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President’s Update, April 2016

Posted in NFBI President's Update

The highlight in April was our state convention, which was held at the Red Lion hotel in Lewiston. With 85 people registered for the banquet, this was the largest convention in recent history. There were many factors that lead to the success of the convention. The Palouse Empire Chapter, our newest Idaho chapter, under the leadership of President Joe Thompson, stepped forward and really carried the ball.

The ICBVI staff in the Lewiston office, Shane Hyde, Gayle Worthington, and Guyla Tiede did much to insure convention success. The office sent out fliers to the community to inform people of our Friday product and services expo and our senior seminar. Shayne Hyde helped to get convention donations, and was co-chair for the Friday night open mic, and Gayle Worthington, with contributions from her 2 Eastern Star chapters, provided food and help for the hospitality room. I know that these individuals also helped direct people to the different activities and assisted wherever they saw a need.

Linda Upton, ICBVI VR counselor for the Twin Falls area, brought 3 high school students who participated in all of the student convention activities. She also provided transportation for Chris and Judy Jones.

Speaking of transportation, I thank everyone who drove vehicles so that all of us who don’t drive could get to and from convention. Drivers that I know of included Larry Bateman, Linda Upton, Leslie River, Glen Compton, Mary Symms—Pollot, Vicki Bizallion, Harry Gawith and Alorah Neibaur and her husband. I know there were drivers that drove members of the Palouse Empire chapter to Lewiston.

As a result of the hard work of Sean Malone, from the Snake River chapter, I was interviewed by a reporter from the Lewiston Tribune. The story ran on Saturday, and I have received phone calls from people who read the article asking for more information about the NFB.

Michael Ausbun, National Association of Blind Students (NABS) board member, provided excellent leadership to the approximately 14 students in attendance. Hopefully they have a strong foundation to bring about the formation of an Idaho student division.

Our national representative, Pam Allen, provided excellent information on our national activities, as well as an inspirational banquet speech, which is now on our website at the following link.

Dave Jolley provided convention streaming of the Saturday session. I extend my appreciation to everyone who helped in any way.

The Friday preconvention started at 8:30 with a class on the Victor Stream offered by Karl Smith. The class was packed. The product and services expo was well attended throughout the day, and vendors reported that they were busy during the entire expo. I visited the hospitality room and found federationists enjoying food and fellowship with other federation members and blind people from the community who had come to take part in our events.

During the evening board meeting, the 2016 scholarship class was introduced. An amendment change to our state constitution was read. Some arrangements for the national convention were proposed and voted on at the Sunday business meeting. Mike Gibson was appointed to complete Earl Hoover’s term as second vice-president, and the board approved this appointment.

The open mic event was a resounding success. Chris Jones and Shane Hyde were the M.C.’s. We had a variety of entertainment including a band headed by Justin Bonner of the Palouse Empire Chapter, vocal and instrumental solos, comedy routines, and dramatic readings. We have much talent in our federation, and I am looking forward to doing this event next year in Boise.

Our Saturday general session was filled with variety, and I believe had something for everyone.

  • Senator Dan Johnson, from Lewiston, talked about how we can effectively communicate with our legislators both in and out of session.Darlene Burke, Eric Peterson, and Jenny ford discussed progress and challenges with public transportation.
  • Sue Walker gave an update on the talking book program.
  • Mike Walsh, the new Rehabilitation Services Chief at ICBVI, talked about new transition activities for blind students, which are coming about as a result of the Work Force Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
  • Richard Rabito gave an introduction to non-24 Sleep disorder.
  • Ray Rosch talked about how we can benefit by helping others.
  • Pam Allen and Mike Ausbun helped lead a discussion on intergenerational chapter development. For me, the most important reminder is the importance of making a friendship with someone that you want to bring into the Federation.
  • Four members from the Palouse Empire chapter gave impactful presentations.
  • Erin Jepson talked about the challenges and rewards in adopting her daughter from Ethiopia.
  • Alanna Leonhardy spoke about her personal growth as a blind person traveling in China.
  • Pat Mittan talked about his job working as an auto detailer.
  • Drew Tomason talked about his work at a Lewiston radio station.


Sandy Streeter did a superb job as M.C. for our banquet. She was highly prepared and the evening events moved efficiently and smoothly. The scholarship winners were Leslie Mora, Boise, $2500: Alana Leonhardy, Moscow, $1500:  and Seth Loman, Coeur d’Alene, $1000.

Chapter charters were presented to Joe Thompson, President Palouse Empire Chapter, Mike Gibson, President Canyon County Chapter, and Elsie Dickerson, President Idaho Gems chapter. The Frank Smith award, an all-expense paid trip to our national convention, was presented to Joe Thompson. A new award the Harry and Jan Gawith service award was given to Sue Walker. Our pledge challenge raised approximately $10,600.00. I do not have the final total for the auction, but it was very successful. Thanks to Larry and Sue Sebranek who made the pledge challenge possible.

Russell Smith, Chris Jones, and Sandy Streeter were elected for another 2 year term at our Sunday business meeting. Joe Thompson was elected to complete Mike Gibson’s board term. We voted to provide $250.00 assistance for an individual attending the national convention who needs the assistance. The proposed change to the constitution was approved. Dana Ard was elected delegate to the national convention, and Mike Gibson was elected alternate. Chapter reports gave us all information about activities in the Federation around the state. Braille read-a-thon awards for 2016 were presented by Susan Ford.

I cannot begin to convey in this writing, the amount of enthusiasm and energy I felt at this convention. I thank everyone who attended and made this convention a huge success. We’ve shown we know how to build the federation. Let’s keep it up!

Dana Ard, President

National Federation of the Blind of Idaho

Phone (208) 345-3906 email



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