John M. Rafferty joined CNIB in March 2009 as the organization’s eighth president and CEO, with a goal of combining his business background with a strong desire to give back in his career. Achieving social equality for Canadians with vision loss is one of his passions. Rafferty has a particular interest in creating a vision health plan for Canada and improving employment issues for blind or partially sighted Canadians. Along with his track record in business leadership, John brings to CNIB an international perspective gained through years of living and working abroad. Born, raised and educated in England, John has held senior leadership roles with Dun & Bradstreet Canada, Verizon Information Services in Canada, Poland and China, British Telecom in the United Kingdom, and Canpages in Canada.
Dr. Keith Gordon, CNIB Vice President, Research and Service Quality, joined CNIB in the Spring of 2007 after more than 30 years spent in the ophthalmic industry, where he was responsible for a wide range of research and scientific activities. He is responsible for managing the research operations of CNIB, including the CNIB Baker research grants and fellowship programs, and is committed to utilizing research to ensure ongoing, evidence-based vision rehabilitation services at CNIB and the maintenance of service quality. Dr Gordon’s goals for CNIB research are to establish a research enterprise of the highest standards dedicated to vision rehabilitation, ophthalmic epidemiology and vision public health. Dr. Gordon’s primary research interests lie in the area of ophthalmic epidemiology. His academic qualifications include an M.Sc. in Epidemiology, a Ph.D. in Bio-organic Chemistry and an MBA. He is an adjunct professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Toronto.
Debbie can best be described as an all-around information hound fueled by a healthy dose of curiosity. She believes that knowledge equals empowerment, which enables people to make informed decisions that affect their daily lives. Debbie currently works in Strategic Relations And Engagement as Coordinator, Accessibility And Braille Promotion at CNIB. She recently facilitated the roll out of Unified English Braille across Canada. In her advocacy role, she works with city staff to improve access to goods and services, and with local transit agencies to enhance way-finding strategies, and provide recommendations on usability. Debbie is an avid user of screen reading technology, braille displays and mobile devices. Debbie is currently a member of the Braille Authority of North America signage committee.
Daniel was CNIB’s National Manager, Working-Age Services and Employment Accommodation. In this role, Daniel worked with assistive technology, employment and other staff to ensure that CNIB, in conjunction with external agencies, provided services that help adults with vision loss develop the confidence, skills and opportunities they need to fully participate in life. Daniel worked actively with clients and lead a number of CNIB and external committees. He has expertise in wireless accessibility and program management gained from his previous work in the Telecommunications industry. He holds a Master of Engineering Degree from the University of Toronto and a Doctoral Degree from Western University. His doctoral research was in the area of Health and Rehabilitation, specifically in “product selection by persons with vision loss.” As of 2015, Daniel is no longer with CNIB.
Diane Bergeron is Executive Director, Strategic Relations and Engagement for CNIB. She is the mother of two adult children and is a strong advocate for the rights of people with sight loss in Canada. Diane started her participation in sports later in life at the age of 47. Since then she has made up for lost time completing several events, including three half ironman events and in 2015 she took on her first full Ironman. Although Diane did not complete the full event, she hasn’t given up and is working towards her second attempt in 2017. Diane has also competed internationally in dragon boat racing. Of the three events in triathlon, her favorite is swimming.
Aamer Khan currently works as a liaison between CNIB’s IT and business units. His role involves creating new solutions, exploring best practices and testing the current standards. He is also active in the community a member of the Trailblazers tandem cycling Club and advocates for people with Disabilities.
Shannon Simpson is a communications professional with a wealth of experience in media relations and public education. As a passionate writer, she loves to interview members of her community and share their stories. In 2011, Shannon joined Team CNIB to raise the organization’s profile throughout Ontario. She came to CNIB from one of Canada’s largest media companies. As a radio reporter and anchor, she covered breaking news, court cases and political issues. She also co-hosted a women’s health show. In her spare time, Shannon dabbles in photography. Her favourite moments are spent with her husband and fur baby, a husky-whippet mix.
Specialist, Government Relations, Government Relations and Advocacy
Marc Workman joined CNIB as National Manager, Advocacy in 2012 in the Government Relations and Advocacy department. He has a master’s degree in political science from the University of Alberta and is a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy at the same university. His academic work focuses on political theory and ethics – particularly as they relate to disability.
Marc has volunteered much of his time and energy towards advocating for greater access and inclusion for people with vision loss. He believes that if social and environmental barriers are removed, individuals who are blind or partially sighted can lead productive, meaningful lives and participate fully in their communities. When not working or studying, Marc enjoys reading, swimming, and hanging out with his guide dog, Nairobi.
Debbie Ryan leads CNIB’s Vision Health Promotion for Newfoundland and Labrador. She joined CNIB as a client and volunteer board member until 2003, when she took on the role of Communications and Corporate Development. What motivates her every day is the knowledge that, like most Canadians, prior to being told she was losing her vision, she believed that if you have 20/20 vision, you don’t need to have your eyes examined. With a background in broadcasting, public and media relations, Debbie has also served as a member of the St John’s Mayors Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities and Husky Energy’s Diversity Committee for eight years.
Seniors Coordinator, Services and Operations (Barrie, Ontario)
Janine is the Project Lead, Emergency Intervenor Services Program at CNIB. While attending the University of Western Ontario, Janine volunteered for CNIB Deafblind Services, an experience altered her path in life. She met an amazingly optimistic, spiritual and gentle woman who was deafblind. CNIB taught Janine how to communicate with this client by using the British Two-Hand Manual. This new concept of communication fascinated Janine, and she decide to pursue a career as a Sign Language Interpreter. In 1995, Janine returned to CNIB and has worked in Deafblind Services for the last 19 years. Currently, Janine is working on implementing a new Emergency Intervenor Services Program. Janine is passionate about supporting the needs of people who are deafblind. She believes awareness is the key; conflict and injustice is rooted in ignorance. It is only through awareness and understanding that change can happen. Janine won the See Beyond, Go Beyond award for ‘Empowerment’ in 2013 for the Ontario West region.
Specialist, Deafblind Literacy, Deaf Blind Services – General (London, Ontario)
Andrea started her career with CNIB in June of 2012 as a duel certified Orientation and Mobility and Independent Living Specialist. She received her post-graduate certification from Mohawk College in 2008 (ILS) and 2010 (O&M). Andrea enjoys that each day on the job she is able to work with a variety of different clients and use creative solutions to solve new challenges. She finds it extremely rewarding working with clients to help them accomplish their goals after vision loss. In her spare time, Andrea enjoys spending time at her family’s cottage and horseback riding.
Shanna has 15 years experience as an O& M and has been dually certified O&M/EIS for six years. She is based in Thunder Bay and provides services to clients throughout Northwestern Ontario. Shanna is passionate about working with children and empowering their families. She feels strongly that children of all ages and at all levels of development should receive the services of an Orientation & Mobility Specialist.
Monique Lalonde, Specialist, Assistive Technology has been employed at CNIB since 2001. She has extensive experience with computers, accessible devices and electronics in general. Her passion for seeing others become more independent through the use of assistive technology is what drives her to do her job.
Known around the local office as TechNicol, Mark Nicol has worked as an adaptive technology specialist since 2007. Mark endeavors to find relevant technology solutions for those whom he assists. Mark loves to observe the light bulb moments when people realize the enabling power of adaptive technology. When he's not buried nose deep in device manuals, power cords and progress bars, Mark can often be found making landscape and travel photographs or walking his dog, Wookiee.
Director, Government Relations and Advocacy, Government Relations and Advocacy
Specialist, Career and Employment Services
Lynn Jensen's strongest characteristic is determination, or what she prefers to call stubbornness. Soon after graduating from UBC's School of Nursing, she unexpectedly lost her vision. As soon as she could, she went to Mohawk College in Ontario for one year to get her post-graduate diploma. Then she headed back to Vancouver where she joined CNIB. She just celebrated her 13th year as a certified vision rehabilitation therapist. Lynn also writes the Dear Izzy independent living skills advice column for clients at CNIB, is an active speechmaker at Toastmaster's, and has written articles for the nursing profession, nursing homes and doctors showing how best to support patients with vision loss. Lynn’s favourite hobby is eating, though you wouldn't know it. She swims in the ocean with her guide dog, spends time with her identical twin sister, and loves to write.
Carolyn Young is CNIB’s National Corporate Communications Specialist. She joined CNIB in 2013, and has spent the past year learning everything she can about vision loss in Canada and working with Canadians who are blind or partially sighted. Before coming to CNIB, Carolyn worked for the Health Council of Canada, a national body reporting on health care. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University, and spends her spare time playing soccer and travelling. Carolyn’s blogs cover corporate activities, CNIB events and vision health promotion.
Martin has been in the accessible technology industry since 1985. He is fully bilingual in French and English. He completed his Braille Transcription and Bilingual Braille proof reading certification. He was Supervisor of Reader Services at the CNIB Library and has technical support expertise in non-profit organizations and the Accessible Technology Industry. His passions include: Braille, music, popcorn and Kermit the frog. In his spare time, Martin tinkers with computer hardware and software, loves to hike, bike ride and is an avid member of Trailblazers Tandem Cycling Club. As of 2014, Martin is no longer with CNIB.
The National Youth Council provides a voice for youth who are blind, deafblind, or partially sighted and gives them the opportunity to influence change and increase awareness of issues facing Canadian youth living with vision loss. We act to ensure that current initiatives, new programs and policies are reflective of and responsive to the needs of youth with vision loss.
Dear Izzy is an anonymous advice column that offers solutions to everyday challenges for people with sight loss. Izzy is the pseudonym for Vision Loss Rehabilitation BC’s (VLRBC’s) Lynn Jensen. Lynn has worked at CNIB/VLRBC for over 16 years as a vision rehabilitation therapist. In this role, she teaches adaptive skills for independent living, including meal preparation skills, basic sewing skills, make-up application, and braille.
Podcast host Christine Malec is a totally blind CNIB client with a life-long history of exploration and self-advocacy. An education in the mainstream school system, and wandering down multiple career paths prepared her to ask the challenging questions, and consider the answers with thoughtful curiosity. She’s been a busker, a server at a dine-in-the-dark restaurant, a massage therapist, and a blogger, but it is her writer’s love of story-telling that she brings to the podcast. As a woman who strives to enjoy life as much as possible, she views blindness as just one quality in a person, and not the defining one. Her interest in the lives of others concerned with vision loss is at the heart of this podcast, and she brings her lively and sometimes irreverent approach to sharing our stories.