Leadership

Like our parent organization, the National Federation of the Blind, we are a membership organization. As such, our leadership is elected annually by our membership. Those serving in a leadership capacity not only represent the membership, but are also entrusted to chair committees and conduct the business of the organization.

Each member of our leadership has their own personal experiences with community service, a passion for the work of the National Federation of the Blind, and a strong belief in blindness and the capacity of all blind people.

Get to Know Our Board of Directors

Darian Smith, President

Darian Smith enters into his fourth term as president of the National Federation of the Blind Community Service Division.

Born and raised in San Francisco, California, Darian came to know of the National Federation of the Blind in 2001, but became an active member of the organization in 2008. His involvement in the movement has helped to strengthen his belief in blindness and allowed him to recognize the low expectations society traditionally holds of his blind brothers and sisters.

At first Volunteerism was just a thing that Darian did. it wasn’t until joining an AmeriCorps program called the National Civilian Community Corps (AmeriCorps NCCC) that community service became something he looked upon differently. In NCCC, Darian was selected to participate in a corps of about three hundred other young Americans from across the country. He was the only blind person in the group.

Once assigned to his ten-person team, he traveled to parts of Colorado, Texas, and Alabama, embarking upon one of the most formative experiences of his life. He did a number of things while in the corps, including constructing trails and his understanding of team work. he assisted people in reclaiming their lives post hurricane Ike and helped to revitalize a community while undergoing significant transformations as a corps member, teammate, and person. However, by far his biggest highlight was being chosen to take part in a program where he mentored at-risk youth because of the great conversations and wonderful lessons that both he and the youth shared with each other.

It was also in NCCC where he felt some of the most hurtful forms of discrimination. He experienced times where his desire to serve and learn was overpowered by people’s fears and concerns. These fears and concerns relegated him to the sidelines of service on more than one occasion.

This experience sparked within him the dream of a group where the blind can come together to think of the ways that they can use the power of volunteerism/ community service as a tool to educate, equip, and empower the blind as fully participatory, well -rounded, and fully capable members of society. He knew, through his active participation in the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind, that the organized blind routinely give of their time, talent, and resources to help other blind people live the lives they want to live, and he hoped that this group would change the narrative of the blind as the people who need to be served and turn it into a narrative where the blind themselves do the serving.

At times, he experienced hesitancy and push back when wanting to help those who were not blind. It was for this reason that he hoped that this group would encourage each other to use their talents and energy, both collectively and individually, to fix the problems in their local communities that might not be based in blindness and to do so by serving alongside their sighted neighbors. He hoped that by doing this, eventually more and more people would see the long-held truth about blindness, that it is not the characteristic that defines a person and their abilities.

Eventually, after many years and much hard work, with the love, hope, and determination of himself and many friends, the dream became a reality. Today, the Community Service Division’s contributions make a difference to himself and to others.

Ronnie Bellomy, Vice President

Ronnie Bellomy is a member of the Fort Worth, Texas, Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. This is her third year as a member of the National Federation of the Blind, and she joined the Community Service Division at last year’s National Convention. She has participated in numerous community service opportunities. Some of these opportunities include collecting books to promote literacy in the United States, conducting a food drive on her college campus to support the local family assistance organization, facilitating paper recycling, implementing a bottle/can recycling program on her college campus, assisting in collecting Christmas shoe boxes filled with needed materials and small toys for children in Mexico, and facilitating a faith-based activity program in diversely-populated neighborhoods with a team. Community service and the Community Service Division are important to Ronnie because She has a passion for service. She enjoys passing on the opportunities that many have provided her. It is important to Ronnie to continue to demonstrate that visually impaired/blind individuals can serve equally alongside their sighted peers.

Janae Burgmeier, Secretary

Janae is serving her first term as secretary of the Community Service Division. She has been a member of the Federation for ten years, but has become more active in the last few years. She regularly helps her local affiliate with projects including social media and outreach, BELL, State Convention planning, and Washington Seminar.

Janae is from Des Moines, Iowa, but loves to travel to new places. She has always been an active volunteer in her community and shows a strong interest in serving others. Janae served 2 years in AmeriCorps working with FEMA, Habitat for Humanity, United Way of Central Iowa, and The Evelyn Davis Center for Working Families. Janae keeps busy with a full-time job at Wells Fargo as well as with her studies for her Master’s in Business at Drake University. Wells Fargo encourages community service and allows team members several paid days a year to volunteer. Janae tries to find time to volunteer at several annual music festivals and participates in several LGBT organizations in her local community. Janae has gained many valuable skills and met so many interesting and influential mentors as a result of service. She is excited to get into the community and show people that blindness doesn’t hold her back and that blind people can give of their time to be active in helping their communities and are not just recipients of service.

Kyra Sweeney, Treasurer

Kyra Sweeney is from Santa Monica, California. Although she began attending conventions of the National Federation of the Blind at four years old, she truly became involved in the organization after attending a summer program at the Colorado Center for the Blind. Kyra counts community service as one of the most important and rewarding parts of her life. She has volunteered with the Los Angeles region of the American Red Cross for two years, working to assist survivors of disasters and to spread awareness about disaster preparedness. While attending college, she also volunteered at a local elementary school as a classroom assistant and tutor for students. Kyra believes in the potential of all blind people to contribute to their communities in valuable ways. As the treasurer of the Community Service Division, she hopes to connect members with one another so that experienced volunteers can help those who are just starting out to be confident in their ability to give back.

Chris Parsons, Board Member 1

Chris Parsons is from Colorado and works as a technology instructor at the Colorado Center for the Blind. Her family learned about the NFB when she was young, but she didn’t really become involved in the Federation until she attended National Convention in 2009 as part of the College Leadership Program. At that convention, she also got involved in building what eventually became the Community Service Division. Chris has participated in a variety of service projects, including setting up tables and items at Toys for Tots, planting seedlings at a nursery, tutoring at a local elementary school, putting together linen rolls at a food bank, brailling children’s books, and picking up trash along a highway. She loves helping people and giving back; however, she has always been a bit intimidated when it comes to jumping in and getting involved in a project, and she is admittedly not always sure where to begin. For this reason, she finds the Community Service Division particularly important as a network of resources and ideas and also a source of encouragement and support for blind people with all types of service experience. She feels that it is essential to meet people where they are in their service experience and help them to find projects that both interest them and challenge their and society’s beliefs about the capacity of blind people.

Johna Wright, Board member 2

Johna is from the rural town of Thomson, Georgia. She is a current sophomore at Mercer University, and she is studying Psychology with minors in Creative Writing and English on the Pre-Law track. She hopes to become a disability rights attorney and work for a non-profit organization, while also devoting a portion of her time to national and community service. She is a Service Scholar, an elite group of university honor's students at Mercer that devote much of their time to service, and she is planning a trip to South Africa in order to serve the local community. She also serves on the executive board of MerServe, the service engagement committee at her university, and enjoys helping many students get involved in whatever way they choose.

Johna is an active volunteer with the American Red Cross. She is a certified shelter worker, Disaster Action Team (DAT) member, Disability Integration Specialist, and on-call house fire responder. Johna is also CPR/first aid/AED certified through the American Red Cross. She has always had a passion for service and strives to prove that blind people can give back as opposed to only receiving from others. She hopes that as a Community Service Division board member, she can assist both blind and sighted individuals while also growing as a leader.

Jeanetta Price, Board member 3

Jeanetta Price resides in Beaumont, Texas. She is the In-School-Suspension Instructor at Memorial High School in Port Arthur, Texas. In this role, Jeanetta addresses multiple challenges and disciplinary issues related to the student population in addition to providing a safe and structured learning environment that promotes positive behavior change.

Jeanetta is a graduate of Lamar University with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She is also a strong advocate of equality and opportunity for all despite their disability. She has served as president of the National Federation of the Blind of Texas Golden Triangle Chapter for the past four years. She is a newly elected board member of the Community Service Division.

Jeanetta volunteers with various community service projects and holds a number of leadership roles. She is a visionary in the mission of destroying the misconceptions and stereotypes that have impaired society's views about the notable qualities of people who are blind.

Jeanetta humbly accepts her responsibility as a public servant. She has no doubt that giving back is the platform of success and that making a difference is her divine purpose.