2023 Peter J. Salmon Award Winner

Mary Elizabeth Clare – Envision

Mary Elizabeth Clare distinctly remembers starting her job as a store clerk at the AbilityOne Base Supply Center® (BSC) operated by Envision at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. It was March 2020, and the next day the base closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Deemed essential, the BSC remained open, but customer traffic decreased significantly. Clare took advantage of the time to not only become familiar with the store, but to make braille labels for bin tags to improve organization and inventory accuracy, and to better assist customers on the sales floor.

Her flair for innovation didn’t stop there. Over the past three years, store manager Marla Page says Clare has designed and staged end caps featuring AbilityOne products, contributing to a 15% increase in AbilityOne sales in 2022. She also created displays to showcase how the prices and selection at the BSC are competitive with big box stores.

While taking classes to complete her bachelor’s degree in business management, Clare has mastered many store functions, including generating a variety of reports, updating inventory counts, searching for products, and loading and updating customer account profiles. Her desire to learn every aspect of store operations led her to take on more responsibilities and suggest innovative approaches to store processes. For example, when she learned that selling an item at the register triggers the reordering process, she recommended adjustments to minimum and maximum product levels based on sales history and inventory age.

A member of the 2022 class of NIB’s Advocates for Leadership and Employment program, Clare has met with Idaho legislators and the state’s lieutenant governor several times to discuss the needs of people who are blind or visually impaired. She credits the Advocates program with increasing her confidence, not just in public speaking but in traveling independently as a person who is blind – the first time she flew alone was to Washington, D.C., for the program.

Page uses one word to describe Clare: tenacious. Noting that Clare lost her vision quite suddenly at the age of 36, Page says, “I’ve never met anyone who works so diligently to overcome obstacles, not only for herself, but for others who may follow in her footsteps.”

Envision President and CEO Michael Monteferrante agrees. “Mary Beth is an exemplary employee who goes above and beyond in her role. She finds creative solutions and thinks about the future and how she can make a positive impact. We are lucky to have her on the Envision team. We couldn’t be prouder of her.”

As for her future, Clare hopes to manage her own BSC store someday, and eventually to become a book author.