New York (December 21, 2015)—The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)—one of the nation's premier organizations for improving the lives of people with vision loss—today announced the election of five new members to its national Board of Trustees: Sally Giittinger, Brenda Gumbs, Meg LaVigne, Roman Rubio and Russell Shaffer.

"We are very excited about the many talents our new trustees bring to AFB," said Carl R. Augusto, AFB's president and CEO. "They possess a wide range of expertise and we know they will bring extraordinary creativity, energy, and experience to the board."

Sally Giittinger has served as administrator for the Nebraska Center for the Education of Children who are Blind or Visually Impaired (NCECBVI) since 1998. She is the past secretary/treasurer of the Council of Schools and Services for the Blind (COSSB) and has served on numerous boards and committees, including those of the Advisory Council of the National Leadership Consortium in Sensory Disabilities and the Braille Institute's National Braille Challenge Advisory Committee. In 2012, Giitinger received the William H. English Leadership Award from COSSB. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in Education from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Brenda D. Gumbs has been a human resource practitioner for 30 years, and a senior executive for the last 20. She has focused on building the capabilities of companies or divisions, improving strategic planning, and identifying human resource solutions to business problems. Most recently, she held the position of executive vice president of people and culture at Perfetti Van Melle, North America. She currently serves on the board of the Cincinnati Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired. While serving on the Board of Directors for the National Industries for the Blind, Gumbs received the R. B. Irwin Award, in recognition of leadership and service to people who are blind. Gumbs has a B.S. from the State University of New York at Oswego, and an M.S. from the State University of New York at Albany.

Meg LaVigne is president of television at Litton Entertainment and is responsible for several divisions in the company, including television syndication, news and public relations. Prior to joining Litton Entertainment, LaVigne was vice president/general manager of the CBS-owned television stations in Atlanta, Ga. and Norfolk, Va. LaVigne is one of only a handful of senior TV executives in America to manage two television stations concurrently in two states, and is an Emmy-winning talk show host, veteran broadcast producer and commercial announcer. She is also a member of Alliance for Women in Media and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. La Vigne is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross and Lawrence Academy where she sits on the Alumni Council.

Roman G. Rubio, M.D., M.B.A., is senior vice president at Avalanche Biotechnologies, Inc., where he leads the translational medicine group, which is developing treatments for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and color vision deficiency. Previously, he worked at Genentech, where he was the global head of ophthalmology and led the late development for Lucentis, a drug used to treat wet AMD, and lampalizumab, a treatment for geographic atrophy (advanced dry AMD). Rubio received his M.D. from the University of California–San Francisco, and his M.B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. He also has an M.S. in Health and Medical Sciences from the University of California–Berkeley and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Notre Dame.

Russell Shaffer is senior manager of Corporate Affairs, Constituent Relations for Walmart Stores, Inc., where he is responsible for leading the company's stakeholder engagement and corporate strategy for people with disabilities and aging communities. Shaffer is legally blind as a result of retinitis pigmentosa and currently chairs Walmart's Advocates for Disability Awareness and Education employee resource group. He also serves on several boards, including the Disability Equality Index advisory committee and the U.S. Business Leadership Network's Corporate Advisory Board. In 2015, AFB recognized Shaffer with its prestigious Stephen Garff Marriott Award for his professional achievement and service. He has a B.A. in Business Administration and Communication Arts from Malone University.


About AFB
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that expands possibilities for people with vision loss. AFB's priorities include broadening access to technology; elevating the quality of information and tools for the professionals who serve people with vision loss; and promoting independent and healthy living for people with vision loss by providing them and their families with relevant and timely resources. Headquartered in New York, AFB is proud to house the Helen Keller Archives and honor the more than 40 years that Helen Keller worked tirelessly for AFB.

Adrianna Montague
Chief Communications & Marketing Officer
American Foundation for the Blind