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Board of Directors

Carl Jacobsen's picture

Carl Jacobsen, President

Carl Jacobsen is a native New Yorker. A product of the New York City school system, he has a B.A. from Hunter College with majors in History, Political Science, and Comparative Religion. His graduate work was done at Union Theological Seminary.

Carl and his late wife Sally raised three children in Brooklyn, who have since given him three grandchildren. Carl currently resides in Brooklyn with his current wife, the former Cantor Dr. Mindy Fliegelman, whom he married on May 20, 2006.

At present, Carl is the President of the National Federation of the Blind of New York State and a former member of the National Board of Directors.

Carl became blind at age 15 from a hereditary nerve disorder, which caused his optic nerves to atrophy. It was at that time, the middle of his high-school years, that he met two no nonsense teachers who convinced him that Braille and the use of the long white cane were critical for his future. Although as a teenager, he resisted their teachings, he learned the skills and attributes his independence to these gentlemen.

His experience with the Federation goes back to the late ‘60’s when he worked with some of the earliest members and leaders of the NFB of New York. One of his more poignant memories is of an attempted housing discrimination case, which directly affected him and his wife. It was at that time that he became aware of the power of collective action by the blind.

The effects of the writings and examples of Drs. tenBroek, Jernigan and Maurer cannot be overstated. “They have put into words what I felt for most of my life.” In addition, the example of thousands of fellow Federationists has strengthened his belief in his people. “If I can only pass on a fraction of what others have done for me, I will be giving an immeasurable gift to the next generation of blind people.”

Carl adds, “The passage of legislation guaranteeing instruction in Braille to all blind children in our New York State schools will help to give the next generation the tools, which they need to succeed. However, we still have far to go. In this new century, we need to empower blind people and their families to gain control over their own lives and destinies.”

In 2005, Carl retired from a long career in the Randolph/Sheppard program and the publishing industry. Since that time he has dedicated his time to advancing the cause of the Federation in New York State and the nation. “Of all the work I have done over many years, my work with the Federation is by far the most rewarding.”

It is his goal, through his work in the Federation, to change what it means to be blind. “We can accomplish this as we reduce the influence of the too few who have had control over the too many for too long.”

Mindy Jacobsen's picture

Mindy Jacobsen, 1st Vice President

Cantor Dr. Mindy Jacobsen’s involvement with the National Federation of the Blind dates back to her college days, when she was Secretary of the newly formed Tallahassee, Florida Chapter. Today she serves with pride and humility as First Vice President of the New York State affiliate and President of the New York City Chapter.

At 21, she moved to New York City where she received her Music Education degree and ordination as the first blind woman cantor in Judaism's long history. In 2004, she accepted an honorary Doctorate of Music from her alma mater, The Hebrew Union College, Institute Of Religion, School Of Sacred Music.

Cantor Jacobsen officiated and sang in concert throughout the country, hoping to educate the public about the capabilities of women cantors. As a congregational cantor she taught in the religious schools, trained the children in preparation for their bar and bat mitzvahs, and, of course, officiated at all services and celebrations.

She served, for thirteen years, in the senior administration of JBI International, during which time she directed the library and then the recording studio where Talking Books were recorded.

Ms. Jacobsen was one of the first technology specialists with the New York State Commission for the Blind, where she recommended the equipment that would help to open up new positions for blind and visually impaired workers and make it possible for blind employees to do their jobs more effectively.

She assists seniors experiencing vision loss by facilitating support groups and teaching them to use computers adapted especially for blind and/or visually impaired individuals. Dr. Jacobsen asserts that, "With proper training and the right attitudes about ourselves, we CAN live the lives we want."

Chancey Fleet, 2nd Vice President

Cayte Mendez's picture

Cayte Mendez, Secretary

Cayte Mendez teaches a class of twenty-four first-grade students at a public school in the Bronx. In addition to her position on the NFB of NY Board, she currently serves as both the President of the National Organization of Blind Educators and Chairperson of the Scholarship Committee of the NFB of NY. She received her Bachelor's degree in Linguistics and Asian Studies from Cornell and her Master's degree in Education from Pace University. At the 2012 NFB Convention she was honored with the Distinguished Blind Educator of the Year Award.

Ray Wayne's picture

Ray Wayne, Treasurer

Ray Wayne has served as Treasurer of the NFB of NY since 1986. He also serves as Secretary to the NFB New York City Chapter, and as Secretary to the National Association of Blind Lawyers, a division of NFB.

Ray graduated from Harvard Law School in 1985, and is now an attorney with the New York City Commission on Human Rights, which works to eradicate discrimination in New York City. Ray says that his experiences of discrimination as a blind person have helped him understand the challenges that other minority groups face.

Edwin White, Board Member

Heather Bird, Board Member

I am a complex person: a wife, a mother, a daughter, a social work student, an attachment parent, guide dog handler, advocate, an avid reader, singer, foodie... Blindness is just one facet of who I am. In the setting of precious stones that is my life, blindness is one single side of one little supporting gem, although society tries to paint it as the largest and most flawed center of my ring. As a child blindness was to me as my hair color or my shoe size. However, society has insisted on making it an issue as important as race, religion, or sexual orientation. I am the child of a blind parent, the parent of blind children, and the wife of a veteran. Everyone from every walk of life has challenges that can be dealt with in a myriad of ways. It is only when our society latches on to one of these challenges or differences and stigmatizes it, that the real struggle begins in earnest. I will live the life I want in spite of this interfearance and relish every day. I am the president of the Rochester chapter of NFB. If you live in the Rochester area please come and join us at a meeting or a social event.

Katy Carroll, Board Member

Lucy Marr, Board Member

I serve as the President of the NFB of Syracuse and we would love to have you join us for our chapter meetings. Please contact me if you have questions. Join us in making a difference for the blind of Syracuse!

Maria Garcia's picture

Maria Garcia, Board Member

Mike Robinson's picture

Mike Robinson, Board Member

Nihal Erkan, Board Member

Romeo Edmead, Board Member