[Greater-Baltimore] Urging Your Support of Federation SAFE at 2021 NFB Convention

president at nfbmd.org president at nfbmd.org
Sun Jun 27 16:29:43 UTC 2021

Friends and Colleagues,

In the last few weeks, I’ve visited and spoken with many of our chapters about the below initiative.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to speak with the chapters that met early in the month about this initiative.  I invite anyone who wants to talk about it, anyone with questions, anyone wanting clarification, to reach out to me at 443-426-4110 or at President at nfbmd.org <mailto:President at nfbmd.org> .  


The NFB has been working incredibly hard to ensure the safety of all members.  We see this in the work of the Survivor Led Task Force.  We see it in the work of the Special Committee.  We see it in the work of the Training Centers, affiliate leadership throughout the country, and in the initiatives the Board of Directors and the President have put forward and implemented.  I whole-heartedly agree with President Riccobono that the SAFE Fund initiative is one of the cornerstones of our focusing forward as a movement.  I’ll add that I believe it is a critical initiative to help survivors focus forward.  


For those reasons, I’ll ask you to support this initiative with me.  And if you’re not sure, let’s talk about it so we can understand one another’s perspectives.  We all love this organization tremendously, and we want it to be the best version of itself.  Because of that, we are and will remain #StrongerTogether.






Ronza Othman, President

National Federation of the Blind of Maryland


Pronouns: she, her, hers


From: president at nfbmd.org <president at nfbmd.org> 
Sent: Saturday, June 12, 2021 7:08 PM
To: 'nfb-maryland at nfbnet.org' <nfb-maryland at nfbnet.org>
Subject: Urging Your Support of Federation SAFE at 2021 NFB Convention


Hi Everyone,

I urge you to read the below from President Riccobono regarding a new initiative that will come before the Convention in July.  This initiative is the Survivor Assistance to Facilitate Empowerment (SAFE) fund. I enthusiastically support this initiative and hope you will as well.  I plan to discuss this with chapters in the remaining meetings in June and also to facilitate a discussion about it at our Maryland Caucus on July 9.  I also invite folks to reach out directly to me to share your thoughts via phone at 443-426-4110 or President at nfbmd.org <mailto:President at nfbmd.org> .


Yours in love and fellowship,




Ronza Othman, President

National Federation of the Blind of Maryland


Pronouns: she, her, hers


From: President, National Federation of the Blind 
Sent: Saturday, June 12, 2021 11:59 AM
Subject: Urging Your Support of Federation SAFE at 2021 NFB Convention


Dear Federation Family,


Now is the time for Federation leaders to come together to support a bold new program of support within our movement. In 2021, I have urged us to use “forward Federation” as our motto. This comes partly from my roots as a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin—the state which proudly uses “forward” as its charge. A university where I learned that big bold ideas need the power of people to spread and make a difference. It also comes from my training as a graduate of the Colorado Center for the Blind where I learned the confidence and skills to live our philosophy in an ever expanding way every day. It also comes from the imagination and energy I receive from members of the Federation on a daily basis.


In our organization, we have been working on how we ensure that we meet the highest standards. As leaders, we have long valued and taken seriously our responsibility to keep the Federation safe even if we haven’t always known all of the right ways to do that. Providing support has always been a value I have heard promoted within the leadership conversations of the organization. Today I am asking you to take a bold step forward with me. 


A number of months ago I began talking with our survivor led task force about a program I wanted to initiate. In May I first pitched the idea to our national board and we have had extensive discussion on the topic. Earlier this week, the board endorsed the idea by adopting the proposed resolution which it will recommend to the 2021 national convention. I now share it with you and urge your support of the proposal. I further urge you to encourage support among your delegation. Among all the policies we will consider at the convention, I firmly believe the below is the most important for our future.


Forward is a future where all blind people can have confidence that not only will our organization respond to incidents through a clear, fair, and equitable code of conduct process, but that we will go even further to ensure that those who are harmed are offered the support they need to heal. Forward is a time when every blind person knows that they are safe in the Federation. Safe means challenged to be their best and most powerful self in a loving and supportive environment. Safe also means having confidence that inappropriate behavior is not permitted. Safe means we have a space where we can learn, grow, and build resilience. Safe means that this movement breaks down the barriers that might prevent each and every member from pursuing their dreams and fully participating in our movement. Federation safe is an extension of the bond of faith we have always held in marching together to transform our dreams into reality. We are stronger together and SAFE is our commitment to stick together.   


Study the below, think about it, ask questions about it, and do what you feel is right for the Federation. I already know that my heart and mind tells me the below policy is needed. This is why I am supporting it. This is why I spent the time to vet it through our survivor led task force. This is why I rallied unanimous support from our national board for it. This is why I intend to ask every member I can between now and our convention to vote in favor of this new fund. I trust the heartbeat of our movement and the will of the convention. I invite you to trust me in supporting this proposal. 


With love,

Mark Riccobono



National Federation of the Blind
Board Resolution

Adopted June 10, 2021


The Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind supports and recommends the below policy for consideration and adoption by the 2021 national Convention.


WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind was established in 1940 as this nation’s civil rights membership organization of blind people; and


WHEREAS, our organization places a high value on welcoming in all blind people to membership and creating a safe space for the exchange of information and ideas in order to work collectively toward our common interests as blind people; and


WHEREAS, on January 26, 2018, the Board of Directors reviewed existing Federation policies and established a national integrated Code of Conduct to more clearly communicate consistent expectations for appropriate behavior throughout the membership and to detail processes for receiving, investigating, and addressing violations of those standards; and


WHEREAS, the organization’s board of directors has committed to at least annual review and updating of the code and the processes supporting the code including incorporating feedback from members to ensure the Federation community is as safe and supportive as possible; and


WHEREAS, the organization acknowledges the courage of survivors in bringing forward their stories and the pressures that may make it difficult for survivors to feel safe in utilizing the code of conduct process; and


WHEREAS, individuals who are harmed by those who violate the Federation’s Code of Conduct may require additional support in order to heal from those incidents and fully participate in the organized blind movement: Now, therefore,


BE IT RESOLVED that the organization establish the Survivor Assistance to Facilitate Empowerment (SAFE) fund in an initial amount of $250,000 as a dedicated financial resource for providing therapy support to survivors of incidents where the Federation’s Code of Conduct is known to have been violated; and 


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the board of directors will have responsibility for overseeing the fund including but not limited to reserving financial resources for the fund, maintaining adequacy of the fund, reporting the fund financial status to the convention, assuring confidentiality of individuals who receive support, establishing and communicating eligibility criteria, engaging stakeholders in the fund planning, selecting and overseeing a third party claims administrator who will maintain the confidentiality of eligible survivors, and taking such other actions as may be necessary to develop and advance the fund program over time; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, consistent with the organization’s Code of Conduct, all steps will be taken in administering the fund to ensure that survivors are protected from retaliation based upon their use of the resources of the fund.



Mark A. Riccobono, President

200 East Wells Street, Baltimore, MD 21230

(410) 659-9314 | Officeofthepresident at nfb.org <mailto:Officeofthepresident at nfb.org> 

Twitter: @Riccobono

Pronouns: he, him, his





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The National Federation of the Blind is a community of members and friends who believe in the hopes and dreams of the nation’s blind. Every day we work together to help blind people live the lives they want. 



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