Paying tribute to trailblazing advocates in the blindness field

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 23, 2019)—At the 2019 AFB Leadership Conference, individuals who have made superb contributions to improving the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired will be recognized for their stellar achievements with the presentations of the Migel Medal, the Stephen Garff Marriott Award, and the Corinne Kirchner Research Award.

The Migel Medal was established in 1937 by the late M.C. Migel, AFB's first chairman, to honor professionals and volunteers whose dedication and achievements improve the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired. The 2019 recipients are Glinda Foster Hill and Dr. Elton Moore.

Glinda Foster Hill is an Education Program Specialist at the U.S. Department of Education (ED), Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), Division of Research to Practice. She has worked in the field of disability for over four decades, as a teacher of students with physical and multiple disabilities in Chicago and Nashville public schools. At Vanderbilt University Medical Center, she was the director of early intervention services, Tennessee’s Early Intervention System, where she and her staff annually served around 1,500 infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. In 1997, Hill accepted a position at OSEP where she became responsible for the development and management of programs designed to improve developmental, educational, and employment outcomes of children with disabilities. She has worked on policies that strengthen educational programs and opportunities, ushered in new and groundbreaking programs, and served as project officer for those programs and others. Hill’s portfolio includes a center for preparing early intervention teachers of the visually impaired (TVIs), three doctoral preparation university consortia to prepare leadership personnel in visual impairment and blindness, an increased number of masters TVI and Oamp;M training grants, research projects in early literacy, Bookshare, and DIAGRAM.

Dr. Elton Moore has been a preeminent leader in the blindness field over the last quarter century. His leadership of the Mississippi State University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center oversaw considerable research, especially relating to the employment of people with vision loss, research that was applied by private and governmental organizations serving blind and visually impaired people throughout the United States. He has been a frequent lecturer and presenter, and has contributed to the field's body of knowledge through his editing and authoring of dozens of articles and books, including the only text book on rehabilitation counseling for people with vision loss. He is deservedly well-known in the blindness field for his advocacy skills, his analytical capabilities, and his incredible leadership, as well as his grant writing expertise.

The Migel Medals will be presented to the recipients during a special ceremony on Friday, March 1.

The Stephen Garff Marriott Award honors a blind or visually impaired individual who has served as an extraordinary mentor or who has attained remarkable professional success. Anita Shafer Aaron is the 2019 recipient.

Aaron is the Executive Director of the World Institute on Disability (WID). She joined WID in 2010 after serving for 20 years as CEO of the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, headquartered in San Francisco. Her disability rights work officially began in 1981 as deputy director of the Berkeley Center for Independent Living, and she was one of WID’s pioneering staff members from 1983-1986. Under Aaron's leadership, WID has worked to strengthen its role in defining and promoting accessible health care, addressing barriers to economic inclusion of people with disabilities, and working internationally to increase access to services, training, and education, and involvement in peace-building and conflict resolution initiatives.

The Marriott Award was established in honor of Stephen Garff Marriott, who lost his vision later in life and served as an exemplary role model to others with vision loss. Marriott rose to the upper ranks at Marriott International through hard work and tenacity, and was known for being a talented executive, sales manager, and ambassador of the Marriott brand.
The Marriott Award will be presented on Friday, March 1.
The Corinne Kirchner Research Award honors individuals whose leadership and dedication illuminate the most pressing needs of people with vision loss through timely, innovative, and authoritative research. The 2019 recipient is Dr. Michele C. McDonnall.

Dr. McDonnall is the director of the National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision. She is also principal investigator of several large grants, including the 2010-2015 and 2015-2020 Rehabilitation Research and Training Center grants on Employment for Individuals with Blindness or Other Visual Impairments from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research. In addition to demonstrated excellence in academic writing, grant writing, and research, she also takes the extra step of translating her findings into plain-language summaries. She has published extensively over the last several years on employer attitudes, transportation issues, and improving delivery systems as they relate to individuals who are blind or have low vision, with the ultimate goal of improving competitive employment outcomes and other indicators of employment success.

The Kirchner Award will be presented on Friday, March 1.

About The American Foundation for the Blind
Founded in 1921, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that creates a world of no limits for people who are blind or visually impaired. AFB mobilizes leaders, advances understanding, and champions impactful policies and practices using research and data. AFB is proud to house the Helen Keller Archives and honor the more than 40 years that Helen Keller worked tirelessly with AFB. Visit:

About the AFB Leadership Conference
The 2018 AFB Leadership Conference provides a forum in which leadership personnel in the blindness field can increase their awareness of student and client needs, expand their knowledge, refine leadership skills, and share concerns and strategies. The event is sponsored by Amazon, J.P. Morgan Chase, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, the Delta Gamma Foundation, Google, Microsoft, the American Printing House for the Blind, Fannie Mae, and Sprint among others.


John Mackin
AFB Communications