Alphapointe, one of the nation’s largest providers of rehabilitation services and employment for people who are blind, announced the establishment of its New York Advisory Committee.
The new committee includes Laura Allen (Senior Accessibility Program Manager at Google), Mark Farrell (Media Personality & Motivational Speaker), Jef Gross (Manager of Committee Development at the Queens Chamber of Commerce) and David Paterson (Former Governor of New York).
The goal of the new committee is to pursue new and creative strategies to enhance and support the opportunities for people with vision loss in a host of areas, including employment and rehabilitation services for people of all ages.
“The unemployment rate for people with vision loss is more than 70 percent and more than 90 million Americans are at risk for serious vision loss, which is why the establishment of this new committee is so critical,” said Alphapointe President and CEO Reinhard Mabry. “We are thrilled to bring together such a talented group of individuals. Our aim is to develop innovative concepts to help empower people with vision impairment so that they can lead independent and successful lives.”
Alphapointe employs more than 200 people at its 138,000 square foot complex in Richmond Hill, N.Y., more than half of whom are blind or visually impaired. The organization manufactures tens of millions of products annually, including facemasks for the military, pilot-relief bags for members of the military and office supplies for government agencies across the country. Additionally, Alphapointe provides career employment and placement services for people with vision loss throughout the New York metro area.
Alphapointe New York Advisory Committee Members
Senior Accessibility Program Manager, Google
Media Personality & Motivational Speaker
Manager of Committee Development, Queens Chamber of Commerce
Former Governor, New York
Alphapointe New York Advisory Committee Member Bios
Laura Allen is the Senior Accessibility Program Manager for the Chrome and Chrome OS teams at Google. She collaborates with the engineers, designers, and product managers to make the Chrome family of products accessible and usable across platforms, for people of all abilities. She also leads various accessibility workshops and trainings around the United States for teachers of the visually impaired, advocacy organizations, and special education classrooms. In addition, Allen helps to manage Google’s presence at major accessibility conferences, as she believes that connecting with the community and gathering hands-on feedback is critical. Allen also represents Google in the Teach Access organization, where various technology companies and higher education institutions come together to drive the inclusion of accessibility in core computer science, design, and human centered interaction programs. As of 2020, she serves as the Chair of the Teach Access Executive Committee. Due to her personal experience with low vision, she believes that technology has more power now than ever to transform lives and progressing accessibility has become her true passion. Since 2017, Allen has also served on the board of directors for the San Francisco Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Prior to her role in accessibility, Laura worked as an Account Manager in Google’s Large Customer Sales division where she advised business-to-business technology companies on their advertising and marketing strategies. For her undergraduate education, Allen studied International Business, Marketing, and Music at Georgetown University. She is also undergoing a graduate program at Stanford University through spring 2021.
Mark Farrell is a passionate motivational speaker at Mark Farrell Motivation (school, college, camp, corporate), disability and mental health advocate, award winning NYC Radio Host, New Jersey Radio Personality and on-camera personality, whose unique life experiences stemming from his visual disability have driven him to address audiences nationwide on critical issues which have personally impacted his life. These issues include overcoming adversity, anti-bullying/anti-teasing, mental health, drugs/alcohol, celebrating differences, self-entitlement and more. Farrell connects with audiences through his compelling storytelling and engaging style by sharing intimate details of his vast personal experiences. Throughout all of Farrell’s experiences, he continually pushed himself forward in life and developed a “get up and go” attitude, fighting against the odds and achieving many rewarding milestones both personally and professionally. Some of Farrell’s passions include cycling, triathlons, carpentry, Spin Instructor, yoga, music and being a father.
Jef Gross is the Manager of Committee Development for Queens Chamber of Commerce. In this role he manages its 12-volunteer industry related committees, including Not-for-Profit. His responsibilities include providing direction, logistics assistance and guidance as the volunteers create content around relevant industry topics. In addition, Jef is responsible for oversight of the Chamber’s monthly magazine This is Queensborough, produces their weekly Facebook LIVE broadcast and manages the monthly New Member Orientation session. Jef has more than 20 years of experience in successfully developing relationships, both professionally and personally. In addition to his professional work, Jef has spent a great deal of time volunteering over the years, including 20-plus years with his little brother, who was matched with through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City. Jef is actively involved in ministry at his church where he serves in a leadership role. Other professional work includes United Way of Greater Kansas City, United Way Worldwide, Georgetown University and DC Chamber of Commerce. Born and raised in Missouri, Jef spent 14 years in the Kansas City area before relocating east. Jef received his BA in Entrepreneurship from Strayer University. He currently resides in Brooklyn, N.Y. He’s passionate about spending time with family and friends as well as building lifelong relationships within his community
David Paterson was the first African American and legally blind governor in New York as well as the first the first non-white Secretary of State in New York and the first African American Vice-Chair of the National Democratic Party. Paterson’s career in public office began in 1985 when he was elected to represent Harlem in the New York State Senate. In 2002, he became the minority leader of the New York State Senate, the first non-white legislative leader in New York’s history. He made history again in 2004 when he became the first visually impaired person to address the Democratic National Convention, held in Boston, Massachusetts. Paterson was elected New York’s first African American Lieutenant Governor on November 7, 2006. On March 17, 2008, he became governor and served in that capacity through Dec. 31, 2010. After leaving office, Paterson hosted a radio show for New York station WOR from 2011 to 2012. He also taught government as an adjunct professor at New York University. In 2016, Paterson joined Stifel, Nichoulas & Company as a director of investment. Paterson is nationally recognized as a leading active advocate for the visually and physically impaired. Paterson earned his bachelor’s degree in History from Columbia University in 1977 and completed his J.D. at Hofstra Law School in 1982.