A professor in performing arts technology at the school of Music, Theatre and Dance at the University of Michigan, Sile O’Modhrain brings a wide breadth of personal and professional skill to the Holman Prize committee. With past careers in sound engineering, technology, music and more – and passionate study in the fields of arts, assistive technology, and haptics – O’Modhrain is constantly in search of better ways for blind people to access information and work in the world.
A passionate advocate for the rights, education and employment of blind people everywhere, Anil Lewis currently serves as the executive director of Blindness Initiatives for the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute in Baltimore, MD, where he leads a dynamic team of individuals responsible for the creation, development, implementation, and replication of innovative projects and programs throughout a nationwide network of affiliates that work to positively affect the education, employment, and quality of life of all blind people.
“Blindness is a paradigm shift.”
A longtime professional and recognized leader in the field of vocational rehabilitation, Rosa Gomez is currently the assistant deputy director of the Specialized Services Division of the California State Department of Rehabilitation. Appointed by Governor Jerry Brown and working from the state capitol in Sacramento, Gomez works to boost the employment rate of blind and low vision jobseekers across the state.
Aerial embodies the spirit of the Holman Prize. An avid beekeeper, athlete, cook and connoisseur of good living, Aerial joined our 2017 Prizewinners during their Welcome Week activities to guide, share techniques, and understand the pulse of this ever-evolving new prize. A former outreach manager for Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, she is also an accomplished rower and has competed in the adaptive division of the World Rowing Championships.
A proud father of four, Gary Wunder serves as the president of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri, and the editor of the Braille Monitor, the flagship publication of the National Federation of the Blind. The first five years of his public education were conducted in the public schools of Kansas City, Missouri. He attended both the University of Missouri at Columbia and Central Missouri State University, taking a degree from the latter institution in electronics technology.
Dr. Sheri Wells-Jensen is an associate professor in the Department of English at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Her research interests include xenolinguistics, phonetics, braille, language preservation, TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages), language creation, and disability studies. She has even lectured at SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) about the notion of communicating with extraterrestrials who may not have vision. Dr. Wells-Jensen also coordinates BGSU’s graduate certificate in TESOL and teaches courses in general linguistics, applied phonology and applied syntax. She is a founding member of the Grande Royale Ukulelists of the Black Swamp and coordinates ESOL classes in Bowling Green.
Dr. Sacks is recently retired from her post as Superintendent of the California School for the Blind. During her tenure, Dr. Sacks led a staff of 150 and promoted education excellence for students served on campus and through outreach programs throughout the state. Prior to her role as superintendent, Dr. Sacks was the Director of Curriculum, Assessment, & Staff Development at CSB. After receiving her doctorate, Sharon coordinated programs, and was a university professor in moderate/severe disabilities at San Jose State University, and programs in visual impairments at California State University, Los Angeles. Dr. Sacks worked as a TVI for eight years as a resource and itinerant teacher prior to assuming leadership positions.
She has conducted research, presented nationally and internationally, and published widely in the areas of social skills instruction for students with visual impairments, psycho-social implications of visual impairment, transition programming for students with visual impairments, and strategies to educate students with visual impairments and multiple disabilities. Dr. Sacks has provided consultation, assessment, and program evaluation services to schools and agencies serving children and adults with visual impairments.
Dr. Sacks is a strong advocate for ensuring quality services for children and adults who are blind or visually impaired through her direct work with families, consumer organizations, and professional organizations. She is the recipient of the Mary K. Bauman Award for Distinguished Service in Education, and a past president of AERBVI. Dr. Sacks currently serves on the Lighthouse’s Board of Directors.
An accomplished author, Roberts’ acclaimed work, about the intrepid blind traveler (and namesake of this prize) James Holman, “A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveler,” was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award, long-listed for the international Guardian First Book Award, and named a Best Book of the Year by the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle and Kirkus Reviews. Born in Southern California, Roberts earned his high school diploma at fourteen, then took a five-year hiatus from education. He worked as a day laborer, dishwasher and late-night disc jockey before matriculating at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He lives in Sausalito, California, with his wife, a chemical engineer, and their two young children.
Dr. Miller was born in Michigan, where he lived until the age of ten when his family moved to San Diego, California. He obtained a bachelor’s in political science, and a master’s in international relations and comparative governments from San Diego State University. He earned his doctorate in history from the University of Iowa, with a focus on disability rights movements, and Latin American history. He enjoys giving lectures on, among other subjects, the history of exploration. Dr. Miller currently works for the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in Washington D.C. Miller frequently travels internationally, having visited more than 65 countries on six continents.