To say Jennifer Holladay keeps busy as manager of information and volunteer services at the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CABVI) is an understatement. Her role involves leading four staff members and hundreds of volunteers who help the agency throughout the year with special events, mailings, audio information services, and more.
“My passion is helping volunteers ‘fill their cup’ with the volunteer opportunity they most enjoy,” Holladay explains.
That passion led NIB to award Holladay the 2022 national Milton J. Samuelson Career Achievement Award. The award is named for former NIB board member and executive director of The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired, Milton J. Samuelson, who advocated for upward mobility and placement programs benefitting people who are blind or visually impaired.
Blind since birth, Holladay grew up on a small farm in Northern Kentucky, where she participated in 4H, showing lambs and rabbits, and served as vice president of the local FFA Organization (formerly known as Future Farmers of America). She first came to CABVI in third grade and continued participating in programs to fine-tune her mobility, access technology, and communication skills through college.
Holladay, who has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in public administration, joined the agency in 2003 as a summer intern working in community relations. She was hired in 2006 as coordinator of volunteers for the agency’s One-on-One services and promoted to her current role in 2016.
A large part of Holladay’s role involves CABVI’s audio information services, including the Radio Reading Service, CABVI’s own radio station that broadcasts daily news from local and national newspapers and magazines 24/7 and, in conjunction with the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled,
the Talking Books Service that allows people who are visually impaired to listen to books and magazines recorded by professional narrators.
“One of my greatest accomplishments was leading a team of staff and volunteers to transition to reading and recording remotely at the onset of the pandemic,” she says.
Since joining the agency, Holladay has worked to increase her knowledge and participation in fundraising as a way to increase state-level support for CABVI’s information services.
Specifically, she is working to create an additional studio for the agency’s radio reading services. She also helped evolve the technology platforms for Audio Information Services by launching podcast and echo programs for easier and broader accessibility.
Named chair of CABVI’s mission commission in 2021, Holladay works on accessibility at the agency to make sure people who are blind or have low vision are being heard. “It’s exciting to work on a cross-departmental team comprised solely of people who are blind,” she says.
“Jennifer has been part of our community relations team since I joined CABVI nearly six years ago,” says Vice President of Community Relations and Chief Development Officer Aaron Bley. “She is an amazing manager and advocate for our agency, but more importantly, for our mission. Her commitment to continually learning and growing as a leader is inspiring. She positively touches everyone she is
CABVI President and CEO Teri Shirk agrees. “Jennifer’s career and growth as a leader within CABVI is impressive. She continues, as she has for many years, to seek new opportunities for professional and personal growth. She is so deserving of this recognition and honor; CABVI is excited to celebrate
“My goal is to continue to grow opportunities for individuals who are blind or visually impaired to have as many ways to access print material as possible,” Holladay says. “I want to make a positive difference in other people’s lives.”