Future Reflections         Convention Report 2008

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Meet the 2008-2009 Officers and Board Members of NOPBC

Carrie GilmerPresident
Carrie Gilmer, Minnesota (NOPBC board 2005, secretary 2006 to present, president MN-POBC) Carrie has been a leader in the MN-POBC since 1999, and for the past five years she has worked at BLIND, Inc.; one of the three national NFB training centers for the blind. She initiated and coordinates a monthly program for teens and a Saturday school where blind kids and their parents can learn from blind mentors and practice blindness techniques. Carrie and husband Phillip Richardson have four children: Joe (26); Kate (22); Jordan (17), who is blind from cone-rod dystrophy; and Maya (10). Jordan is an honor student and he loves cartoons, sports, science, and foreign languages. Carrie and Jordan attended their first convention in 1999 in Atlanta, where he received his first cane.

Carol CastellanoFirst Vice President
Carol Castellano, New Jersey (NOPBC first vice president 1998 to present, second vice president 1991-1998, and president POBC-NJ) Carol is the acclaimed author of Making It Work, The Bridge to Braille, and Because Books Matter. Carol recently started a new career as the outreach and recruitment coordinator for the teacher of blind students training program at the College of New Jersey, a program she helped establish. Carol and her husband, Bill Cucco, have two children: Serena (24), blind from retinopathy of prematurity (ROP); and John (21). Serena graduated in 2007 with a degree in sociology and social justice, and is currently employed as a life skills advocate with the Office of Public Defender in Newark, NJ. Son John made important contributions to the NOPBC Webpage as an NFB summer intern. Carol attended her first convention in 1990 then went back to tell her family where they would be spending their fourth of Julys from then on.

Brad WeatherdSecond Vice President
Brad Weatherd, Wyoming (NOPBC board 2002, second vice president 2006 to present, and treasurer NFB-WY) Brad inaugurated the NOPBC Dads’ Night Out and with wife Jill has hosted the NOPBC Family Hospitality at conventions. Brad is a rangeland management specialist with the US Forest Service. He and Jill have two children: Hannah (15), blind from congenital cataracts, detached retina, and glaucoma, and son Levi (13). Hannah starred in a McDonald’s commercial when she was six and is currently a 4-H grand champion for poultry and rabbits. They have been to 14 consecutive conventions.

Sandy TaboadaTreasurer
Sandy Taboada, Louisiana (NOPBC board 1998-2002 and treasurer 2002 to present, president LA-POBC, and secretary NFB-LA) Sandy manages the NOPBC seminar registration every year with the same integrity and competence she brings to all the offices she holds in the NFB. In her professional life she is Dr. Merchant, a professor and doctor of veterinary dermatology at Louisiana State University. Sandy and her husband Joe Taboada, also a veterinarian, have two sons: Michael (15), blind from optic nerve pressure caused by a benign tumor; and Robert (13). Michael is a Boy Scout and an avid ham radio operator. They have attended 11 conventions since 1997.

Laura WeberSecretary
Laura Weber, Texas (NOPBC secretary 2008, founding president of the TX-POBC) Laura is a biomedical engineer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, and her husband, John, is an energy trading software consultant at Shell. They have one child, Lindsay Adair (6), who is blind due to Leber’s congenital amaurosis (LCA). Lindsay is learning Braille and cane travel skills, along with all the “regular” things kindergarteners learn. Her favorite things are swinging, swimming, jumping on her trampoline, playing tee-ball, storytime, and singing and listening to music. The family attended their first convention in 2006.

Jim BeyerJim Beyer, Montana (NOPBC board 2007, chair of HOPE [Helping Other Parents Excel] the POBC affiliate in Montana) Jim is a contractor and real estate broker. He and his wife, Gwen, have two sons and one daughter: Jordan (17); Luke (15); and Lauren (14), who is blind from Leber’s congenital amaurosis. Lauren was named Most Philosophical Fifth Grader in America in 2005 and today loves literature, makeup, and the friends she has made at the Teen Hospitality Room at convention. The family attended their first convention in 2005.

Rose Marie BowmanRose Marie Bowman, Michigan (NOPBC board 2007; various offices MI-POBC, 1989-2002) Rose Marie says she is now just an ordinary member of the MI-POBC. We say there is nothing ordinary about her. She is active in the Telephone Pioneers and is a technical specialist for AT&T. She is most famous for selling NOPBC 50/50 raffle tickets. Rose Marie has seven children: Brickie (41); Vickie (34); Lisa (30); Cyntina (26), who is blind from congenital cataracts and glaucoma; Willie (24); and twins Tamika and Tonisha (23). Cyntina lives independently in her own apartment and loves to sing and play board games. Rose Marie has attended 11 conventions.

Merry-Noel ChamberlainMerry-Noel Chamberlain, Virginia (NOPBC board 2008, board member Des Moines chapter, NFB-IA) Merry-Noel, her husband, Marty, and their two children: Royene (28) and Ashleah (9), who is blind from congenital cataracts, glaucoma, and detached retinas, recently moved from Des Moines, Iowa, to Staunton, Virginia. Merry-Noel worked as a teacher of visual impairments in Des Moines, and is currently working as an orientation and mobility instructor at the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind. Adopted from China in July 2007, Ashleah won the Braille Readers Are Leaders Jennifer Baker award and a trip to her very first NFB convention in 2008. Her favorite books are Winnie the Pooh and Berenstain Bears. Merry-Noel, also blind, attended her first convention in 1998 in Dallas where she discovered her NFB family.

Denise ColtonDenise Colton, Utah (NOPBC board 2007, board member UT-POBC) Denise is an important new asset to our leadership. Professionally Dr. Denise Colton is a psychologist specializing in the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents. With the Federation’s help Denise and her husband Rick are fighting to get Braille for their daughters Katie (15) and Kristie (10), both of whom are losing vision from Stargardt’s disease. Katie, a lover of science and math, hopes to become a meteorologist. Kristie would like to become a singer and horse rehabilitator. The Coltons attended their first convention in Louisville in 2005.

Cindy ConleyCindy Conley, Ohio (NOPBC board 2008, president of OH-POBC 2007, board member OH-POBC 2002-2007) Cindy has a master’s degree in human resources, is a network technician, and has worked nearly 30 years for Cincinnati Bell Telephone. She coordinates and hosts a fall retreat for families for the OH-POBC each year. Cindy and husband Jim have two sons: Tyler (22) and Kyle (18). Kyle was a 23-week preemie and is blind from retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). Kyle, a gifted singer and violinist, has sung at the Crystal Cathedral, with the Cincinnati Boys Choir, and in Hawaii with the Honolulu Boys Choir. He attends Wright State University where he is majoring in music education. Cindy attended her first convention in 2000.

David HammelDavid Hammel, Iowa (NOPBC board member 2007, vice president IA-POBC) David, a metallurgical engineer, is married to Barbara, who is blind, and they are both leaders in our new parents’ chapter in Iowa. They have twin sons, both blind with microphthalmia. Adopted from China, Jesse and Paul are 5-years-old. Paul loves to sing, and Jesse, who is just starting to come out of his shell, is a champion Little Smokie eater who can eat twenty-one in one sitting. (We feel a state fair competition coming on.) David attended his first convention in Louisville in 2005.

Stephanie Kieszak-Holloway and her daughter KendraStephanie Kieszak-Holloway, Georgia (NOPBC board member 2006 to present, president GA-POBC) Stephanie is the energetic and successful founder of our parent division in Georgia. A biostatistician, she and her husband Richard Holloway have two daughters and one son: Sarah (14); Kendra (5), blind from microphthalmia, cataracts, PHPV, aniridia, and detached retina; and RJ (2). Kendra never met a musical instrument she didn’t want to own or play. She is already a Braille reader and is more literate than most of her sighted peers. The family attended their first convention in 2004 in Atlanta.

Barbara MathewsBarbara Mathews, California (NOPBC board member 2002 to present, president CA-POBC) An attorney, Barbara is a vice president and corporate secretary of Edison International (EIX) and Southern California Edison (SCE). Barbara organizes and moderates the NOPBC Parent Power workshops at national convention. She is a savvy IEP advocate for parents in her state and does pro bono work for parents when she can. Barbara and husband Rob Sweeney have two daughters: Kiko (15),and Kyra (14), who is blind from Leber’s congenital amaurosis. Kyra enjoys singing and also plays the flute and piano. Kyra and her mother traveled to England last summer on a trip with Kyra’s school choir. The family first attended a national convention in 1998.

Pat RenfranzPat Renfranz, Utah (NOPBC board 2007, secretary UT-POBC) Pat is a bio-genetics scientist. Within the NOPBC she is taking a leadership role in the committee for the implementation of textbooks on time. She and her husband David Blair have two daughters: Caroline (12), blind from bilateral microphthalmia, and Camille (8). Caroline is an outdoors enthusiast who especially enjoys hiking, running, and rock climbing. At the NFB 2008 Washington Seminar, Caroline convinced Senator Hatch of Utah of the importance of the quiet cars issue through her personal testimony. They attended their first convention in 2005.

Carlton Walker and her daughter AnnaCarlton Walker, Pennsylvania (NOPBC board member since 2008, PA-POBC president 2007, NFB-PA board member 2007). Carlton and her husband, Steve, are the parents of Kenny (23), Stephanie (21), and Anna Catherine (7), who is blind. Carlton is an attorney and is currently pursuing certification as a teacher of the visually impaired at Salus University. Anna Catherine’s blindness resulted from medical complications of surgery and strokes as an infant. Anna Catherine is a bundle of energy. She is active in church, Brownies, jazz and ballet classes, and is eager to resume horseback riding classes. She is an aspiring artist and won an award in the 2007 coloring contest for her school’s musical. Carlton, Steve, and Anna attended their first convention in Dallas in 2006.

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