IFB Solutions Announces Dan Kelly as Incoming President and CEO

IFB Solutions Announcing Incoming President and CEO Dan Kelly

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Laura Burrows, Two B Public Relations
laura@twobpr.com, 336-575-6757

IFB SOLUTIONS ANNOUNCES NEW CEO

Dan Kelly will be leading the nonprofit in 2023

WINSTON-SALEM, NC (Sept. 14, 2022) – IFB Solutions, the country’s largest employer of people who are blind or visually impaired, has named Dan Kelly as its next president and CEO. Kelly will begin leading the Winston-Salem-based nonprofit organization in January 2023, following the year-end retirement of current CEO David Horton.

Kelly, who has been blind since childhood, currently serves as IFB’s executive vice president of strategy and programs. He will be the organization’s first CEO who is blind. Prior to joining IFB in 2007, Kelly worked for National Industries for the Blind in Alexandria, Virginia. A competitive swimmer from age 12, he won 17 medals as a member of the U.S. Paralympic Swim Team and has completed a marathon, triathlons, long-distance open water swims and a 100-mile tandem cycling challenge.

“IFB Solutions is recognized across the country for its work creating jobs and building independence for people who are blind or visually impaired,” said Kelly. “It’s an incredible honor to serve as its next CEO and to continue the legacy of excellence established by David Horton, who I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside for 15 years as a mentor, friend and colleague.”

Bob Newell, IFB board member and chair of the search committee, added: “On behalf of the search committee, we are delighted to announce Dan as president and CEO starting in 2023. Throughout his career, Dan has demonstrated an unwavering dedication to creating opportunities for people who are blind to pursue their careers of choice. He is an exceptional professional and an inspiring individual.”

Kelly will succeed David Horton, who joined IFB in 2001 as the nonprofit’s controller and has served as its CEO since 2008. In September 2021, IFB Solutions announced Horton’s plans to retire at the end of 2022 and the formation of a search committee. IFB utilized the services of the search firm Buffkin/Baker who initiated a national search that generated more than 50 applications from a diverse group of candidates. The search committee interviewed six exceptional finalists who were national in scope and shared a clear passion for the mission of IFB Solutions.

“We are pleased that the top performing candidate in the selection process came from within the IFB organization,” said Brenda Diggs, IFB board chair and member of the search committee.

ABOUT IFB SOLUTIONS
IFB Solutions is a nonprofit corporation founded in 1936 as Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind, and it provides employment, training and services for people who are blind or visually impaired. As the largest employer of people who are blind in the United States, IFB operates manufacturing facilities in Winston-Salem, N.C., Asheville, N.C., and Little Rock, Ark., in addition to operating nearly 20 office supply stores across the country and producing mattresses. IFB produces eyewear under its Twenty200 brand at its Winston-Salem lab. IFB Solutions funds employee training and services as well as community programs through grants and private donations, making possible summer camps, afterschool programs and activities for children who are blind, and Community Low Vision services through its low-vision Centers across North Carolina and in Little Rock, Ark. ifbsolutions.org

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IFB Solutions Honors Local Employee of the Year, The Winston-Salem Foundation and Community Leaders

View a PDF version with photos here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Anastasia Powell
apowell@ifbsolutions.org, M 336-456-9824

IFB Solutions Honors Local Employee of the Year, The Winston-Salem Foundation and Community Leader Tom Serrin for Contributions to Non-Profit’s Success

Winston-Salem, NC (May 25, 2022)—IFB Solutions, the largest employer of people who are blind in the U.S., recently recognized its Employees of the Year, partners and volunteers who play a vital role in the nonprofit’s mission of employment, training and services. Several honorees were from the Winston-Salem area.

“During the past two years of operating during a global pandemic our employees, board members and community partners have gone to extraordinary lengths in helping us continue to live out our mission of providing employment, training and services for people who are blind,” said IFB Solutions CEO David Horton. “This year’s award ceremony was especially meaningful as an opportunity to recognize and thank them in person for all that they continue to do for our organization. I’m humbled and inspired by their unselfish service and commitment to IFB Solutions.”

Luis Quiles of Winston-Salem named overall IFB Solutions Employee of the Year. Luis, who was born with ocular histoplasmosis, began his career at the IFB operations in Puerto Rico. After several years, he decided to move to Winston-Salem for additional upward mobility opportunities. He currently works in the role of Lead Shipper for IFB’s optical department. Luis obtained a degree in Business Administration from DeVry College. He is a proficient Spanish/English translator, is active in the community and has many interests, including being a member of the IFB Solutions bowling team.

Melissa Tuttle named IFB Solutions Career Achiever of the Year. Growing up with low vision caused by nystagmus and cataracts, Melissa focused on her education and a future career. After graduating from Western Carolina University with a major in Computer Information Systems, she worked for several years before joining IFB Solutions in 2011. Today, Melissa is a member of IFB’s Supply Chain team and is known for her savvy computer skills and attention to detail.

Tom Serrin honored as IFB Solutions Commodore Funderburk Visionary Award recipient. This award is named for the late Commodore Funderburk who was blind, deaf and mute and worked for IFB for 40 years without missing a day. It recognizes the individual or group who has helped solidify a future for IFB Solutions and, more importantly, create opportunities for people who are blind. IFB’s mission is personal to Tom. He served in the U.S. Marines and has lived with a vision impairment since adulthood. He has been a member of IFB’s Board of Directors since 2015 and is passionate about sharing how philanthropic support to IFB directly impacts the lives of thousands of people who are blind or visually impaired. Tom is the inaugural chair of IFB’s Development and Awareness Committee working to raise additional dollars to expand funding for IFB’s community programs and low-vision services.

The Winston-Salem Foundation named IFB Solutions Partner of the Year. For more than a century, The Winston-Salem Foundation has partnered with individuals and organizations to improve the quality of life in Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, and beyond. Through generous funding from the Foundation, IFB has been able to expand its job training programs, purchase and implement new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software and expand its S.E.E. Program for school-age children.

ABOUT IFB SOLUTIONS®
IFB Solutions is a nonprofit corporation founded in 1936 as Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind, and it provides employment, training and services for people who are blind or visually impaired. As the largest employer of people who are blind in the United States, IFB has manufacturing operations in Winston-Salem, N.C., Asheville, N.C., and Little Rock, Ark., in addition to nearly 20 tactical gear and office supply Base Supply Center stores. Primary business activities include production of military tactical gear, prescription eyewear at the Twenty200 Optical Lab, products for home and business under the Pinnacle Mercantile Amazon storefront, and call center operations. IFB Solutions funds employee training and services as well as community programs through grants and private donations, making possible summer camps, afterschool programs and activities for children who are blind. The IFB Community Low Vision Centers in North Carolina and in Little Rock, Ark., are open to the public. ifbsolutions.org

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IFB SOLUTIONS ANNOUNCES MAJOR DONATION TO EXPAND ACCESS TO ITS COMMUNITY LOW VISION CENTER SERVICES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Anastasia Powell
apowell@ifbsolutions.org, M 336-456-9824

IFB SOLUTIONS ANNOUNCES MAJOR DONATION TO EXPAND ACCESS TO ITS COMMUNITY LOW VISION CENTER SERVICES

Donation will expand financial assistance program, enable more people to access services

WINSTON-SALEM, NC (April 27, 2021) – Nonprofit IFB Solutions, the largest employer of people who are blind in the U.S., is expanding its financial assistance program for the IFB Community Low Vision Center (CLVC) in Winston-Salem thanks to a significant private donation made possible by the friends and family of the late Ronnie Sherrill, former Chairman and CEO of Charlotte-based SteelFab. The new initiative focuses primarily on assisting adults who receive services through the CLVC including the purchase of easy-to-use technology and household devices from talking watches to magnifiers. The program complements IFB’s existing Focus on Literacy program which loans school-age children assistive technology free of charge for home use.

“Coming to the CLVC is a life-changing experience for many people and this donation ensures that everyone will have access to our extensive services regardless of their ability to pay,” said Shonn Redmond, IFB Low Vision Services & Technical Support Coordinator. Redmond is low vision and personally tests out every device before it’s added to the CLVC. “Our goal is to equip people with the technology and devices that allow them to maintain important and independent life activities from reading and paying bills to cooking and working on the computer.”

The facility, which is being renamed the Ronald G. Sherrill Community Low Vision Center, is located on the IFB Solutions campus off Silas Creek Parkway and is open to the public although appointments are encouraged. Redmond or another CLVC associate work with each person to understand their challenges and needs and identify the best tools. Members of the Sherrill family along with lifelong friends collaborated with IFB on the philanthropic effort to have a direct and immediate impact on people who are low vision.

“My father would have been very moved by the inspiring work happening at IFB Solutions each and every day,” said Glenn Sherrill who took over for his father as CEO of SteelFab. ““My Dad lost sight in his right eye when he was in his early 50s yet kept a very positive outlook – the same spirit that was exemplified here at IFB Solutions. Dad was very generous, and I know he would be pleased that his donation will benefit so many people in need of these type of services.”

Ed Rose, CEO of Shelco and one of Ronnie Sherrill’s closest friends, was instrumental in connecting the Sherrills to IFB. Several years ago, he, Ronnie and Ronnie’s brother Don Sherrill underwrote the cost of a van to transport children who participate in IFB’s S.E.E. program in Charlotte. Ronnie’s wife Paulette, who came to know of IFB’s work through her family and Rose, made the lead gift to the new financial assistance initiative.

“It’s a tremendous honor to join with Paulette and the entire Sherrill family in making this donation to the Community Low Vision Center. Together, we’re supporting a very worthwhile organization and at the same time honoring one of my very best friends in life. I want to thank IFB for doing what it does to help those in our community who are blind or low vision and I want to thank the Sherrill family for letting us honor Ronnie in this way.”

IFB also operates Community Low Vision Centers on its campuses in Asheville, North Carolina and Little Rock, Arkansas. To learn more about the Centers, visit www.communitylowvision.org.

ABOUT IFB SOLUTIONS
IFB Solutions is a nonprofit corporation founded in 1936 as Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind, and it provides employment, training and services for people who are blind or visually impaired. As the largest employer of people who are blind in the United States, IFB operates manufacturing facilities in Winston-Salem, N.C., Asheville, N.C., and Little Rock, Ark., in addition to operating nearly 20 office supply stores across the country and producing mattresses. IFB produces eyewear under its Twenty200 brand at its Winston-Salem lab. IFB Solutions funds employee training and services as well as community programs through grants and private donations, making possible summer camps, afterschool programs and activities for children who are blind, and Community Low Vision services through its low-vision Centers across North Carolina and in Little Rock, Ark. ifbsolutions.org

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Understanding Macular Degeneration

By Dr. Dexter Street, Low Vision Specialist

Dr. StreetFor 36 years I have practiced optometry with an emphasis on low vision. Most of my patients who I work with at IFB Solutions’ Community Low Vision Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, have macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is one of the leading causes of adult sight loss. In fact, more than 10 million Americans have AMD. Here is what you need to know about AMD that can help you or a loved one.

How does macular degeneration impact vision?
Macular degeneration may reduce a person’s ability to see detail, text, and faces. Vision may appear dimmed and include spots, distortion, blurriness, and waviness.

There are TWO types of AMD:
– Dry AMD is caused by compromised blood vessels beneath the macula. These blood vessels can no longer deliver the needed nutrients to the macula nor carry away the waste products.
– Wet AMD occurs when the macula suffers from the lack of nutrition. Therefore, it grows its own blood vessels. These vessels are weak causing them to leak and break very easily allowing blood and other fluids to leak into the macula.

Risk-Factors for developing AMD:
– Smoking or vaping (Current smokers are 2-3X more likely to develop AMD)
– Obesity (2X more likely to develop AMD)
– Age 55+
– Family history of AMD (2.5X higher risk)

Reducing your risk of developing AMD:
– Exercise and eat healthy: dark, leafy greens; fatty fish; avoid processed foods and artificial fats
– If you smoke or vape – stop!
– Get regular eye exams

Dr. Street performs an exam

On the bright side, for most people, having age-related macular degeneration does not mean they will experience complete sight loss. Medical interventions such as injections and AREDS 2 vitamins can help to slow the progression of the disease. It is vital for people to get their vision checked regularly and report any issues or changes to their optometrist.

If you have any questions or concerns about your vision, please visit communitylowvision.org to chat with one of our associates.

Losing My Sight, but Not My Vision.

By Diana-Marie Soto, 2021 IFB Solutions Employee of the Year.

Leer en español.

Only one year into my young life I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa and nystagmus. Finally, there was an explanation for my dancing eyes and an answer to why, no matter how much my mom moved me away from the TV, I always ended up in front of it again, blocking everyone’s view.  My family supported my adventures, but they worried about my vision and school. Not only did I have to deal with bullies, but I also had to focus on studies with no tools to help me see. I had to learn to be intuitive and to sharpen my reflexes.

Photo of Diana in office
Diana-Marie Soto

Thanks to God and my family, I graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a bachelor’s degree in Hispanic studies. I got married and had two children. I moved my family to Florida from Puerto Rico and lived with my stepmother and my dad until we found jobs. I learned English by immersing myself in the language and eventually got a job as a Spanish instructor. However, I wanted more!

After joining IFB Solutions, the country’s largest employer of people who are blind, I knew I had been blessed with an amazing opportunity for my career. I work in IFB’s manufacturing division creating products for the U.S. Armed Forces. I volunteer with children who are blind in IFB’s S.E.E. program and I’m a writer for IFB’s Insider newsletter. I am pleased to contribute positively to my work community.  I hope that my contribution will serve as a reference to continue planting new seeds in my professional life. Even though I have lost some of my sight, I will never lose my vision for a fulfilling future.

 

Perdiendo mi vista, pero no mi visión.

Diana-Marie Soto, Empleada del Año de IFB Solutions, 2021

Solo a un año de vida me diagnosticaron retinitis pigmentosa y nistagmus. Finalmente, hubo una explicación para mis ojos danzantes y una respuesta al por qué, sin importar cuánto me alejara mi mamá del televisor, siempre terminaba nuevamente frente a él, bloqueando la vista de todos. Mi familia apoyó mis aventuras, pero les preocupaba mi poca vista y la escuela. No solo tuve que lidiar con los niños problemáticos, sino que también tuve que concentrarme en estudiar sin herramientas que me facilitaran el aprendisaje. Tuve que aprender a ser intuitiva y a agudizar mis reflejos.

Photo of Diana in office
Diana-Marie Soto

Gracias a Dios y a mi familia me gradué de la Universidad de Puerto Rico con una licenciatura en estudios hispanicos. Me casé y tuve dos hijos. Luego me mudé con mi familia a Florida desde Puerto Rico y viví con mi madrastra y mi papá hasta que encontramos trabajo. Aprendí inglés sumergiéndome en el idioma y finalmente conseguí empleo como profesora de español. Sin embargo, ¡quería más!

Después de unirme a IFB Solutions, el mayor empleador de personas ciegas del país, supe que había sido bendecida con una fabulosa oportunidad para mi carrera. Trabajo en la división de fabricación de IFB manufacturando productos para las Fuerzas Armadas de EE. UU. Soy voluntaria con niños ciegos en el programa de IFB, S.E.E. y soy redactora del boletín informativo de la compañía, The Insiders. Me complace contribuir positivamente a mi comunidad laboral. Espero que mi aporte sirva de referencia para seguir sembrando nuevas semillas en mi vida profesional. Aunque he perdido parte de la vista, Nunca perderé mi visión por un futuro brillante.

In Honor of Military Appreciation Month, IFB Solutions Donates 500 Masks to Kernersville VA Clinic

Nonprofit is donating masks made by people who are blind to VA hospitals in each community where it has facilities

Contact
Nicole Ducouer, IFB Solutions Director of Corporate Communications
(304) 685-2393 | nducouer@ifbsolutions.org
Dropbox link for photos and b-roll here.

WINSTON-SALEM, NC (May 21, 2020) – Recognizing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on local VA medical providers, and in honor of Military Appreciation Month, nonprofit IFB Solutions, the largest employer of people who are blind in the U.S., donated 500 masks to the VA Clinic in Kernersville. The donation includes 100 N95 masks for the VA’s medical team and 400 cloth masks produced by IFB employees in the Winston-Salem facility for patients and clinic staff.

IFB Solutions is donating another 1,000 masks to VA facilities in Asheville, N.C. and Little Rock, Ark., where it also has manufacturing operations. The nonprofit recently ramped up mask production at its Winston-Salem facility having received its first order against a contract to produce cloth masks for the U.S. Air Force.

Scott Smith, an IFB Solutions employee and Navy veteran, went to the Kernersville VA Clinic for the mask donation.

“As a veteran, it’s especially meaningful to me to participate in today’s donation of masks to the Kernersville VA Clinic,” said Smith. “Our military manufacturing work at IFB Solutions creates hundreds of jobs for people like me who are blind or visually impaired. To be able to go beyond that work and donate to fellow veterans, and the medical teams serving them is a tremendous honor. I know I speak for all of my colleagues at IFB that we are proud to play a small part in protecting those workers on the new front lines of this pandemic. We hope that these masks provide a sense of security for veterans and their families as they continue to seek medical care during these uncertain times.”

The washable cloth masks that IFB is donating to the VA medical facilities also are available for sale to the public through IFB’s online retail outlet, bscsource.com. Each mask sold helps IFB achieve its mission of creating opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired in need of employment, training and services. The masks are sold in packs of 50 for $149.49 and shipping is free. Larger packs of 500 masks also are available.

“We very much appreciate this donation of masks from IFB Solutions and its team of employees,” said Les Eason, Chief, Voluntary Service for the Kernersville VA Clinic. “This support means a great deal to our medical team and those we serve as we all navigate these challenging times.”

Dropbox, courtesy of IFB Solutions, includes:
(Note: B-roll and still images show sewing of white masks available for sale to the public)
– B-roll of employees working on IFB mask production line
– Still photo of IFB plant manager Garry Russ wearing the white IFB mask
LINK: bit.ly/MasksIFB

About IFB Solutions (IFB)
IFB Solutions is a nonprofit corporation founded in 1936 that provides employment, training and services for people who are blind or visually impaired. As the largest employer of people who are blind in the United States, IFB operates manufacturing facilities in Winston-Salem, N.C., Asheville, N.C., and Little Rock, Ark., in addition to operating nearly 20 office supply stores across the country and producing mattresses. IFB produces eyewear under its Twenty200 brand at its Winston-Salem lab and operates a retail location in Winston-Salem. IFB Solutions funds employee training and services as well as community programs through grants and private donations, making possible summer camps, afterschool programs and activities for children who are blind, and Community Low Vision services through its low-vision Centers across North Carolina and in Little Rock, Ark. ifbsolutions.org

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