NFB of Utah Affiliate Board Members Bio
President: Everette Bacon
Supervisor, Technology and Employment Services
Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Utah State Office of Rehabilitation
A graduate from Dallas Baptist University with a Bachelor’s in Music Education, A Masters Degree from Western Michigan University in Rehabilitation Teaching. I have a long history of blindness in my family that dates back some 17 generations. I came to Utah because my , Dr. Angela Peters, wife is a resident Neurologist at the University of Utah. Angela and I met in college and have been happily married for 17 years now. I started in the field of rehabilitation as a client many years ago. Rehabilitation helped me obtain my degree, helped me find gainful employment as an Admissions Director for Dallas Baptist University . I also became a District Trainer for Blockbuster Inc. and am now in the field of evaluating and training people with assistive technology. It is a fun field that I enjoy and am glad to give back to a field like rehabilitation, which has helped me in so many different ways in my life. As President of the National Federation of the Blind of Utah, my hope and goal is to continue our mission of changing what it means to be blind. The NFB has made such a positive difference in my life and I want to share this same message with as many blind individuals, Teachers of the Blind, and family members that I possibly can! The NFB of Utah strives to help blind individuals gain opportunity and independence. We must understand that changing what it means to be blind is a collaborative effort. Opportunity and independence will not happen by the works of the few. It can only be accomplished by the voices of many. Remember, they will not force us, they will stop degrading us, they will not control us, we will be victorious! The NFB of Utah is proud to say “We are changing what it means to be blind!”
First Vice President: Cheralyn Creer
Cheralyn was born with Cone Dystrophy. She had a typical upbringing and was held to the same expectations as her peers and nine siblings. She progressed through the Utah public school system receiving family and special education support. However, she found herself lacking the confidence necessary to achieve her dream of becoming a teacher. In college she became acquainted with the National Federation of the Blind. Surrounding herself with successful blind adults changed her life dramatically. Shortly thereafter, she accepted a position in Davis School District teaching Special Education. She taught and consulted for five years. After marrying her best friend, Nate Creer, she moved on to employment with the Utah State Office of Education. Among her many responsibilities, she served as the Vision Impairment Specialist for over 3 years. Because of the impact the NFB had on her own life, she is committed to helping others to recognize and achieve their own potential. One important way she does this is coordinating the Utah network for Mentoring Excellence (U’nME). This program brings successful blind mentors together with blind youth. In conjunction with Project STRIVE, she hopes that today’s youth will have the skills and confidence she lacked at their age. Cheralyn is the proud mother of Chase and Amelia Creer. Chase and Amelia inherited their mother’s eyes so she is even more determined to improve the quality of education and opportunities for blind and visually impaired children in the state of Utah.
Second Vice President: Karl Smith
Karl joined the NFB in 1978 and has held a number of leadership positions since including: local chapter president, secretary, and state president from 1981 to 1996. He currently serves as 2nd vice president of the state affiliate and treasurer of the Salt Lake chapter.
Karl is Vice President of the Louisiana Center for the Blind board of directors, a member of Toastmasters and is also active in his church. Other interests include singing, playing the guitar and traveling.
Karl and his wife Sharon have five children including two from Viet Nam and one from Guatemala.
Secretary: Barbie Elliott
Barbie is a Utah native, born completely blind with optic nerve hypoplasia. Her family has no history of blindness. In the 1930s and 40s, long before Barbie’s parents were even born her grand parents had positive experiences working with blind professionals. Her maternal grandmother worked for a blind journalist /teacher and her paternal grandfather worked with an attorney. Both of these men passed away long before Barbie was born, but these experiences helped her grand parents influence Barbie and her parents to believe that blindness was an obstacle rather than a barrier in developing and achieving dreams. Barbie’s family taught her not only to follow those dreams but to take responsibility for her life. She was expected to do the same household jobs as her sighted siblings and do them well. Her family worked hard to give her opportunities to participate in the same kinds of extracurricular activities such as girl scouts, piano lessons, bike riding and school clubs as other children her age. She learned that hard work and high expectations has more to do with success in life than having sight does. Barbie is the second completely blind person in the state of Utah to graduate from public schools having been mainstreamed in Kinder Garten. She graduated with a bachelor of arts in music from Brigham Young University, married her college sweetheart Walt, and together they have 4 children. Barbie is a semiprofessional musician performing and recording original and popular music whenever she can. Barbie is currently working full-time as a home management instructor at the Utah Division and services for the blind and visually impaired. Because of the positive influence of blind professionals in her grand parents’ lives, and the lack of them in her own life, she believes that blind children and their families need positive successful blind roll models and loves working with the teens and young adults in Project Strive. In her spare time (which is rare with a house-full of kids, a full-time job, and a husband to manage), she loves hiking, repelling, water skiing, ice and roller skating, reading, crocheting, and surfing the web to obtain knowledge and participating on social media
Treasurer: Mark Turley
This is a brief account of my professional, educational, and volunteer recent history. I worked for the US Navy for 20 years, retiring in 2005 after my vision became bad enough that I could no longer efficiently do my job. Unfortunately, I was not involved in any advocacy groups that could help in learning about accessibility and ADA accommodations. In 2007 I became involved with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and their philosophy has helped me immensely. I then served as the secretary for the Salt Lake Chapter and am now the President of the Salt Lake Chapter of the NFB of Utah and also serve on the state board of directors. I also went through training at DSBVI in 2009-10 which taught me invaluable non-visual skills to live a full, successful life. I am much more confident traveling independently in challenging areas and I still read braille every week. I am a current client of Vocational Rehabilitation. I am a student at the University of Utah studying for a Master’s degree in teaching. I have been able to maintain a 3.9 GPA and was fortunate enough to win two NFB scholarships and a U of U scholarship which was applied to my tuition, lowering the amount paid by Vocational Rehabilitation.
Board Member: Sachin Pavithran
Sachin Pavithran was born in India, but grew up in Dubai which is in the United Arab Emirates. Sachin came to the US at the age of 17 to start his college career at Utah State University. He graduated from USU with a degree in Business Information Systems, and another degree in Marketing. Sachin received his Masters in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling at Utah State University. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Disability Disciplines. Sachin is currently the Program Director of the Utah Assistive Technology Program (UATP) and the Disability Policy Analyst for the Center for Persons with Disabilities. Sachin enjoys being an advocate for people with disabilities. He keeps up with the research and development of various assistive technologies, and is involved nationally in working with legislators in the Federal Government to bring a change in various Federal Policies for the benefit of individuals with disabilities. He has reached out to the international community on Disability Policy and Infra Structure Development based on the requirements set forth by the UNCRPD. He has trained and presented in several countries such as Egypt, Syria, Philippines, and Turkey. Sachin has over twelve years of direct involvement in development, testing, and training for accessibility for assistive technology, extensive experience in lecturing and training others in accessible technology. Sachin provides technical assistance on accessible information technology for individuals and groups. He helps in the evaluation of products related to web accessibility and design. He sits on various boards nationally, such as, The Research and Development committee for the National Federation of the Blind, The National Multicultural Council, and Senator Hatch’s Advisory board for disability policy. He was appointed by President Obama to the U.S. Access Board where he chairs the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Committee. This committee is charged to oversee section 508 refresh. He also chairs the Self-Service Transaction Machines Committee which is responsible to draft technical standards for self-services machines nationally. Sachin aspires to be in the fore-front of establishing and implementing national and international policy that impacts people with disabilities around the world.
Board Member: Ian Reed Bio Coming Soon
Board Member: William Black Bio coming soon
Board Member: Deja Powell
Deja Powell was born and raised in Salt Lake City and was diagnosed with a visual impairment at nine months old. Deja has been blind her whole life, but because of having significant residual vision, she was never taught braille, cane travel, or how to use assistive technology. Deja’s parents however, always had the insight to push her to excel, set high expectations for her, and required her do the same things any other child should do. She was very active growing up participating in dance, gymnastics, singing, bicycling, acting, skiing, camping, and hiking. Early on Deja loved to boss people around, and often put on elaborate plays and musicals in her neighborhood; She still likes to boss people around. In high school she was part of the choir, performed in various school musicals, was a cheerleader for three years, and wrote for the school newspaper. In 2001, Deja joined the National Federation of the Blind, and attended her first National Convention that year in Philidelphia. Today, Deja is an active member of the organization, serving as a board member for the NFB of Utah. She is also an orientation and mobility (cane travel) instructor at the Division of Services for the Blind in SLC, and has now taught at the agency for four years. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism from Utah State University, a Masters in Educational Psychology from Louisiana Tech University, and is currently a PhD Candidate in K-12 Education Studies at Capella University. Truman Capote said, in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, “Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.” Deja gives significant credit for her happiness and confidence to her parents, training at the Louisiana Center for the Blind, graduate work at Louisiana Tech, and the National Federation of the Blind. When Deja is not working on her dissertation or teaching, she loves anything related to shoes, cupcakes, fashion, glitter, being an aunt, football, pink, and dancing. She also attributes much of her happiness to her very good looking husband Lucas. Deja leaves a trail of glitter wherever she goes, and loves her life, preferably dipped in chocolate.