The event will take place on Wednesday September 19th at 5:30pm in Room 2322 of the Rayburn Building, 45 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20515.
Introductory remarks provided by Senator John Boozman (R, AR).
Welcome by Jeff Todd, Chief Operating Officer, Prevent Blindness America.
In Going Blind, filmmaker Joe Lovett, who is losing his vision to glaucoma, learns that blindness does not equal death as he meets six inspiring people who have learned the tools and techniques necessary to have a full life with vision loss. Going Blind begins airing on public television stations in early October.
At the Capitol Hill Preview Screening refreshments will be served, a condensed version of the film shown, and a panel discussion afterward will include two characters from the film: Steve Baskis, an Iraq War veteran and Paralympian, who lost his eyesight in a roadside bomb attack, and Jessica Jones, an art teacher who lost her vision from Diabetic Retinopathy. Suleiman Alibhai, OD, an optometrist and low vision therapist, Robert Murphy, MD, an ophthalmologist and retina specialist, and Kim Hutchinson president of the Disability Funders Network will also be on the panel. Joe Lovett will moderate.
The purpose of the evening is to create a greater awareness among legislators of the rarely discussed issues that impact the daily function of the blind and visually impaired. We also want legislators to be aware of the positive impact vision rehabilitation services, and developing technologies have upon keeping the blind and visually impaired successfully engaged in their lives and work.
This event is made possible with help from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Blinded Veterans Association and Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation.
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Introductory Remarks by:
Senator John Boozman (R-AR)
Senator John Boozman, a successful businessman and life-long resident of Arkansas, was sworn-in as U.S. Senator on January 5, 2011. He graduated from the Southern College of Optometry in 1977 and entered private practice that same year co-founding a family business with his brother that would ultimately become a major provider of eye care to Northwest Arkansas. For five terms, John served the people of the Third District of Arkansas in the U.S. House of Representatives, establishing a reputation as an advocate for Arkansans, especially our veterans and our state’s infrastructure needs. While Ranking Member of the House Veterans Affairs Economic Opportunity Subcommittee, John played a crucial role in the government’s efforts to ensure veterans have a smooth transition to civilian life and authored key policy provisions that include improvements to treatments for service members afflicted with eye trauma and the reinstatement of veteran work study benefits under the GI Bill. In the 112th Congress, John has been selected to sit on four committees in the Senate: Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee; Environment and Public Works; Commerce, Science and Transportation; and Veterans’ Affairs. Prior to his election to Congress, John served two terms on the Rogers School Board, which is one of the largest school districts in the state. A low vision specialist, he established the low vision program at the Arkansas School for the Blind in Little Rock and worked as a volunteer optometrist at an area clinic that provides medical services to low-income families.
Jeff Todd, Chief Operating Officer, Prevent Blindness America
Jeff Todd joined Prevent Blindness America in early 2003, bringing with him a background in social service-related community-development with a primary focus on issues affecting the nation’s young people. In his role as Chief Operating Officer, he ensures integration of efforts across the organization’s various departments, coordinates the organization’s strategic planning, and works to expand external partnerships and communication within the vision and eye health community. He also directly oversees the public health and government affairs work of Prevent Blindness America. Jeff has a breadth of organizational experiences having worked in government, non-profit, and for-profit environments. Beginning his career in the Governor’s Office of the State of Indiana, Jeff coordinated a statewide community development initiative focused on substance abuse prevention. He then moved to a position with the Center for Youth as Resources, coordinating field operations for this national organization focused on positive youth development. Prior to Prevent Blindness America, Jeff managed the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center, a comprehensive resource of various federal government agencies, coordinated through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Jeff brings a diverse educational background to his work, including degrees in business and law from Indiana University and a Master’s degree in communications from Butler University.
Steve Baskis, Iraq War Veteran and Paralympian
Illinois native Steve Baskis was 22 and Private First Class in the Army when a roadside bomb north of Baghdad hit his vehicle. Steve was injured from shrapnel all over his body and nerve damage from the attack left him blind. He spent weeks rehabbing with orientation and mobility training at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital Central Blind Rehabilitation Center outside of Chicago. After leaving Hines in 2008, Steve became involved with Operation Mission Vision, the United States Association for Blind Athletes’ military support program. In 2010, Steve participated in the US Paralympic National Championships in cycling and won a bronze medal there. In July 2011 Steve visited Tanzania as a part of a service project to provide medical aid to blind albino Africans. Steve has climbed mountains and competed in races all over the globe and is pursuing a career in public speaking in order to share his story with others.
Jessica Jones, Art Teacher at Lavelle School for the Blind
Hello, my name is Jessica Jones and the handsome, furry gentleman in this photograph with me is my guide dog Willie. I lost my sight due to diabetic retinopathy 10 years ago. Prior to my sight loss, and since that time, I have been an art teacher in the New York City, NY state public school system. I am at this time teaching in one of our specialized 4201 New York state schools, the Lavelle School for the Blind and multiply-handicapped. An exciting new project that I am currently involved in is developing a program for veterans with one of our major art museums in New York City. It is my strongly held belief, due to both personal experience and working with my students over the years, that art is for everyone, no matter what one’s “dis”ability is.
Dr. Suleiman Alibhai, OD, Optometrist and Low Vision Therapist
Suleiman Alibhai O.D. received his training in optometry at the University of Houston College of Optometry. He then went on to complete a low vision fellowship at the Lions Low Vision Research and Rehabilitation Center at Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute in 1992. After being part of a large retina practice in the Metropolitan Washington DC area for 12 years seeing patients exclusively for low vision rehabilitation, he went on to develop a Low Vision Center as part of the INOVA health system in Northern Virginia, where he served as the Director of Low Vision Services for 3 years. For the past 9 years, he has also contracted with the National Eye Institute at NIH to provide low vision consultations to patients participating in different protocols at the Institute. Dr. Alibhai has now formed an independent low vision company which sees patients with low vision in Bethesda, MD and Alexandria,VA. His particular interests are patients with macular degeneration and issues pertaining to driving with low vision.
Dr. Robert Murphy, MD, Ophthalmologist and Retina Specialist
Dr. Robert Murphy graduated from Northwestern University Medical School and completed residencies in Internal Medicine at the University of California, Irvine, and Ophthalmology at the Stanford University Medical School. After completing fellowships in both medical and surgical retina at the Wilmer Eye Institute at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, he remained on the ophthalmology faculty at Johns Hopkins for twelve years before entering private practice. At Johns Hopkins he was the principal investigator of the Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study, the Macular Photocoagulation Study, the Age-Related Eye Disease Study, and participated in multiple other clinical trials for treatments of diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. He has continued his research interest in the clinical applications of photodynamic therapy for macular degeneration and has had a special interest in the development of Indocyanine Green Video Angiography for the diagnosis and treatment of age-related macular degeneration. At the Chevy Chase and Fairfax offices of The Retina Group of Washington, Dr. Murphy treats medical diseases affecting the retina including macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and retinal vascular diseases and finds an important part of treatment in many cases is to refer patients to low vision services.
Kim Hutchinson, PhD, MBA Disability Funders Network
Kim Hutchinson is President/CEO of Disability Funders Network.Kim has been a nonprofit management consultant, nonprofit executive, public health policy expert, and community advocate for people with disabilities for more than 20 years As an executive leader of multi-million dollar voluntary health organizations focusing on the disability field, she has demonstrated an ability in the areas of strategic planning and capacity building, crisis management and business turn-around, She was responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations as well as providing leadership in developing a long-term growth strategy for these organizations. Her focus has been to ensure full integration, independence and equal opportunity for all people with disabilities by removing barriers to the social, economic, cultural and civic life of their community. For 10 years prior to working in the not for profit sector, Kim was a versatile executive manager and lobbyist for a global commercial real estate development and construction company. Kim is a native of Virginia and received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Richmond, a master’s degree in business administration and a doctorate in public policy. She resides in Virginia, with her son, Zachary, and is an avid chef, golfer and artist.
Chris Danielsen, Director of Public Relations At The National Federation of the Blind
Chris Danielsen has been blind since birth and joined the National Federation of the Blind in 1989. Chris spent most of his life in South Carolina, where he served on the board of the Federation’s state affiliate. He moved to Baltimore to join the staff of the national headquarters of the Federation in 2003 and wrote for and edited various publications for three years. He has worked full time in the Public Relations office of the Federation since August of 2006 and became Director of Public Relations in January of 2009. He also serves as the President of the Greater Baltimore Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland. Prior to joining the Federation’s national staff, he worked as an attorney in private practice in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and as a law clerk to the South Carolina Senate Judiciary Committee. He has a B.A. in political science from Furman University and received his J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law. In addition to his Federation activities, Chris currently serves as president of the Baltimore Host Lions Club.
Joseph Lovett, Director of Going Blind: Coming Out of the Dark About Vision Loss
Joseph Lovett has accompanied Going Blind around the globe to increase public awareness of sight loss and low vision issues. Joe has been committed to raising awareness of critical health issues and advocacy throughout his career. He produced the first in-depth AIDS investigations for national television at ABC News 20/20. He later created In A New Light (ABC, 1992-96), an annual AIDS outreach and entertainment special. Joe’s continuing work against AIDS won him The AIDS Action Foundation AIDS Leadership Award. In 2001, Joe won a Peabody Award and an Emmy nomination for writing, producing and directing HBO’s Cancer: Evolution to Revolution. Joe has produced over 35 hours of programming for prime time television and award-winning independent films that inform, inspire and compel people into action.