WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 20, 2021)—Rachel Longan of Berkeley, CA, 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, Rachel 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 Rachel successfully completed this rigorous program during the height of the coronavirus pandemic only makes her accomplishment all the more noteworthy.

Rachel is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist who owns a private psychotherapy practice in Berkeley. Throughout her career, Rachel has improved individuals’ lives by bringing people together. She founded the Mind’s Eye, a support group for individuals coping with blindness. She previously founded a support group for LGBTQ individuals coping with blindness, which she conducted at the Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco. Additionally, Rachel directed a grant-funded program designed for families of children with special needs at the YMCA in Berkeley. She serves on the board of directors for Camping Unlimited, a recreation-focused organization serving children and adults with developmental disabilities. Rachel holds a bachelor’s degree in Music from Mills College in Oakland and a master’s degree in counseling from San Francisco State University. She has presented numerous lectures on treatment approaches for children on the autism spectrum at the University of California, Berkeley.

“These fifteen professionals, including Rachel, 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, Rachel 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.