Currently employed as the Director of Strategic Communications for the National Federation of the Blind in Baltimore, Maryland, Lewis is responsible for a variety of public relations, governmental affairs, and strategic programs. Most notably, the NFB’s Blind Driver Challenge™, an innovative research project to develop nonvisual access technology that will make it possible for a blind person to safely and independently operate an automobile.
Anil Lewis was born in 1964 in Atlanta, Georgia, and was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) at age nine. Originally mislabeled as “educably mentally retarded,” Lewis excelled academically and became the first member of his family to attend a four-year college.
Lewis became blind from his RP in 1989, while pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in Computer Information Systems at Georgia State University (GSU). Determined not to be defined by his blindness, Lewis received blindness skills training while completing his course requirements for his degree at GSU. After graduating in 1993, Lewis became affiliated with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and became empowered by their philosophy of independence. Starting as President of the Atlanta Metropolitan Chapter, he eventually served as President of the NFB of Georgia for eight years and was elected to the NFB Board of Directors.
Lewis started his career as a Braille and Assistive Technology Instructor and was quickly promoted to Job Development/Placement Specialist, helping clients develop employment skills and get jobs. He went on to develop and manage a job placement program for people with disabilities as the Manager of the Disability Employment Initiative with Randstad Staffing, one of the largest employment staffing companies in the world. Until 2006, he was employed by the law offices of Martin and Jones as the Georgia Client Assistance Program (CAP) counselor/advocate, representing people with disabilities every day. He was appointed by the governor as a Board Member and President of the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) of Georgia, an organization promoting independent living for those with severe disabilities. He also served as the Founding Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Disability Law and Policy Center (DLPC) of Georgia, and worked as an independent disability consultant until 2010.
Lewis has received numerous awards for his work in the disability community. He was the 2002 recipient of the Kenneth Jernigan Memorial Scholarship, which he used to obtain his Master’s degree in Public Administration with emphasis in policy analysis and program evaluation from GSU in 2003. He received an Outstanding Alumnus award from GSU in 1997 and was also a 2003 GSU Torch Bearer of Peace Award recipient. In 2004, the American Bar Association presented Lewis with its Paul G. Hearn Advocacy Award. In 2006 Lewis was named alumnus of the year by Leadership DeKalb, a community leadership development organization in DeKalb County, Georgia. Lewis is also a graduate of the Leadership Georgia program, class of 2008.
In his personal life, Lewis’ volunteers as a teacher and mentor to children who are blind, working so they receive the training and tools they need to reach their full potential. His proudest accomplishment is his bright, ambitious son Amari, born in 1997.
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