Year-long program prepares people who are visually impaired to lead businesses and communities—now and in the future

One of AFB’s key focus areas for creating a world of no limits is employment, which includes preparing people who are blind or visually impaired to take the helm of corporations, nonprofits, entrepreneurial ventures, or whatever they dream of doing. That’s why AFB created the Blind Leaders Development Program (BLDP).

Kirk Adams holds his white cane and stands in a large lobby with a young White woman with her guide dog and a young Middle Eastern man with his white cane. “People who are blind have so many capabilities, but we’re just not seeing them in positions of leadership within their workplace or the community at large,” says Megan Aragon, AFB’s chief program officer. “AFB asked the question, ‘How can we change that—and how can we make sure that helps future generations, too?’”

The BLDP is the answer to that question. After a selection process that weighed a wide range of criteria, AFB chose the first cohort of 16 mentors and 16 fellows, a unique one-to-one structure that pairs mentors and fellows based on specific connections, such as similar industries, interests, or goals.

The first cohort was due to begin working together in March, but several in-person events were delayed due to COVID-19. New plans for virtual meetings and workshops are now in the works, during which the fellows will receive training in interpersonal and communication skills, such as giving presentations and networking, all tailored to people who are visually impaired.

AFB is grateful to American Express, Lee Hecht Harrison, and Mercer for sponsoring the first group of BLDP fellows and mentors.