American Foundation for the Blind: Blind Leaders Development Program

People who are blind or visually impaired already hold professional leadership positions — every president of AFB since its inception being a notable example. Studies suggest that the benefits of hiring people with disabilities include improvements in profitability, competitive advantage, and inclusive work culture, to name just a few. Yet, few blind and visually impaired Americans are in top levels of leadership in the workforce. Creating the widespread systemic change AFB is pushing for requires an even more significant presence of people with vision loss at the highest levels, which is the idea behind AFB’s Blind Leaders Development Program.

Now accepting applications

Every year, AFB will select a class of 32 blind or visually impaired individuals: 16 emerging leaders as participants and 16 established leaders to act as their mentors. Over the course of this 12-month program, participants will:

  • Follow The Leadership Challenge curriculum by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner
  • Attend the 2020 AFB Leadership Conference
  • Participate in a series of webinars addressing how blind and visually impaired individuals can strengthen interpersonal skills
  • Engage with a blind mentor already in a leadership position

The Blind Leaders Development Program will increase participants’ effectiveness at higher levels of leadership, influence, and responsibility. The program will expand participants’ networks across sectors, creating opportunities to engage in leadership roles. As participants rise to greater levels of influence, they will be able to hire and mentor other blind individuals, creating a positive, upward trend.

Class of 2021 Schedule of Events
August 1, 2019: Applications open
November 1, 2019: Applications close
Mid-November 2019: Participants and mentors notified of selection
March 24 & 25, 2020: Leadership Challenge Workshop and Mentor Training in Arlington, VA
March 26 & 27, 2020: AFB Leadership Conference in Arlington, VA
April 2020 to March 2021: Bi-monthly webinar trainings, mentoring meetings, and coaching sessions