A composite of the LightHouse and Holman Prize logos

Meet the Distinguished 2022 Holman Prize Jurors

A few weeks ago, we introduced you to the 10 2022 Holman Prize for Blind Ambition finalists. Three from this ambitious group of blind people who want to challenge misconceptions about what it means to be blind will be selected as winners of the sixth annual Holman Prize for Blind Ambition.

But who chooses the three winners? More than 50 judges, all who are blind or have low vision, have brought their skills, knowledge and experience to choosing finalists. Each year a panel of esteemed blindness leaders from around the world come together for discussion and debate to select the winners.

This year’s 10 Holman Prize judges are no exception. Learn more about them below.

The 2022 Holman Prize Committee

George Abbott –  United States

George Abbott

George Abbott is the President and CEO of Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc., headquartered in Seattle, Washington. He earned a Bachelor’s in Finance and an Master’s in Blind Adult Rehabilitation from Northern Illinois University. He grew up in the Chicago area. Prior to his current position, he worked in a variety of management positions at the American Foundation for the Blind and Hadley Center. He started his career teaching Access Technology at the Idaho Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the Hines Veterans Affairs Central Blind Rehabilitation Center.

Emma Bennison – Australia

Emma Bennison

Recently, Emma completed five years as CEO of Blind Citizens Australia, revitalizing the national blindness consumer representative organization. Currently, Emma consults for Government agencies and not-for-profit organizations as well as chairing several boards, whilst seeking her next CEO role. Emma Bennison has over 20 years’ experience as a CEO and non-Executive Director. Passionate about finding innovative solutions to challenging problems, Emma creates collegial organizational cultures that attract great people, achieve great results and nurture tomorrow’s leaders.

Also, a professional musician, Emma’s 2015 album, “Fine Line”, is available online. Her greatest joy though, is hanging out with her husband and teenagers.

Oksana Chuchunkova – Russia

Oksana Chuchunkova

Oksana Chuchunkova is an advocate for employment for people with disabilities, accessibility and blindness awareness. She has served as the head of the public relations department of the Business Center for Blind and Visually Impaired Persons and an Employment Program Coordinator at DPO Perspektiva in Moscow. She’s the Accessibility Expert at VTB Bank and together with a team, she helps to adapt online and offline banking services for visually impaired clients as well as for clients with different disabilities.

Dr. M. Leona Godin – United States

Leona Godin

Leona Godin is a writer, performer, educator, and the author of There Plant Eyes: A Personal and Cultural history of Blindness. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Playboy, O Magazine, Electric Literature, Catapult, and other print and online publications. Godin holds a PhD in English, and besides her many years teaching literature and  humanities courses at NYU, she has lectured on art, accessibility, technology, and disability at institutions and universities around the country. Her online magazine exploring the arts and sciences of smell and taste, Aromatica Poetica, publishes writing and art from around the world.

Sarah Harris – United States

Sarah Harris, Director of Programs at Resources for Independence Central Valley, enjoys making good stuff happen. She oversees Advocacy, Assistive Technology, Youth Services, and Community Education. She serves on local and state committees advising and advocating for voting rights, transportation, services for the blind, and more. She currently serves as the First Vice-President for the California Council of the Blind (CCB). Most recently, Sarah coordinated CCB’s 2021 and 2022 Virtual Conventions. In her spare time, she enjoys a good cup of coffee, an endurance adventure with the Project Athena Foundation, a good laugh, and spending time with Honey, her perfect Chihuahua-Pitbull. 

Angie Matney – United States

Angie Matney

Angie Matney is counsel in the Entertainment and Media Industry Group at Reed Smith LLP. As a Certified Information Privacy Professional/United States (CIPP/US), Angie helps companies protect their digital assets by providing counsel in the areas of information privacy, data security, and digital accessibility. She supports clients in a wide range of industries including health care, pharmaceuticals, entertainment and media, consumer packaged goods, retail, real estate, hospitality, travel, and financial services. Prior to law school, Angie taught undergraduate mathematics and statistics courses. She also worked as a disability rights advocate and as a rehabilitation counselor.

Karen Knight – Australia

Karen Knight

A proud Australian, Karen spent the first fifteen years of her career as a Psychologist specializing in youth suicide prevention and mental health promotion. She has a further 15 years of blindness service management experience and is currently General Manager of client Services at Vision Australia, the single National service provider organisation for blind people. It is her lived experience and many years involvement in the consumer movement of blind people in Australia that has shaped her views about best practice in blindness service delivery. Karen is passionate about blind and visually impaired people living their dreams without the shackles imposed by others. Being out there telling blind positive stories is one way to change attitudes.

Karen has two young adult children and is a keen ballroom and Latin-American dancer

Trisha Kulkarni – United States

Trisha recently graduated with her Bachelor’s in Computer Science from Stanford University. Her experiences serving as a teacher’s assistant in introductory programming courses, working at leading technology companies, and volunteering in the blindness space has fueled a strong passion for leveraging her skillsets for social impact. She is currently completing a software engineering internship at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to bring equitable educational experiences to minority populations, while also continuing her role as President of the National Association of Blind Students. Afterwards, she will be returning to the classroom to pursue graduate school.

Ronza Othman – United States

Ronza Othman

Ronza Othman is the Director of EEO Compliance at the US Department of Health and Human Services. Othman is an attorney who specializes in civil rights laws including the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the ADA Amendments Act, the Civil Rights Act, the Equal Pay Act, and other landmark civil rights legislation: federal employment law; countering violent extremism; immigration law; special education law; Mediation and Alternate Dispute Resolution.

Othman also serves as President of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, President of the National Association of Blind Lawyers, and President of the National Association of Blind Government Employees. 

Dr. Hoby Wedler – United States

Hoby Wedler

Wedler earned his PhD in Organic Chemistry from UC Davis. He is a scientist, entrepreneur and a sensory expert. In 2011, Wedler founded a non-profit organization to lead annual chemistry camps for blind students throughout North America. He’s the founder of Tasting In The Dark,(read more link)  which provides blindfolded experiences that allow guests to explore the world through non-visual senses.

 

Wedler was named a Champion of Change by President Barack Obama for enhancing employment and education opportunities for people with disabilities. He is dedicated to impacting everyone he works with by unlocking doors, overcoming challenges, increasing awareness, and expanding their horizons.

Thank you to each and every one of these incredible people for their input, passion and wisdom. Stay tuned to find out which of the 10 2022 Holman Prize finalists will carry out their Holman Prize Ambition in the coming year.

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