[Ct-nfb] Passing the Torch

Elizabeth Rival erival at comcast.net
Mon May 9 22:54:29 UTC 2016

Hi Justin, I along with ct. thank you for your work in ct. I also want to
congratulate Jim for his new venture and would like to let him know that I
support him and his efforts. yours, Beth 


From: Ct-nfb [mailto:ct-nfb-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Justin
Salisbury via Ct-nfb
Sent: Saturday, May 07, 2016 1:11 AM
To: 'ct-nfb at nfbnet.org'
Cc: Justin Salisbury
Subject: [Ct-nfb] Passing the Torch


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


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


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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