WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 20, 2021)—Caitlin Mongillo of Stratford, CT, graduated from the Blind Leaders Development Program at the American Foundation for the Blind’s (AFB) virtual commencement ceremony on April 20, 2021.

Launched in 2020, the Blind Leaders Development Program was created by AFB to increase upward mobility and create meaningful leadership experiences for individuals who are blind or low vision, who are already employed and in the beginning stages of their careers.

While in the program, Caitlin and her fellow graduates received extensive training in leadership, networking, communication, and other key skills for advancing in their careers and improving their effectiveness as they achieve higher levels of authority and influence. Other facets of the program included following the Leadership Challenge curriculum, attending a series of webinars, and being paired with a successful blind or low vision mentor who could provide honest advice and feedback about what it takes to succeed in the workforce. That Caitlin successfully completed this rigorous program during the height of the coronavirus pandemic only makes her accomplishment all the more noteworthy.

Caitlin works as a social worker at the Office of the Public Defender in Bridgeport, providing legal representation to individuals living in poverty. Her job involves assessing clients, referring them to programs to help aid in mitigation, and acting as an expert when clients experience mental health or substance use struggles. Prior to this role, Caitlin served as program director at a non-profit in Bridgeport that assists individuals in gaining employment. She is also a senior mentor for Learning Ally's College Success Program, where she counsels visually impaired students and works with them to attain their academic, social, and professional goals. Caitlin holds a master's degree in social work from Stony Brook University, and a bachelor’s in English/Secondary Education from Manhattanville College.

“These fifteen professionals, including Caitlin, have honed their knowledge and skills to take on greater authority and responsibilities in their professional fields,” said Kirk Adams, Ph.D., AFB president and CEO. “Thanks to their hard work and the work of their mentors, for whom we are all grateful, Caitlin and her fellow graduates now have the imperative to create and sustain a more inclusive workforce. Their accomplishments augur well for both their own careers and the world at large.”

For more information, visit AFB.org/BLDP.