National Industries for the Blind (NIB) is honored to present the 2020 R.B. Irwin Award to Dr. A. Gidget Hopf. The Irwin Award, NIB’s highest honor, recognizes Dr. Hopf for her innovative work creating employment opportunities for people who are blind.
Dr. Hopf recently retired as CEO of NIB associated nonprofit agency Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI) – Goodwill of the Finger Lakes, where she spent nearly 34 years growing the organization to employ more than 600 people in manufacturing, contact center services, food service, and Goodwill retail.
One of her earliest innovations was establishing a relationship with 3M corporation and securing a major contract to produce and distribute self-stick notes to the federal government. Today, the agency produces 37 products using 3M materials.
New and exciting employment opportunities followed the success of the self-stick notes. Contracts to sew Coast Guard and Air Force uniforms, and to produce eco-friendly cleaning products and a myriad of other products sold to New York State and federal government customers provided additional job opportunities and revenue to fund local mission services.
Most noteworthy has been Dr. Hopf’s determination to create opportunities for upward mobility for people who are blind, which led to the development of a call center more than 20 years ago. Starting with just two people, the contact center currently employs 80 individuals who support a variety of commercial and governmental contracts.
“We are delighted to honor Gidget with this prestigious award,” said NIB President and CEO Kevin Lynch. “Over her career at ABVI, her entrepreneurial spirit and passion for the people she serves in the greater Rochester area have had a profound impact. Gidget truly embodies all that is best about our program.”
The award is named for Dr. Robert B. Irwin, executive director of the American Foundation for the Blind in the 1930s and a member of the team who worked toward the formation of NIB.