National Industries for the Blind (NIB), the nation’s largest employment resource for people who are blind, is recognizing the 10th anniversary of its Advocates for Leadership and Employment (Advocates) program in 2022.
The Advocates program provides two years of intensive training to high-achieving individuals who are blind working at NIB’s associated agencies who are interested in learning about the public policy process. Advocates represent the interests of NIB, its associated nonprofit agencies, and people who are blind in Washington, D.C. and at the state and local level. Advocates educate policymakers about the importance of providing meaningful employment for people who are blind.
“Thousands of people who are blind are working with NIB’s associated agencies every day in service to their communities and their country,” said NIB President and CEO Kevin Lynch. “Our Advocates play a critical role in advancing our mission—it’s so powerful when these individuals communicate to their legislators about what having a career means to them.”
NIB’s Advocates program teaches Advocates the ins and outs of the public policy process, so they can effectively engage members of Congress and their staffs about employment issues affecting people who are blind. In addition, Advocates learn to communicate about policy issues and the most impactful way to tell their personal stories. Admission into the program is highly competitive, and there are currently 55 active Advocates representing 37 NIB associated agencies.
“Our Advocates are truly an extension of NIB’s internal public policy team,” explains NIB Vice President for Public Policy Rick Webster. “They help us dive into the issues that are important to our community and help keep Capitol Hill up-to-date on what we’re doing. I’m proud of how far the program has come since day one and look forward to seeing it continue to grow.”
Each spring, the Advocates travel to Washington, D.C. to learn about current legislative priorities. Together, the Advocates and other representatives from NIB and its associated agencies meet with members of Congress and their staffs on key issues affecting the employment of people who are blind. In the next 10 years, NIB aims to expand the program to more congressional districts to serve as a voice for people who are blind throughout the country.
To learn more about NIB’s Advocates for Leadership and Employment program, visit https://www.nib.org/about/public-policy.
About National Industries for the Blind
Since 1938, National Industries for the Blind (NIB) has focused on enhancing the opportunities for economic and personal independence of people who are blind, primarily through creating, sustaining, and improving employment. NIB and its network of associated nonprofit agencies are the nation’s largest employer of people who are blind through the manufacture and provision of SKILCRAFT® and other products and services of the AbilityOne® Program. For more information about NIB, visit NIB.org.