Alphapointe’s Cheryl Rayburn graduated from the Blind Leaders Development Program at the American Foundation for the Blind’s (AFB) special commencement ceremony held on Aug. 2, 2022.
Launched in 2020, the Blind Leaders Development Program was created by AFB to increase upward mobility and create meaningful leadership experiences for individuals who are blind or low vision, who are already employed and in the early stages of their careers.
While in the program, Rayburn and her fellow graduates received extensive training in leadership, networking, communication and other key skills for advancing in their careers and improving their effectiveness as they achieve higher levels of authority and influence. Other facets of the program included following the Leadership Challenge curriculum, attending a series of webinars and being paired with a successful blind or low vision mentor who provided honest advice and feedback about what it takes to succeed in the workforce. Rayburn was among 18 graduates of the Centennial Cohort, named as such in light of AFB celebrating 100 years advocating on behalf of those who are blind or have low vision throughout 2021.
Rayburn serves as the Manager of Donor Development and Community Relations at Alphapointe. After serving on the organization’s Board of Directors, she found her purpose by joining its work force. Rayburn has significantly helped increase volunteer participation as well as revenue from Alphapointe fundraising events. She previously held positions as the organization’s Low Vision Clinic Manager and as Intake Coordinator.
Rayburn was 16 years old when she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa. She finished high school, graduated from Missouri State University and began a career in the mortgage industry. After 10 years, she stopped working because of her vision loss. She eventually participated in Alphapointe’s Comprehensive Rehabilitation program before embarking on her career with the organization. She is a recipient of the National Industries for the Blind’s Milton J. Samuelson Career Achievement Award and currently serves as a NIB Public Policy Advocate.
“These 18 professionals, including Cheryl, have honed their knowledge and skills to take on greater authority and responsibility in their professional fields,” said Neva Fairchild, who oversees the program. “Due to their intensive learning and practice, as well as the work of their mentors, for whom we are all grateful, Cheryl and her fellow graduates now have the imperative to create and sustain a more inclusive workforce.”
Since its inception in 2020, the program has seen a steady rise in applicants. The recently-launched third cohort is the largest class to date. For more information, visit AFB.org/BlindLeaders.