Written By: Brenda Diggs

Headshot photo of Brenda Diggs smilingOctober is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).  This is a special time of year for IFB Solutions.   It is a time when we can educate our country about including people with disabilities in the workplace. As the new Chairperson of the IFB Solutions Board of Directors, I hope I inspire you to help make a difference.


Where It Began

I am a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and actively involved in the local community. During my professional career, I was a senior vice president of Wachovia Bank and served as manager of Sales Performance Services supporting the retail financial services group. Although I am officially retired, I sometimes provide consulting in the areas of leadership and board development, operational and financial management. I have always had a passion for service and helping others.

I am also involved in my church as well as other civic and community activities. It has been a pleasure to support IFB Solutions throughout the years.  I am proud of the impact IFB has across the communities in North Carolina and beyond. I am equally pleased and proud to be the new Chair of the IFB Solutions Board of Directors.

Inspired By IFB Solutions

I learned about IFB Solutions when I served on the board of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. The Trust approved a grant for Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind, now known as IFB Solutions. It was the practice of the Trust to do an onsite visit of some of the organizations receiving grants. The visit to Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind, now IFB Solutions, gave me a much deeper appreciation and respect for people with visual disabilities.  I was amazed by the abilities of people who are blind or visually impaired. While I knew of the organization, what I learned during that visit was just how widespread the work done by the employees who were blind impacted the U.S.  I was not aware of the work that was being done to support the military.  All I could say was wow!

My husband, who is visually impaired due to Optic Neuropathy, first learned about low vision products by visiting IFB’s Community Low Vision Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.  His visit presented another opportunity to learn about the resources provided by IFB and the value that they bring to the blind/low vision community. The Center and IFB helped my husband continue to lead an independent life.

I am inspired by the commitment of IFB’s management team, Board of Directors, and the employees who contribute to the overall economy, employment base, and overall well-being of the Winston-Salem community.  It is also inspiring to see the commitment of employees who take pride in doing work that benefits others while enriching their lives.  Lastly, it is very inspiring to help people who sometimes feel that they may be overlooked simply because they have vision loss. I have witnessed the skill, talent, and ability of many employees at IFB Solutions, and they are amazing.

A Look into the Future

Headshot of Brenda Diggs smiling at cameraMy support for IFB has come full circle.

After having so many fulfilling and personal experiences with this incredible non-profit, I am now leading the Board of Directors.  Each member of the board believes in the work of this great organization and sees the value that it holds in this community.  Board members believe that the work of IFB Solutions is making an impact and changing the lives of people who in some instances would not have the opportunity to work, earn a decent salary and live an independent life due to so many workforce barriers.

For me, IFB Solutions is doing what I know is most important in my life, that is, to make a positive difference in the life of someone else. It is my pleasure to have the opportunity to continue to serve IFB Solutions with a dedicated board, great management team, and staff who are all committed to doing just that. Some of my plans for this position are to make sure the employees get to know the board. I would like to stay connected and engaged. I will continue to advocate my passion and love for the mission of IFB Solutions.

Here are a few key takeaways when considering workplace inclusion and people with disabilities:


-According to the Society for Human Resource Management, prior to COVID-19, the unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities was double that of their peers, and more than *1 million U.S. workers with disabilities have lost their jobs since the pandemic began.

-Given the number of jobs available in the country right now, it is a prime opportunity to bring about the awareness of this very talented, committed, and productive segment of our society.

-For 1/3 of our workforce, IFB Solutions is their first job. Misconceptions of people who are blind cause barriers to employment. It’s our mission to change that.

-Inclusion is operating in a way that allows people of diverse backgrounds, skills, and yes, disabilities to use their skills in a manner that leverages fair, healthy, and high-performing organizations, or communities.  It enables individuals and groups to feel safe, respected, engaged, motivated and valued for who they are and for their contributions toward an organization, community, and society.