Release Date: 
Thursday, January 24, 2008
John G. Paré Jr.
Executive Director for Strategic Initiatives
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2227
(410) 913-3912 (Cell)

Senator Mikulski to Speak at the National Federation of the Blind

Event to Honor the Life and Legacy of Dr. Betsy Zaborowski

Baltimore, Maryland (January 24, 2008): Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski will speak at the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) on Sunday, January 27, at an event to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Betsy Zaborowski.  Dr. Zaborowski, the first executive director of the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, died on November 29, 2007, after a nine-month battle with a rare form of cancer.  The event will take place at 3:30 p.m. at the headquarters of the National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230.  Over six hundred friends, colleagues, and blind Americans are expected to attend.

"All who knew Dr. Zaborowski knew her as an amazing activist - intrepid, unrelenting, and determined.  We all know 'I'll get back to you' did not work with Dr. Z!  But it wasn't about her; it was about empowerment," said Senator Mikulski.  "Dr. Z turned her passion into action.  She understood that when you provide the resources and tools, people can follow their dreams and they can change their destinies.  I was so proud to know her, and I am so proud to join the NFB in honoring her memory."

“We are pleased that Senator Mikulski will be joining us to celebrate the life of our beloved Dr. Zaborowski,” said Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind.  “Senator Mikulski helped us get funding for our Jernigan Institute, a project that was so important to Dr. Zaborowski.  The senator was present at our groundbreaking for the new building and we appreciate her long-standing support.  The youth programs and technologies spearheaded under Dr. Zaborowski’s leadership of the Jernigan Institute will continue to improve the lives of all blind individuals.  These innovations would not be possible without the support of Senator Mikulski.”

From December of 2003 until the spring of 2007, Dr. Zaborowski served as the first executive director of the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, the Federation’s research and training facility.  During her tenure as Jernigan Institute director, Dr. Zaborowski established and oversaw innovative programs designed to provide opportunity for blind Americans of all ages.  Her initiatives included the National Center for Blind Youth in Science (NCBYS), a program encouraging blind youth to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)—fields falsely believed to be closed to the blind.  Dr. Zaborowski also oversaw the Jernigan Institute’s International Braille and Technology Center, the largest center for the evaluation of technology for the blind anywhere in the world, and the Accessible Home Initiative, which helps blind people to identify appliances and consumer electronics that they can use independently. 

In 1998 and 2000, the Daily Record selected Dr. Zaborowski as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women.  In 2004, Smart Woman magazine featured her on its cover, and the next year, Smart CEO featured her as one of 25 admired Maryland leaders.  She served on the Maryland Information Technology Board and as the first chairwoman of the Mayor’s Commission on Disabilities. She also served two terms on the Baltimore City Women's Commission.