Future Reflections          Convention Report 2007

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NOPBC 2007 Annual Meeting

by Carrie Gilmer, Secretary

Carrie GilmerIn beautiful Atlanta, Georgia, on the afternoon of June 30, 2007, the twenty-forth annual business meeting of the NOPBC took place. Officers present were President Barbara Cheadle, Maryland; First Vice President Carol Castellano, New Jersey; Second Vice President Brad Weatherd, Wyoming; Secretary Carrie Gilmer, Minnesota; and Treasurer Sandy Taboada; Louisiana. Board members present were Maria Garcia, New York; Kevin Harris, Maryland; Debby Brackett, Florida; Barbara Mathews, California; and Stephanie Kieszak-Holloway, Georgia.

We were very pleased to have nearly one hundred members and guests in attendance at the meeting. The treasurer’s report as given by Sandy Taboada was approved by acclamation. The secretary’s report was deferred to the upcoming board meeting. A variety of announcements about activities at the convention and upcoming NOPBC programs were made. Especially exciting was an announcement about an effort to work with the leadership of Boy Scouts of America to improve the possibilities for more blind children to become involved in scouting. It was also announced with great pleasure that the next annual meeting of NOPBC would mark our twenty-fifth anniversary as an organization.

One visible sign of the dynamic growth in NOPBC was our decision at this meeting to expand our national NOBPC board by four members, bringing the total on the board to ten members plus the five officers. We have so many good, new leaders that we felt the need to take advantage of their energy and creative ideas. Also, by expanding the board, we broaden our diversity and expand our geographical representation. The decision required a motion to amend the constitution, which was made by First Vice President Carol Castellano, and the vote to pass it was unanimous.

Next on the agenda was elections. Officers are elected every two years and board members every year. Officers were elected in 2006, so only board members were up for reelection this year. Board Member Debby Brackett gave the nominating committee report and thanked her committee members, Carol Castellano, Sandy Taboada, and Brad Weatherd, for their service. The committee’s report was accepted and the following members were nominated to serve another term: Barbara Mathews, Maria Garcia, Stephanie Kieszak-Holloway, and Debby Brackett. The committee also reported nominations for the two open positions vacated by Kevin Harris of Maryland and Cindy Haley of Maine, and for the four newly-created positions. Nominated to these positions were Denise Colton, Utah; Jim Beyer, Montana; David Hammel, Iowa; Elizabeth Frampton, Rhode Island; Pat Renfranz, Utah; and Rose Marie Bowman, Michigan. As each name was brought forward for a vote and other nominations called for, it was clear that the membership overwhelmingly approved of the committee’s work. One by one, each nominee was enthusiastically and loudly elected by acclamation.

Barbara Cheadle thanked the former board members for their service and explained that the practice of the NOPBC is to use some of the national board positions as training for up-and-coming parent leaders. Therefore, we always expect a regular turnover in some of the board member positions to allow new parent leaders an opportunity to develop leadership skills and national recognition. As members go off the board, they usually increase their activity and continue to grow as leaders in their state parent divisions and NFB affiliates.

As the brief business meeting came to a close, President Barbara Cheadle made a special announcement. Reminding us of our decades of growth and movement toward the future, she declared the time had come for someone else to build on the foundation that she has laid and to carry forward the blueprints for the future that she has spent her life working toward; she will not seek reelection in July of 2008. Although President Cheadle felt that her personal mission as president had been fulfilled, she reassured everyone that she was not retiring from the NFB or the NOPBC, and that we will still have access to her passion and expertise. In remarking about the work still to be done, she announced that she would focus her energies by remaining the editor of Future Reflections and in continuing to serve the NFB and NOPBC in outreach and advocacy. She is the director of the Parent Outreach Department of the NFB Jernigan Institute, and she has many ideas and plans to make that department a vital arm of the NFB’s outreach to parents.

As we listened to President Cheadle’s candid sharing of her decision, we all took a deep breath as we thought about the possibilities of new growth, new changes, and of the challenges we face in changing what it means to be blind for our kids; and we felt the excitement of knowing that we have the strength of collective action with which to greet those challenges.

President Cheadle concluded her remarks with a beautiful quote about the role of children and parents from The Prophet by Kahil Gibran, and then called for a motion and the meeting was adjourned. It had been a short business meeting but a productive one full of hope and excitement for the future.

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