[Ct-nfb] Passing the Torch

Esther Levegnale elevegnale at sbcglobal.net
Sun May 8 22:24:15 UTC 2016

Hey, Justin!

I just want to commend you on the wonderful job you did as legislative coordinator.  It's now time for you to take on new tasks and I wish you the best with your achieving your future goals.  It is without a doubt that you will be very successful in whatever tasks and positions you take on.

Way to go!


Sent From Esther's Amazing and Awesome iPhone 6+

> On May 7, 2016, at 1:10 AM, Justin Salisbury via Ct-nfb <ct-nfb at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> Fellow Federationists,
> At the 2011 National Federation of the Blind Convention, which was held at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Florida, I learned that workers with disabilities could legally be paid wages less than the federal minimum wage. We talked about the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act, and we gathered a petition to prevent the reauthorization of the payment of subminimum wages to workers with disabilities. I was one of five of our affiliate members who protested outside Senator Blumenthal’s office in Hartford, collecting signatures on the petition. I walked inside the office with Bo Diaz at the end of the protest. I hadn’t known it until then, but Bo had known Senator Blumenthal for decades. Two weeks later, I found myself having coffee at the Starbucks in Colchester with Senator Blumenthal. I was inspired, and I spent the rest of my evenings at home that summer canvassing the neighborhoods around the northwestern part of the Town of Willington on foot, collecting more signatures. I remember, on one night, I was looking for the doorbell at a house and stuck my finger into a hole; that hole turned out to be a beehive. At the next house, I found two pit-bulls and their owner, all shouting their desire that I never come on their property again. At the third house, I found a huge pool party and filled multiple sheets with signatures. I just kept pushing, learning new skills, and growing in the National Federation of the Blind. I had the honor of becoming our Legislative Coordinator in December of 2012, and it gave me a chance to take the Federation into the policy arena. I cannot imagine where I would be today if it were not for all that I have learned as our Legislative Coordinator.
> I have enjoyed serving as the Legislative Coordinator, but I know very well the importance of having someone who is physically in the state serving in this role. I also know the enhanced impact that I can have in the Federation if I focus on the state where I am physically present. It makes a big difference when someone can show up at a meeting or give a presentation. It was for this reason that I passed the torch to Edward Shaham when I moved to Wisconsin in 2013. Though I have been proud to carry the torch again after Edward became our President, it is for this same reason that I am passing the torch once again. We have been working together and achieving so much as an affiliate, and members of the Legislative Committee have rallied our affiliate to raise expectations and protect the rights of blind people in Connecticut. Effective Saturday, May 7, 2016, I will no longer be serving as Legislative Coordinator of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut. President Edward Shaham has informed me that he is appointing Jim McCollum, both of the Southern Connecticut Chapter and the Legislative Committee, to carry the torch as our new Legislative Director. I think that he has made a fine choice, and I look forward to working as a member of the Legislative Committee to support him as we all stand together to advocate for our rights.
> This spring, we all stood up against a bill with a lot of momentum. Some people in our state thought it would be a good thing to force health insurance providers to fund the acquisition of guide dogs for blind people. We, the blind, knew how wrong this was, and we wanted nothing about us without us. The Insurance and Real Estate Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly had tried it in 2015, and we had stopped it dead in its tracks at the end of the session. They tried to rush it through at the beginning of this year’s session, but we were ready for them. We knew how to argue the issue, and a number of our affiliate leaders spoke at the public hearing. These and many more members submitted written testimonies, and our message was heard across the state, even in the newspaper. On May 4, 2016, the legislative session of the Connecticut General Assembly adjourned. In my last act as Legislative Coordinator, I would like to inform you all that we have successfully blocked Raised Bill 35. Our state government will not be changing the way that we acquire guide dogs.
> Thank you, everyone, for supporting me as Legislative Coordinator, and I look forward to seeing what new things we can achieve with Jim McCollum as our Legislative Director. I am sure that, wherever I go for a permanent, full-time position, I will make that affiliate better because of the growth that I have experienced in the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut.
> Let’s go build the Federation!
> Sincerely yours,
> Justin Salisbury, MA, NOMC, NCRTB, NCUEB
> Cane Travel Instructor
> Louisiana Center for the Blind
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