in their favor, and sometimes not in their favor depending on the outcome of the legislation they are trying to get passed.

Third would be leadership skills. This would take a while to learn and accomplish, but is extremely necessary for the survival and resurgence of the CCB. The order of these things may not be important, but we still have enough long time experienced members to put these programs together.

I will do my part to at least organize some of the direction which I feel would work if I am elected to the CCB Board.


Linda Porelle


1. What office are you seeking, and what are your qualifications?


I'm Linda Porelle and I am seeking the position of member of the Board of Directors of CCB.
I've lived in San Francisco since 2005. After 30+ years as a social worker in blindness services in Massachusetts and California, I studies and worked as a life coach. I am currently retired with a considerable amount of time and energy to devote to meaningful volunteer activities, chief among these being my involvement with CCB.

My positions in CCB since joining in 2005 include:

I actually enjoy attending meetings, for the most part. I appreciate discussing both the larger issues affecting CCB as well as the day-to-day logistics of overseeing CCB's operation. I value our democratic process and the freedom and responsibility to speak my mind and offer my ideas and suggestions and remain committed to fostering an environment of respect and collaboration in this time of change for CCB.
I'm a connections person. I feel it is important for a group that works this closely together to get to know each other well enough to understand each other's gifts and talents as well as personal challenges and quirks. IN addition, people often comment appreciatively on my sense of humor. I have a fairly good sense of when it's time to lighten things up.
I would gratefully welcome your support and your vote inApril.


2. What contributions have you made to CCB in the last year?


Chair, Publications Committee: It is a privilege to serve as chair of this strong and active committee in CCB. OUR goal remains continuing to provide relevant and interesting information to the membership of CCB in the most timely and cost-effective manner.
Our accomplishments for 2016 included:

President, Braille Revival League of California: During 2016, a joint committee of BRLC and CLUA members met to explore merging into one affiliate. After careful consideration and Q&A calls for members, a joint meeting was held in January 2017. The merger proposal was defeated. However, an encouraging number of members joined or rejoined BRLC to assist in revitalizing this important affiliate.

Member, Scholarship Committee: I joined this committee in 2016. The committee's work involves

One of our goals as a committee is to ensure that all of the talented CCB scholarship applicants make connections with both a local chapter and the CCB student affiliate.

Member, Alternative convention committee: In 2016, the goal of this working group has been to explore potential options for members to attend our annual convention remotely. We are still evaluating possible options with consideration given to pricing and accessibility. We remain confident that a viable option will be found.


3. How do you propose to support CCB during your term of office as we move ahead with our CEO Paul Shane?


The clock is ticking on Paul Shane's two year term as executive director of CCB. In April, Paul will be reporting on his first six months in office.
This is clearly a make or break time for CCB as a viable non-profit organization in California. What is most apparent to a thoughtful observer at this point is that one person, despite his experience and commitment to the job, will not rescue CCB on his own.
It is we, the members, who must strengthen our commitment to CCB and offer our individual gifts and talents to setting a new course for the organization we profess to love.

As a member of the board of CCB, I will commit to the following:


4. Because the primary mission of CCB is to advocate for persons who are blind or have low vision, discuss three issue areas you believe require our advocacy efforts.


I suggest Mobilizing and strengthening special-interest affiliates that currently meet annually. BRLC and the Seniors with Vision Loss committee could be encouraged to create and promote educational projects to share with the wider California community.

As current President of BRLC, I'll be inviting our membership to reach out to local TVI's through CTEBVI and Braille and Teach to offer support and mentoring to children currently learning braille in school. We could also connect with adult rehabilitation programs where braille is taught to support adult learners by demonstrating the value of braille in our own lives and work. We could also join advisory boards for California libraries distributing books in braille to promote the continuing availability of braille in their collections.

As noted in question 2, the publications committee has recently published a new ebook, How to Have a Happy Life as a Senior Losing or Without Vision. Plans are progressing to make this book available on Kindle and on CD. It's currently available on ccbnet.org.
Along with the Seniors with Vision Loss committee, we could mount a campaign to widely distribute this resource to agencies and medical facilities serving older adults with vision loss, both for their own education as providers and for their clients

Finally, I believe that CCB needs to create and implement a strategy for addressing the deplorable statistics associated with unemployment and blindness. We must identify avenues for intervention in the areas of vocational education, job readiness training and job retention support. We need to develop a strong and compelling statement about the myths and facts around employing people with vision loss. Then, we need to mount a campaign to influence potential employers to change their attitudes about hiring our group of skilled and motivated workers.



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