National Industries for the Blind Awards Gidget Hopf Its Highest Honor for Growing Employment Opportunities for People Who Are Blind

Alexandria, Virginia—National Industries for the Blind (NIB), the nation’s largest employment resource for people who are blind, will recognize Dr. A. Gidget Hopf with its highest honor, the R.B. Irwin Award, for her career achievements creating employment opportunities for people who are blind.

The award honors the recently retired leader of NIB associated nonprofit agency Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI) – Goodwill of the Finger Lakes, who grew the organization to employ more than 600 people in manufacturing, contact center, food service, and Goodwill retail.

The award is named for Dr. Robert B. Irwin, executive director of the American Foundation for the Blind in the 1930s and a member of the team who worked toward the formation of NIB.

“The Irwin Award is NIB’s highest honor given to those who have made outstanding contributions to creating and improving employment opportunities for people who are blind,” said Paul Healy, chairperson, NIB board of directors. “Considering all that Gidget has done in her 34-year career to help people who are blind gain personal and economic independence, we are pleased to honor her in this way.”

One of Hopf’s earliest achievements was establishing a relationship with 3M corporation which secured a major contract for ABVI with the federal government to produce and distribute self-stick notes. Today, the agency produces 37 products using 3M materials and nine other NIB associated agencies have products that are co-branded or made with quality 3M materials.

New and exciting employment opportunities followed the self-stick notes success. Contracts for sewing of Coast Guard and Air Force uniforms, production of eco-friendly cleaning products, and a myriad of other products sold to New York State and federal government customers provided additional job opportunities and revenue to fund local mission services.

Most noteworthy is Hopf’s determination to create upward mobility opportunities for her team members who are blind, which led to developing a call center more than 20 years ago. Started with just two people, the contact center currently employs some 80 individuals supporting a variety of commercial and governmental contracts.

“We are delighted to honor Gidget with this prestigious award,” said NIB President, and CEO Kevin Lynch. “Over her career at ABVI, her entrepreneurial spirit and passion for the people she serves in the greater Rochester area has had a profound impact on their lives. Gidget truly embodies all that is best about our program.”


About National Industries for the Blind

Since 1938, National Industries for the Blind (NIB) has focused on enhancing the opportunities for economic and personal independence of people who are blind, primarily through creating, sustaining, and improving employment. NIB and its network of associated nonprofit agencies are the nation’s largest employer of people who are blind through the manufacture and provision of SKILCRAFT® and other products and services of the AbilityOne® Program. For more information about NIB, visit