WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 20, 2021)—Irwin Ramirez of Alexandria, VA, 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, Irwin and his 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 Irwin successfully completed this rigorous program during the height of the coronavirus pandemic only makes his accomplishment all the more noteworthy.

Irwin currently works as a product development support specialist at the National Industries for the Blind and has a strong background in both business and technology. He previously worked at 3M in IT services. Additionally, he serves as the President of Achilles International DC's Chapter. Irwin values inclusion, opportunity, and continuous improvement, and he hopes to see more representation of blind individuals in government agencies as well as corporate America. Irwin holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Zicklin School, Baruch College; and a master’s degree in computer science from SUNY Polytechnic Institute.

“These fifteen professionals, including Irwin, 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, Irwin and his 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.