Open Board Meeting

Held at 2018 State Convention

May 25, 2018

Meeting called to order at 8:00 PM at the Hilton Tampa Airport Westshore, Tampa, Florida.

The Convention was streamed live thanks to Accessible360.

 Fernandez lead the NFB pledge.

 Present:  President - Denise Valkema, 1st Vice President - Paul Martinez, 2nd Vice President - Miranda Kilby, Secretary - Sylvia Young, Treasurer - Gloria Mills-Hicks, Board members:1 Tekesha Saffold, 2 Jorge Hernandez, 3 Camille Tate and 4 Rafael Fernandez.

National Rep present Pam Allen

 Secretary Report:  A motion was made by Saffold to accept the 5/3/17 minutes which were distributed via email; second by Martinez.  Approved by all and passed.

 President report:  I attended national host committee and national welcome committee calls, our iOS Q&A, convention planning call, events call, resolutions committee, the Ohio affiliate membership call, and the national Sports & Recreation call. I sent updates for NFB connect app and updates for Newsline Florida channel. Motion by email to have silent auction with highest bid to start our regular auction on the baskets passed and our motion by email to stream parts of the convention passed. I attended the Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind meeting in Palm Beach as I represent the NFB on this council. I met with a parent of a blind child in Miami. We met with hotel staff and vice president of the host chapter at our 2019 state convention site, Embassy Suites, Boca Raton. We have been finalizing plans for this convention. We are glad to have three Kenneth Jernigan convention scholarship winners this year.

 Treasurer Report:  Gloria reported our income for 2017 was $ 61,351.28, the expenses were $78,315.48 with a lost $16,964.20 noted for the year.  April’s Newsline account balance was $27,630.00, the operation account balance was $19,825.48, and our Investment account balance $155,645.00.  We received a check for $12,400 from The Higgins Fund.

 Division/Committee/Chapter reports:

Valkema reported: Broward Chapter has 7 members here and is proud to be sponsoring a student scholarship in memory of Tom Ryan.

Suncoast Chapter is proud to be cohosting our state convention and have been busy preparing for convention.

Florida is cohosting the national convention with Iowa and Virginia.  We will have opportunity to help welcome our family in the hospitality suite, at the welcome table, our exhibit hall table, and other areas during the convention.  We will be sending messages out to the list in June to sign up. Thank you for helping out.

 Martinez reported: Central Florida Chapter is excited about state and national conventions. President Sherri thanks everyone for the thoughts and prayers for Don, who is recovering well.

Daytona Beach Chapter excitedly created 2 baskets for the auction. They also have mapped out several guest speakers for the upcoming meetings.

State-Wide Chapter will be raffling off 5 75th anniversary lapel pins. Each ticket will be $1. The chapter created 3 baskets for the auction, and every member is excited that convention is here.

Fundraising Committee are excited to announce that we will be raffling off a stay at next year’s state convention in Boca Raton. Each ticket is $5, and we will be selling them up until our Florida caucus in Orlando. In addition, lapel pins for $5 are on sell, and don’t forget about our Amazing Trio Bundle. We also have planned to pie either President Valkema or 1st Vice Paul Martinez on Saturday, May 26th.

Sponsorship Committee announced this year’s winners for the sponsorships for National convention have been chosen and notified. Names will be released at a later date.

 Kilby reported: Tampa Chapter concluded all spirit days/nights to raise funds for

state convention. We will be alternating meeting locations starting in August. On odd months the chapter will meet in Brandon at O’Riley’s, and on even months at Beef O Brady’s to help grow the chapter and to introduce the NFB to potential members.

The Parents are working hard on the BELL Academy and will be selling one of a kind braille ornaments and cookies at state convention. So, support our BELL Academy and buy both.

The Communications Committee worked hard on advertising the convention on Face Book, Twitter, Newsline, The listserve, and our website. A huge thanks to everyone who worked on this project.

NFB411 next call will be in June, since we did not have a call in May due to Mother’s Day. Notifications will be sent out prior to the meeting.

The Convention Committee: The hosting chapters are excited that it is finally here.  Other chapters can help, so feel free to ask.

 Young reported:  The Tallahassee Chapter is excited about building the best basket for the State convention auction.  We will be traveling to the State Convention by van with 6 members one of which will be a 1st timer. We are selling 50/50 raffle tickets as a fundraiser to assist our members to National Convention.

The Jacksonville Chapter plans to bring 5 or 6 members to the convention and are excited.

The May/June Breaking Newsletter will be published a little late due to the convention. We will try to get it out by June 4th to give you a report on convention activities.  Look for lots of pictures from the convention.

 Saffold reported:  Palm Beach Chapter have about 6 members who will be attending the state convention. We are planning a spaghetti sale on June 23rd. We are also preparing for national convention.

Empowerment Committee will be selling candy during the state convention and is looking forward to the workshop Saturday.

 Hernandez reportedMiami-Dade Chapter is finalizing the second annual “Walk in the Park” for June 9th and flyers are being passed to invite friends, family members, an anyone else that wants to participate.  We had a guest speaker at the May meeting to speak to the members about civil rights.  The attorney talked to the membership about the bill in Tallahassee.  We are also planning two guest speakers in June; including Virginia Jacko – President and CEO of the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind Officials from “Emergency Management System” for Hurricane preparedness.  The membership is growing, and the chapter meetings are well attended.

Treasurer Coast Chapter new board is finally complete. The Vice-President was elected and took his position this May. The chapter is planning a Spirit Night in the upcoming weeks for fundraising.  The chapter is bringing 3 members to the state convention

 Tate reported: Melbourne Space Coast Chapter is excited about attending state convention and are bringing 6-chapter members, 3 of them, 1st timers. MSCC is also working on its 4th annual car and bike show October 13th. Additionally, considering a fundraising dinner in November or December. The chapter is also working on transportation in Brevard by meeting with County Commissioners at the upcoming county budget meetings.

The Florida Deaf Blind Division has completed planning of its seminar for state convention. Alicia Betancourt, President is creating an outreach plan using Face Book to bring in more members and help spread NFB philosophy for upcoming potential leaders. They will hold elections at the convention for all positions and implement outreach plans.

Legislation Committee will continue to work on agenda from National, including gaining co-sponsors in Florida for AIM HI and ATAA. Work will begin on parent’s bill following state convention. No meeting call in May due to meeting face to face at state convention. June meeting has not been confirmed, but will probably be Tuesday, June 19th at 8 p.m.

 Fernandez reported:  Gainesville chapter has been having a challenge regarding securing a location to hold monthly meetings. Membership has been suffering due to this challenge. I’d like to reach out to different chapter Presidents to see how we can better assist this chapter.

The Student Committee will hold a social Friday night at 10 PM, with fun and food to welcome in our scholarship winners and our students from across the state.

 Action items:

State Convention: announcements – We have Kenneth Jernigan raffle tickets for purchase for $10, see Denise for tickets.  Get 15% off beverages in the Café Breeze Lounge for those with badges.  The hotel is offering a limited lunch menu while we are here, details to be posted on the listserve.  Breakfast tickets already include tip.  The WiFi code in the meeting rooms is “Westshore1”.

Meetings that are on the agenda to be held in Gasparilla 4 were move to Bayshore 4; Gasparilla 3 move to Bayshore 4.  Assessable 360 is streaming our convention live this year.  Secretary and Treasurers Lunches will be in Gasparilla 4 along with the Nomination and President meetings.  The Hotel is an Aira Free zone, so you may use of Aira free.

 Scholarship winners introduced:  Michelle Yongue, Amanda Lannan, Shaquice Floyd

 Tate made a motion that the meeting be adjourned; second by Saffold. Approved by all and passed.  Meeting adjourned at 8:57pm.

 Respectfully submitted by Sylvia Young, NFBF Secretary


Convention Reports:

Saturday, May 26, 2018



Roll Call of Chapters and delegates for nominating committee

President/Rep Chapter                                   Alternate                     Members

Marilyn Baldwin         Central Florida            Tanya Dawson                        3

Lauren Blum               Suncoast                      Alicia Kilby                             5

Judith Hamilton           Gainesville                  Deborah Whitt                                    3

Marita Winston           Jacksonville                 Andy Rood                              6

Temika Butts               Treasurer Coast           None                                       2

Camille Tate                Space Coast                Joe Naulty                               6

Jada Christie               Tallahassee                  Donald Christie                       6

Tekesha Saffold          Palm Beach                 Nicole Fincham-Shehan          6          

Jorge Hernandez         Miami-Dade                John Johnson                           15

Maranda Kilby            Tampa                         Merry Schoch                         18

Paul Martinez              Statewide                    Juany Gomez                          10

Joe King                      Polk                             None                                       3

Jake McEntyre            Greater Broward         Deborah Ryan                         7

Brian Norton               Greater Daytona         Kathy Davis                            12


President Valkema annual report:  We have more membership participation on our teleconference calls. All our committees and divisions met to plan for this convention and assisted many throughout the year.  You will hear updates during our general session. Our fundraising committee has done our Lucky 7’s Raffle, lapel pins sales, and our Holiday Calendar Raffle. We applied for some grants this year. Our legislative committee has been working on state legislation and our national legislative agenda.  Our scholarship committee has met to award student scholarships, sponsorships to national convention and Washington Seminar. We had 9 on the hill for Washington seminar. The two host chapters had a planning meeting with the board last fall at this hotel and our committees for convention met regularly to plan this state convention. We have been using the White Cane lists and Slate & Stylus lists to reach out and connect others to our affiliate. Our Florida Parents of Blind Children Division helped plan our 2017 BELL academy in Daytona, we had a pilot BELL in Miami, and FPOBC is preparing for our 2018 BELL academy.  Our Florida federation family is building the federation!

  We continue to communicate with our leaders and provide leadership development. We had president committee calls chaired by most chapter presidents serving on our board and NFB 411 calls on meet the blind month, chapter officer responsibilities, networking and relationship development, NAC, and a code of conduct leaders call. We now have a book club call to discuss federation philosophy and a technology Q&A call. Jorge Hernandez went to web training and Rafael Fernandez went to leadership seminar. Jennifer Diamond with assistance from NOPBC and our affiliate attended the parent learning program at Washington Seminar. I attended a president’s retreat just prior to Washington Seminar 2018.

  We had 195 registered for national convention 2017 with around 80 at our Florida caucus.  Our board members met with chapters as liaisons and many members attended seminars, committee meetings, helped as marshals, ambassadors, worked independence market, and worked at our exhibit hall table. We had three Kenneth Jernigan convention scholarship winners. Our Florida federation family was seen everywhere!

  We are one organization national, state, and local. Our national office and other affiliates helped us after the hurricane and we helped our members, too. We participated in the Cardtronics testing and continue to do the rideshare testing. We have been helping students with accessibility issues and have been a resource for many in other ways. Thank you all. Let’s continue to build the federation sharing our love, hope, and determination all because we are the National Federation of the Blind.

Martinez moved that we accept president’s report.  It was second by Saffold.  Approved and passed by all.

Pam Allen, National Rep, brought news from the national office. Highlighted the KNFB reader, Newsline, Code of Conduct, Presidential Releases, legislation, NAC opposition, BELL Academy, voting accessibility, and supporting NFB through PAC and other funds.

 Sunday, May 27, 2018

Total Registered 120; Banquet 112

 FLAGDU Report

New Board:

President: Merry Schoch

Vice President: Marion Gwizdala

Secretary:  Sherill O’Brien

Treasurer:  Tom Bellone

Board Members:  Barbara Gaw, Michell Yongue, Kathy Davis

 Deaf-Blind Report

New Board:

President: Alicia Betancourt

Vice President: Brian Norton

2nd Vice president:   Brooke Evans

Secretary:  Marilyn Baldwin

Treasurer:  John Williams

Board Members:  Judy Hamilton, Joe Naulty

 Pam Allen, National Rep spoke on the NFB training at the Louisiana Center for the Blind.  Key points included Non-visual skills, curriculum core which includes braille, technology, cane travel, NFB philosophy, college or job readiness, and home management.  They also stress positive blind role models, challenging experiences, structured discovery learning, and connecting with the NFB family.

 Robert Doyle from the Division of Blind Services: Introduced new deputy, Robin Goldstone and spoke on DBS reorganizing, possible 3-year contract with Newsline, passing a bill related to workman comp allows students and adults in work-based training to be considered as state employees as far a liability concerns, focus on better outcomes and quality services.  He also answered pre-asked questions and made himself available to answer personal questions by members.

 The following members were recognized as Outstanding Members by their chapters:

Greater Broward Chapter – Linda Drinkuth; Central Florida Chapter – James Evans; Greater Daytona Beach - Kathy Davis; Gainesville Chapter – Marion Debusk; Greater Jacksonville Chapter - Russell Davis; Melbourne-Space Coast Chapter - Arlene Naulty; Miami-Dade Chapter - John Williams; Palm Beach Chapter - Brook Evans; Polk Chapter – Judy Black; Florida Statewide Chapter - Fran Cupeta; Sun Coast Chapter- Scott Wilson; Tallahassee Chapter – Doug Ingram; Tampa Chapter - Merry Schoch; Treasure Coast Chapter – Roberta Cook; Deaf /Blind Division - Joe Naulty; Florida Association of Guide Dog Users - Sherrill O’Brien

Dan Hicks for given the Leadership Award and Tom Ryan was given the Legacy Award

 We received $2505 in monies and pledges from chapters, divisions and individuals.

 Monday 5/27/18

Nominating committee Report

The following names were nominated by the committee:

1st Vice President:  Paul Martinez

Treasurer:  Merry Schoch

Board Member #1: Lauren Blum

Board Member #3: Rafael Fernandez

A motion was made by Kathy Davis to accept nomination committee’s report; second by Jorge Hernandez.  Approved and passed by all.


The following officers were elected at the 2018 State Convention:

1st Vice President:  Paul Martinez by acclamation

Treasurer:  Merry Schoch by acclamation

Board Member #1:  Lauren Blum by majority vote

Board Member #4: Rafael Fernandez by majority vote

Current Board members not up for election this year are:

President: Denise Valkema

2nd Vice President:  Miranda Kilby

Secretary:  Sylvia Young

Board Member #2: Jorge Hernandez

Board Member #3: Camille Tate

 Fundraising Chapter Winners:

Miami – 4th place – 153 tickets

Suncoast 3rd place – 172 tickets

Tampa 2nd place – sold 332 tickets

Statewide 1st place – sold 338 tickets


Two resolutions were presented and adopted.

  1. Subject: voting resolution

Resolution Regarding Accessible Electronic Ballot Delivery Systems

  1. Subject: 413 08 Resolution

Resolution regarding Enforcement of Florida Equal Access Law and Prosecution of Violators

See complete resolutions at bottom of report.

Convention adjourned at Monday, May 28, 2018 at 10:48 am.

Respectfully submitted by Sylvia Young, NFBF Secretary

  1. Subject: voting resolution

Resolution Regarding Accessible Electronic Ballot Delivery Systems

  WHEREAS, the right to independently cast a secret and anonymous ballot is a cornerstone of our democracy; and

 WHEREAS, the passage of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) has enabled blind voters and many others with disabilities to exercise their right to vote privately and independently at polling places by providing at least one (1) accessible voting machine in each polling place; and

 WHEREAS, any registered voter wishing to use a vote by mail ballot has the right to do so; and

  WHEREAS, according to the Department of State, Division of Elections, all Florida counties use a paper ballot for vote by mail, thus excluding individuals who are blind or otherwise print-disabled from independently casting a private, secret vote by mail ballot; and

  WHEREAS, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits a state government from excluding an individual with a disability from participation in or being denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity; and

 WHEREAS, twenty states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin) have implemented electronic ballot delivery systems that enable voters to access and mark their ballot and then email or print and mail the ballot to their local board of elections, demonstrating that these systems can be made secure; and

  WHEREAS, electronic ballot delivery systems can be made accessible to screen reading, magnification, and other software used by the blind and otherwise print disabled, making electronic ballot delivery systems accessible and, as such, compliant with the ADA:

  Now, therefore,

  BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Florida in Convention assembled this twenty-eighth day of May 2018, in the City of Tampa, Florida, that this organization strongly urge the Florida Department of State, Division of Elections to require that all Supervisors of Elections offices make online electronic ballot delivery systems available and accessible to voters with disabilities.

  1. Subject: 413 08 Resolution

Resolution regarding Enforcement of Florida Equal Access Law and Prosecution of Violators

 WHEREAS, Florida statute 413.08(2) provides that the blind and otherwise disabled individuals are entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges in all public accommodations and any other place the public is invited; and

  WHEREAS, Florida statute 413.08(3) allows disabled individuals the right to be accompanied by a service animal in all places the public is invited; and

 WHEREAS, Florida statute 413.08(4) provides criminal second-degree misdemeanor penalties for denying or interfering with the rights of a disabled individual; and

 WHEREAS, most law enforcement officers are unaware of these statutes and, even when made aware of them, refuse to file criminal complaints; and

 WHEREAS, State Attorneys across the state often fail to pursue prosecution of these cases when brought to them, thus abetting the discrimination while marginalizing the civil rights of a disabled individual:

 Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Florida in Convention assembled this twenty-eighth day of May 2018 in Tampa, Florida that this Organization and its special interest division, the Florida Association of Guide Dog Users, call upon all law enforcement agencies in the state to raise the awareness of these laws among its sworn officers and dispatchers; and

 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Organization call upon the offices of State Attorney throughout the state to prosecute these cases; and

 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Organization call upon the Florida Attorney General’s office to work collaboratively with us to raise awareness of these statutes.