Convention Agenda

Federation GRIT:

Goals Resilience Innovation Together



Tracy Soforenko, President

Sunday, October 25 - Sunday, November 1, 2020

Virtually over Zoom

For assistance with accessibility features for Zoom--whether vision or hearing, please visit the Zoom accessibility page:

Our National Representative:

Everett Bacon, Board Member, National Federation of the Blind and President, National Federation of the Blind of Utah

Table of Contents

  • Convention Notes
    • The Federation Pledge
    • Convention Registration
    • Zoom Meeting Access
    • Door Prizes
    • Action Auction
    • Pre-Authorized Contribution Plan
    • Requesting Help or Assistance
    • Closed Captioning
  • Sunday, October 25, 2020
  • Monday, October 26, 2020
  • Tuesday, October 27, 2020
  • Wednesday, October 28, 2020
  • Thursday, October 29, 2020
  • Friday, October 30, 2020
  • Saturday, October 31, 2020
    • General Session
    • Saturday Afternoon Concurrent Seminars
    • 2020 Convention Keynote and
    • Halloween Celebration

      Convention Notes

      The Federation Pledge

      “I pledge to participate actively in the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind; to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to abide by its Constitution.”

      Convention Registration

      Convention registration is available online. We ask everyone, whether a Virginia resident or not, to register. If you register before October 18, you will be entered into a drawing for $100. Additionally, current members of a Virginia chapter or division will be eligible to vote for resolutions and in our elections.

      Online registration is free and simple. Visit:

      Inclusivity, Diversity, and Social Conduct

      We are committed to providing a harassment-free environment for everyone. Thank you for cultivating an atmosphere in which participants from diverse backgrounds can learn, network, and share with each other in an environment of mutual respect. We are committed to diversity, equity, and the free expression of ideas.

      These principles have been outlined in our code of conduct found at:

      We recognize a shared responsibility to create and uphold that atmosphere for the benefit of all. Prohibited behaviors include harassment, unwelcome sexual attention, and inappropriate use of the NFB of Virginia virtual convention platform. Prohibited behavior or misuse of the platform will not be tolerated and may result in removal from the convention and/or other consequences. For assistance or to report an incident at the convention, please call 703-672-1339, or email for immediate attention. All reports will be fully investigated according to the steps in our code of conduct. Thank you for doing your part to contribute to our community and the high expectations we strive to maintain.

      Zoom Meeting Access

      During the convention, we will be using one of three separate Zoom meetings to run all programming.
      We have embedded the Zoom links into the agenda to make it easy to just select the link and access your meeting.

      There are three meeting rooms which are being used based on our requirements for certain features.

      High Capacity Sessions such as General Session and the keynote will use:

      Zoom link:
      Meeting ID: 355 076 6032
      One Tap Mobile: +16468769923,,3550766032# tel:%2016468769923,,3550766032

      For many sessions, we will be using our Standard Virginia Zoom Room:

      Zoom link:
      Meeting ID: 829 725 6345
      One Tap Mobile: +13017158592,,8297256345#

      Finally, some additional meetings will use a third Zoom Room:

      Zoom link:
      Meeting ID: 320 202 6798
      One Tap Mobile: +13017158592,,3202026798#

      For those using a land line telephone to access the meeting, we have made most of the information the same except for the meeting ID.

      The telephone number to call for all meetings is: 301 715 8592

      If prompted, the Password is always 2020 1940

      For individuals requiring closed captions, please use the following link:

      Door Prizes

      Door prizes will be drawn periodically throughout convention sessions on Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday and at the banquet. To be eligible for door prizes, you must be registered for the convention and present on Zoom when your name is called. To claim your door prize, you will need to email our door prize team within 10 minutes of the announcement. When your name is called you will need to provide the following information in your email door prize team at

      · Your name
      · Your phone
      · Your email address
      · The special code provided at the time the door prize was called.

      Action Auction

      Beginning October 15 and ending at 5:00 PM ET on Sunday, November 1, 2020 we will be holding an Action Auction to raise money for chapters and divisions within the Virginia affiliate. Most auction items will be available through the online auction only, but some will be auctioned off on Saturday, October 31 in a live auction. The auction will be great fun with many valuable items up for bid. You will have a chance to review and bid on all auction items through our online auction platform:

      For more information, contact Jacki Brown, Chairperson and Auctioneer at (703) 300-5869 or

      Pre-Authorized Contribution Plan

      The Pre-Authorized Contribution (PAC) Plan is a phenomenal and easy way to fund the vital efforts of the National Federation of the Blind. Protecting our rights, providing advocacy, and being able to offer programs such as this year’s robust voting initiative, remote learning assistance for parents and children, and the innumerable programs and services of the Federation cannot happen without financial support.

      Please consider joining the PAC Plan, or if you are already a member, please consider increasing your contribution. The recurring monthly contributions can be direct withdrawals from a checking account or charges to a credit card. New members will be contacted for their bank account or credit card information. Increased contributions from existing members will be debited from your existing account or charged to the card on file unless you wish to change this.

      Details of the program and a form to sign up or increase your contribution are available at:

      Please select Virginia in the affiliate to be credited field. If you have questions or would prefer to work with someone over the phone, call 877-NFB 2 PAC. Or 877 632-2722.

      Once you have filled out the form or called and left a message, please send an email to our Virginia Pre-Authorized Contribution (PAC) Chair, Christine Grassman to tell her the following:

      · Your Name
      · New PAC or Existing PAC
      · Monthly Increase Amount

      Email this information to Christine at:

      Requesting Help or Assistance

      If you need assistance from the NFB of Virginia (such as helping a blind child get a strong education, getting access to blindness skills training, learning to use NFB-NEWSLINE®, or resolving an employment discrimination problem), please email our help line, You may also call the NFBV Help Line at: 703-672-1339. You may use this line to ask technical questions if you are having trouble logging into any of our Zoom sessions. Any questions that require the attention of President Soforenko will be forwarded to his attention. In certain cases, please know your inquiry may not be addressed until after the convention.

      Closed Captioning

      Closed Captioning is available through Zoom for the following sessions:

      · Saturday Morning General Session
      · Saturday Evening Keynote Session
      · Sunday afternoon General Session

      The link to access these captions is:

      Instructions for accessing closed captioning services can be found at:

      Sunday, October 25, 2020

      7:00 P.m. to 9:00 p.m. Advancing the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia by Empowering Black Members Info Session:
      Meeting ID: 829 725 6345

      We invite you to rejoice and celebrate the accomplishments of Black trail blazers in the Federation. We are calling on you to help us build a more inclusive Affiliate, as we collectively strive to combat racism and other forms of discrimination. Our keynote presentation will be from Ron Brown, Second Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind. All are welcome to participate.

      Monday, October 26, 2020

      Partnering with the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired
      Meeting ID: 829 725 6345

      7:00 p.m. to 7:05 p.m. Welcome Remarks: Tracy Soforenko, President.

      7:05 p.m. to 7:20 p.m. Open the Doors Wide Open: Virtual Learning at VRCBVI: A Panel discussion with students who embraced virtual training: Melody Roane, Director, Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired, Moderator, Richmond Virginia.
      · Marie Presume, Montross, Virginia
      · Rachel Collins, Roanoke, Virginia
      · Yasiah Hurtado, Mechanicsville, Virginia

      7:20 p.m. to 7:35 p.m. Rehabilitation Services for the Blind in Virginia. Raymond Hopkins, Commissioner, Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired.

      7:35 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. Questions and Answers with Commissioner Hopkins.

      7:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. Public Meeting on DBVI Divisions, Programs and Services: Susan K. Davis, Policy and Training Coordinator, Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired.
      We are grateful that DBVI will hold a public meeting where attendees can ask questions and speak with agency leadership. DBVI wants to hear from you so come and share your thoughts and ideas on how DBVI can better meet the needs of blind and low vision Virginians. Let your voice be heard.

      Tuesday, October 27, 2020

      6:00 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Vispero: Empowering Independence. Silver sponsor.
      Meeting ID: 829 725 6345

      With so many people impacted by vision loss, it is important to understand that there are solutions available to help. Whether the need is to be able to read printed materials such as magazines and mail or digital material such as news websites and taking online classes, we can help. As a leader in this space, Vispero has products and solutions to help individuals remain independent at home, at school or in the workplace. Our solutions include; low vision hardware with electronic magnifiers, hardware for the blind such as refreshable braille displays, as well as software solutions that include screen reading and magnification for both low vision and blind individuals.

      7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Virginia Organization of Parents of Blind Children Annual Meeting, Beth Sellers, President, Virginia Parents of Blind Children.
      Meeting ID: 829 725 6345

      Whether you have a newborn infant or your child is a working adult, you are warmly invited to our annual parents of blind children meeting, where we brainstorm, reflect, and learn together to set our children up for success. Throughout the evening, we will hear from successful blind adults in the workforce and participate in interactive conversations on the school systems and supporting our children toward confidence and independence. The parents support network is stronger with your voice involved.

      Wednesday, October 28, 2020

      6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Seniors Division Seminar and Business Meeting: Blindness Does Not Define Us. Nancy Yeager, President.
      Meeting ID: 829 725 6345

      Join us to hear seniors share their stories of adapting to vision loss and learn about the gadgets we use to get things done.

      8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Parenting in a Pandemic: Virginia Blind Parents Seminar. Jessica Reed, facilitator.
      Meeting ID: 320 202 6798

      Parenting during a pandemic is a difficult juggling act. Parents are balancing the education of one or more children, finding activities for kids when so much is off-limits, all while working full-time, maintaining a household, and investing in relationships. Fortunately, blind parents have great resources they can use to help them succeed. In this seminar, learn about a network of resources you can use in your family and your community.

      · Join a Parenting Club - There is no better time to shatter those misconceptions and fears we have about getting involved in local sighted parenting communities Dash join Shannan Fingerhut president of moms offering mom‘s support Fredericksburg chapter on what a parenting club in your area can do for you.
      · Improve Your Juggling - Learn some tricks and share your own experiences juggling kids, jobs, relationships, and the stresses of being a blind parent. listen as Lisa Maria Martinez, professional life coach and blind parent of three children, details specific strategies on managing stress during this difficult time.
      · Tap the Blind Parents Network - Melissa Riccobono, first Lady of the National Federation of the Blind, is a blind parent with blind and sighted children. She is eager to take on questions and help you connect with parents and resources from across the country.

      Thursday, October 29, 2020

      6:00 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. VANDA Pharmaceutical, a Platinum Sponsor.
      Meeting ID: 829 725 6345

      A specialty pharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of novel therapies to address high unmet medical needs and improve the lives of patients, such as those with Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder (Non-24).

      7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Virginia Association of Blind Students Seminar and Business Meeting, Nick Petrillo, President.
      Meeting ID: 829 725 6345

      If you are a student of any age, this evening item is for you! Think interactive icebreakers, engaging discussion, and high energy programming all in one session! Join students across the Commonwealth to share, learn, and grow until late hours of the evening. During this seminar, you will be introduced to successful and ambitious blind professionals and students, confident and independent throughout their lives. This evening will afford all students with an opportunity to ask questions, learn from others, and engage in exciting activities to learn how to excel in and out of the classroom.

      7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Raising the Bar: Virginia Chapter Leadership Institute. Joe Orozco and Domonique Lawless, Co-Coordinators. "Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected."--Steve Jobs. By invitation only for members of the 2020 and 2021 CLI classes. This will serve as the inaugural meeting for the incoming group and the farewell for the outgoing participants. Meeting details will be provided in advance of the convention.

      9:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Scholarship Mixer: Jimmy Morris, Chairperson.
      Meeting ID: 320 202 6798

      Friday, October 30, 2020

      5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Resolutions Committee: Deepa Goraya, Chairperson.
      Meeting ID: 355 076 6032

      We encourage the participation of all members in setting Federation policy, and the best way to influence policy is through resolutions. As a grass roots organization, we serve our movement through collective action, and such action begins with policy making and debate. Come help shape the policies of the NFB of Virginia. Please refer to the Principles of Engagement for details on how to voice your positions on the proposed resolutions.

      6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Virginia Association of Blind Merchants Division Business Meeting: Jimmy Cunningham, President, Virginia Merchants Division, Prince George, Virginia.
      Meeting ID: 320 202 6798

      6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. At-Large Chapter Meeting: Patrick Johnson, President.
      Meeting ID: 829 725 6345

      7:00 p.m. to 8:00p.m. Welcome to the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia
      Meeting ID: 355 076 6032

      All convention attendees are cordially invited to attend a welcoming Zoom meeting. President Soforenko and past president Fredric Schroeder will be on hand to preview convention activities and provide a historical perspective of the organization and how it grew into one of the leading affiliates it is today. If you are new to the NFB, come learn a little more about the extended family that could become your own.

      8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Virginia October Fest Party
      Meeting ID: 829 725 6345

      Join us for this virtual party where you can meet old friends, meet new connections, and enjoy drinks and snacks from your personal collection. Our Zoom room will have multiple break out rooms with different themes and our organizers will move you into one of the rooms when you arrive. If you want to check out a different room, drop off and dial in again. Join us for a fun evening to make connections and grow Your Network.

      Saturday, October 31, 2020

      General Session

      Meeting ID: 355 076 6032

      9:00 a.m. Call to Order -Tracy Soforenko, President, NFB of Virginia.

      9:00 a.m. to 9:20 a.m. Opening Ceremonies:
      · Invocation - Naim Abu-El Hawa, Board member, Potomac Chapter, Vienna, Virginia
      Presentation of the Colors and Veterans Salute
      · Pledge of Allegiance, Mae Anderson, BELL Academy In Home Edition, Christiansburg, Virginia
      · Federation Pledge, Leo Cantos, Project RISE Participant, Buena Vista, Virginia.
      · Star Spangled Banner, Shayla Winn, Midlothian, Virginia
      · Musical Celebration,

      9:20 a.m. to 9:50 a.m. National Report, Everett Bacon, Board Member, National Federation of the Blind and President, National Federation of the Blind of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.

      9:50 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Action Auction.

      10:00 a.m. to 10:10 a.m. Voting as If Your Life Depends On It - Without Risking Your Life, Eve Hill, Partner, Brown Goldstein & Levy.

      10:10 a.m. to 10:20 a.m. Finding Hope Through Hockey (and the NFB)-, Charlie Mitchell, Patent Attorney, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP and Member, U.S. National Blind Hockey Team, Alexandria, Virginia.

      10:20 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Advocating for Our Children: Addressing Our Kid’s Needs in a Crisis.
      · Fredric Schroeder, Ph.D. Fairfax, Virginia
      · A young braille reader and his mother
      10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Federation Grit: A Personal Journey Joanne Wilson, Federation Leader, Alexandria, Virginia.

      11:00 a.m. to 11:10 a.m. Action Auction.

      11:10 a.m. to 11:20 a.m. Introducing the 2020 NFB of Virginia James F. Nelson, Jr. Scholarship Finalists.
      · Jimmy Morris, Scholarship Committee Chairperson, Glen Allen, Virginia
      · Christopher Infante, the College of William & Mary, Henrico, Virginia.
      · Ryan Allen Gobble, Ferrum College, Abingdon, Virginia.
      · Utah Kershner, Virginia Tech University, Hot Springs, Virginia.
      · Michael Matthews, Virginia Commonwealth University, Yorktown, Virginia.

      11:20 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Reports and Announcements.

      11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Federation GRIT: The Power We Build Together, A Presidential Report, Tracy Soforenko, President, NFB of Virginia.

      12:00 p.m. General Session Adjourns.

      12:15 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. Embracing Our Diversity: Offering All a seat At the Table: uricka Harrison and Chris Walker- Co-chairs, National Federation of the Blind of Virginia Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Proudly sponsored by: T-Mobile, a Gold Sponsor.
      Meeting ID: 829 725 6345

      The National Federation of the Blind recognizes that our diversity is a core strength. This lunch, organized by the Diversity and Inclusion Committee features:
      · Shawn Calloway, National Federation of the Blind Diversity, and Inclusion Committee Co-Chair
      · Marilyn Baldwin, National federation of the Blind of Florida Diversity and Inclusion Chair
      After these presentations, we will break into groups to work collaboratively to suggest ways to make our Virginia Federation community more inclusive and vibrant.

      Saturday Afternoon Concurrent Seminars

      2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Real Struggles, Real Stories: Tapping Your Inner Grit. Joe Orozco and Dr. Frederic Schroeder, Facilitators. Proudly sponsored by VANDA Pharmaceuticals, a Platinum Sponsor.
      Meeting ID: 355 076 6032

      From the raw stories behind some of the organization’s most confident leaders to one of the FBI’s most prominent behavioral scientists, join us for this unique opportunity to explore grit from an emotional, physical, and psychological vantage point. If you have ever struggled with family, on the job, or as a leader, from everyday stress to high steaks crisis, this meeting is a must on your convention agenda.

      2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Employment Seminar: Planning, Promoting, Pivoting, and Prospering. Kathryn Webster, facilitator.
      Meeting ID: 829 725 6345

      If you are new to the job market, interested in changing course in your career, wanting to learn tips on upward mobility, or just overall interested in being successful, this seminar is for you. Attendees will learn about skill development, branding, networking, and putting your strengths to practice in whatever your destiny is.

      2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Utilizing Accessible Technology during and after the Pandemic. Tajuan Farmer and Sean McMann, co-facilitators.
      Meeting ID: 320 202 6798

      Have you been at home for the last seven months? Are you wondering how to maintain a connection with your family and friends or asking yourself how can you enjoy drinks and a meal virtually? Have you been unable to shop at your favorite grocery store? Times are challenging. Technology can and will make it easier. You have the resources right in front of you, whether they are on your computer, mobile phone or tablet. This seminar will introduce attendees to technology that allows you to complete daily activities using accessible applications.

      2020 Convention Keynote and

      Halloween Celebration

      In Federation fashion, come dressed in costume and ready for a fine celebration with a keynote address by National Representative Everett Bacon.

      6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Trick Or treat: Speed Dining.
      Meeting ID: 829 725 6345

      Meet Old Friends, Make New Ones at this Virtual Banquet Meal. You will be moved to a new Zoom breakout table every 10-15 minutes.

      7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Keynote Program - Fredric Schroeder, Master of Ceremonies and Past President, NFB of Virginia:
      Meeting ID: 355 076 6032

      · Invocation-Rachel Schreiman, Volunteer soloist and music teacher, Temple B’nai Shalom, Fairfax Station, Virginia
      · Keynote Address - Everett Bacon, Board Member, National Federation of the Blind
      · 2020 James F. Nelson Scholarship Awards Presentation-Jimmy Morris, Scholarship Committee Chairperson, Glen Allen, Virginia
      · Action Auction - Jacki Brown and Laurie Wages, Auctioneers
      · Drawings and Announcements

      Sunday, November 1, 2020

      General Session

      Meeting ID: 355 076 6032

      1:00 p.m. to 1:05 p.m. Invocation - Jeannette Gholson, Richmond Chapter, Richmond, Virginia.

      1:05 p.m. to 1:20 p.m. Highlight of the Summer: Braille Enrichment for Literacy & Learning (BELL) Academy In Home Edition.
      · Louise Walch, BELL Coordinator, Virginia Beach, Virginia
      · Sandra Fletcher and her granddaughter Naliyah Miller, Parent and BELL Academy Student, Withams, Virginia
      · Danielle Krug, BELL Student Mentor, Haymarket, Virginia
      · Julia Ford, Work Placement Coordinator, Project RISE, Arlington, Virginia

      1:20 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. How the Board Can Work with You to Advance the Goals of the Blind in Virginia, Mazen M Basrawi Chairman, Virginia Board for the Blind and Visually impaired, Alexandria, Virginia.

      1:30 p.m. to 1:40 p.m. Having and Keeping a Can-Do, Want To Attitude. No matter How Difficult Times - Jeffery Lucas, Pastor, Riverview Independent Gospel Church, Stanley, Virginia

      1:40 p.m. to 1:50 p.m. Equipping Our Youth for Success through Project RISE.
      · Kathryn Webster, Project RISE Program Coordinator, Alexandria, Virginia
      · Desmond Walker, Project RISE Participant
      · Kate Firehammer, Project RISE Participant

      1:50 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Reports and Announcements.

      2:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Interactive Town Hall Discussion with Everett Bacon, Bord member, National Federation of the Blind and Tracy Soforenko, President.

      2:30 p.m. to 2:40 p.m. Students are Carving a Path in a New Era of Education - Trisha Kulkarni, President, National Association of Blind Students, Dayton, Ohio.

      2:40 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. Business Session:
      · Nominating Committee Report, Fredric Schroder, Nominating committee Chairperson
      · Elections
      · Resolutions-Deepa Goraya, Chairperson
      · Audit Committee Report-Sean McMahon, Chairperson
      · Treasurer’s Report-Mark Roane, Treasurer
      · SUN Committee Report: Sandy Halverson, Chairperson
      · PAC Report: Christine Grassman, Virginia PAC Chairperson
      · 2021 Richmond and Washington Seminars
      · 2021 National Convention, June 30 - July 5, New Orleans, Louisiana
      · 2021 NFB of Virginia Convention, October 29 - October 31, Westin Tyson’s Corner, Falls church, Virginia

      3:50 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Reports and Announcements.

      4:00 p.m. General Session Adjourns.