WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 20, 2021)—Serina Gilbert of Colorado Springs, CO, 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, Serina 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 Serina successfully completed this rigorous program during the height of the coronavirus pandemic only makes her accomplishment all the more noteworthy.

As a result of the mentorship and support Serina received through the program, she advanced to a Youth Services and Transition Manager position with the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in November 2020. Prior to this promotion, she was a vocational rehabilitation counselor by day, providing career counseling to young adults with disabilities ages 15–24, and freelance writer and social media manager by night. She began her career as a vocational rehabilitation counselor in 2010 after receiving services as a client of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). She is diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic eye condition that impacts her peripheral vision as well as her visual acuity. She received training from DVR including independent travel skills and assistive technology evaluations and equipment recommendations. She is also an active dog guide user.

On her blog, Blindy Blog, she writes about topics including assistive technology and dog guide tips. She is also a regular guest on podcasts like Blind Abilities and especially enjoys running a variety of Facebook groups, including Career Resources for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Assistive Technology Community for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Serina holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from George Washington University.

“These fifteen professionals, including Serina, 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, Serina 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.