Amber Bobnar lives with her husband and 10-year-old son, Ivan, in Watertown, MA, where Ivan, who is diagnosed with Leber congenital amaurosis and Joubert Syndrome (due to mutations in the CEP290 gene), attends the Lower School at Perkins School for the Blind. Amber is founder and website administrator of WonderBaby.org, a website dedicated to supporting parents and caregivers of children who are blind or visually impaired, with or without additional disabilities.
Dana is a recently retired adult and reference librarian with the New York Public Library. She lives in New York City with her husband, Steve. Dana has hearing loss and is legally blind from a progressive condition called Usher Syndrome. As a librarian, she organized several Low Vision Technology Fairs and a series of programs bringing art and museums to people with low vision. Dana writes about museum tours and programs for people with vision loss, and her journey as a visually challenged artist, on her website www.artandlowvision.com.
Jack McCormick is a business student at Canada’s Wilfrid Laurier University who lives with Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA due to mutations in the RPE65 gene). He is an active accessibility advocate who dreams of a future where society no longer defines people by single characteristics. Upon graduation, Jack hopes to start work in the field of Human Resources and continue to volunteer as an accessibility advocate.
Stephanie Vetere Sims, M.D.
Stephanie is a wife, mother, psychiatrist, and IRONMAN triathlete living in Jacksonville, Florida. She is a carrier of the CHM gene, and a fundraiser and advocate for Team CHM and the Choroideremia Research Foundation. To learn more about the CRF, visit www.curechm.org
Becky Andrews, LCMHC, is the Clinical Director of Resilient Solutions and author of “Look Up, move forward: My journey of losing vision and finding resilience.” In her spare time, she enjoys running, tandem biking, traveling, and time with her family, friends and guide dog, Georgie. She was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa when she was 18 years old.
Janet LaBreck, diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at 10, spent 20 years as an advocate for the blind before becoming the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind. In 2013, President Obama nominated LaBreck Commissioner of Rehabilitation Services Administration within the U.S. Department of Education, a role she held until President Obama left office in 2017. Photo courtesy of Perkins School for the Blind.
Janet LaBreck is serving as a paid consultant to Spark Therapeutics, lending her personal and policy expertise to help inform our efforts on behalf of the IRD community.
Jennifer Schwab, M.S., C.G.C.
Jennifer Schwab, MS, CGC, a board-certified genetic counselor, received a B.S. in Biology from Northeastern University in 2010 and an M.S. in Genetic Counseling from the Boston University School of Medicine in 2012. She is a Clinical Genetic Counselor at Rhode Island Hospital and a Teaching Associate at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Jennifer serves as a member of the New England Region Genetics Group Board of Directors, and active in the National Society of Genetic Counselors.
Theresa Taylor is an advocate in the IRD community, runs a successful business, and is raising two young children in the heartland of the country. When she isn’t busy running the family business, in Union, Wisconsin, you will find Theresa on the baseball, football, or soccer field cheering on her kids.
Josh Bennett is a marketer, designer, and writer who spends his spare time as a time trial cyclist and studying the ancient form of Muay Thai boxing. He was diagnosed with Stargardt disease as a teenager.
Victoria Romano, M.Ed.
Victoria Romano is the Elementary Program Coordinator at Overbrook School for the Blind. After teaching for 7 years, Victoria is now adapting to the professional life of an administrator at Overbrook—and loving it! When Victoria is not at work, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, exercising, and exploring the city of Philadelphia, right in Overbrook's backyard.
Jacque Duncan, M.D.
Dr. Jacque Duncan earned a medical degree at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where she also completed internship and ophthalmology residency. She completed a medical retina fellowship at the Scheie Eye Institute at the University of Pennsylvania and then returned to San Francisco to join the faculty at UCSF as a professor of clinical ophthalmology. Since joining UCSF, she combines care of patients with inherited retinal degenerations with research to develop new ways to monitor and diagnose retinal problems.
April Lufriu is a model, actress, business owner, wife, and mother. She leverages her experience as the former Mrs. Florida, Mrs. America, and Mrs. World to raise awareness about retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited retinal disease (IRD) affecting Lufriu’s children, sister, and April herself.
Author Dominic Calabrese is an award-winning communications professional and the senior vice president of public relations at The Chicago Lighthouse. He is also an adjunct professor at Columbia College Chicago and the current president of the Publicity Club of Chicago, the nation’s largest independent public relations organization.
Dr. Bill Takeshita
Dr. Bill Takeshita is an optometrist specializing in low vision. He is a consultant for the Braille Institute of America and serves as faculty at the MB Ketchum University College of Optometry. His podcast, “Low Vision Technology,” is available on iTunes.
Bradford and Bryan Manning
Charlottesville, Virginia natives, University of Virginia graduates, and former financial sector analysts, Bryan (left) and Bradford (right) are the founders of Two Blind Brothers, a clothing line designed for softness and to fund research into a cure for inherited retinal disease.
Brian Mansfield, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President, Research, Foundation Fighting Blindness
Prior to joining the Foundation Fighting Blindness in 2011, Dr. Mansfield was the chief scientist and vice president for research and development for Correlogic Systems, Inc. and a senior scientist in protein development at Human Genome Sciences, Inc. He has also served as professor of Eukaryotic Genetics at Massey University, New Zealand, visiting professor at Georgetown University, Washington D.C., and adjunct scientist with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Mansfield received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Otago, New Zealand and completed his post-doctoral training in molecular genetics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.