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ABVI Names 2013 Milton J. Samuelson Award Nominee

Dec 7, 2012

ROCHESTER, NY – The Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI) has selected Joanna Richardson as its 2013 Milton J. Samuelson Career Achievement Award recipient. The announcement was made at the organization’s employee holiday event held at the Rochester Radisson Riverside Hotel on December 4, 2012.

As ABVI’s MIltion J. Samuelson Career Achievement Award recipient, Richardson will accompany ABVI President and CEO Gidget Hopf to the National Industries for the Blind (NIB) National Conference being held in 2013 in Washington, D.C., and is a nominee to receive the national award.

The Milton J. Samuelson Career Achievement Award is given to recognize people who are blind and who are employed in an NIB-associated agency in a position above direct labor, but below the top administrative level, as well as those who have utilized the training and experience gained to seek and achieve outside competitive employment. Only legally blind persons nominated by NIB-associated agencies are eligible for the award.

“No one is more deserving of the honor of being nominated that our own Joanna Richardson,” says Hopf.

Having just celebrated 25 years of employment with ABVI, Hopf says Richardson began working in the manufacturing division “determined to master any task.”

“In true fashion, Joanna cemented her place in ABVI history as the first person who was completely blind to use the guillotine machine to cut self-stick note pads,” says Hopf.

Richardson, seeking to broaden her knowledge, reduced her manufacturing hours in 2003 to spend non-work hours with ABVI’s adaptive technology team to learn basic computer skills with JAWS technology coupled with an electronic Braille display. She then took part in customer service training through ABVI’s Career and Training Department.

Richardson transitioned from manufacturing to ABVI’s contact center. In the new division, she provided customer service as an information specialist for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Lead Information Center.

“In 2010, ABVI’s business with the EPA exploded, creating a very busy time for the team handling those calls. Joanna responded to this challenge by applying for and becoming a shift supervisor on the contract,” says Hopf. “She quickly learned that going from peer to supervisor was a whole new experience.”

Undaunted, Hopf says Richardson sought out guidance to learn and develop her supervisory skills.

“She has been an integral part of ABVI’s positive 10-year reputation with the EPA,” says Hopf.

Outside of the office, Richardson is also a contributor. She is one of 12 children of a pastor and, according to Hopf, is “very family oriented.”

“She’s raised her children and grandchildren to work hard and always continue learning and growing,” says Hopf. “This includes the foster children that she has shown great dedication to over the years.”

Richardson is also an advocate for people who are blind in the community. She led a two-year appeal to the New York State Racing and Wagering Board to allow computerized bingo cards to play an audio signal when a player wins. The legislation was passed in 2009.

“Joanna is truly an asset to ABVI, her family and her community,” says Hopf.

Photo caption: ABVI President and CEO Gidget Hopf, left, congratulates Joanna Richardson on her selection as ABVI's 2013 Milton J. Samuelson Career Achievement Award recipient.

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