The National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey State Convention is the largest gathering of blind people in the state. It is the premier event for training, support, and information for the blind community. It also serves as a governing body, democratically electing our leadership and establishing each year’s organizational priorities.
National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey 47th ANNUAL STATE CONVENTION
Thursday, November 9 through Sunday, November 12, 20223
Theme: It Begins With Us
Register and make a difference in the lives of blind New Jerseyans!
The 47th Annual State Convention of the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey will be held at:
Crowne Plaza Edison
2055 Lincoln Highway
Edison, NJ 08817
The hotel is accessible by NJ Transit Access Link or from the Edison rail station on the Northeast Corridor line. The hotel has no shuttle service so train travelers will need to take a short Uber or Lyft ride from the rail station.
We will be live streaming portions of the convention that will be recorded for archival purposes on the website.
Note: The agenda will be finalized, distributed, and posted on the state website in mid to late October. Yes, the agenda will be available on NEWSLINE® too!
Here is your chance to participate and learn more about the NFB’s programs and goals on the state and national level. Hear from the NFB national representative. Also, hear from speakers on topics of national and state importance, membership, seniors, technology, Braille, students, guide dog users, and parents’ concerns, meet the scholarship class of 2023 and much more!
We are proud to announce that Anil Lewis, Executive Director of Blindness Initiatives at the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, will be serving as our national rep this year. Click here to read his bio.
Mark your calendars and make every effort to attend the 47th Annual State Convention of the NFB of New Jersey. Get involved. Make a difference! Please share with others, everyone is welcome!
Convention Dates to Keep in Mind
- October 2 at 7 PM – Affiliate Convention Meeting; all are invited
- October 26 – Pre-Registration Closes at 5 PM
- October 26 – Hotel Block Reservation closes at 5 PM
- October 30 at 7 PM – Rookie Round-Up for Conventioneers
- November 9 through November 12 – NFBNJ 47th Annual State Convention; It Begins with Us !
The Crowne Plaza Hotel Edison is now accepting room reservations for the State Convention. To make your reservation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, please visit our room reservation booking link, or by dialing 732-287-3500 and use the group code of NFB. The best time to call is during regular business hours, 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. The 2023 room rate is $119 a night for up to four occupants in a room per night. Hotel room rates are subject to 6.625% New Jersey State tax, 5.0% Occupancy tax and 3.0% Municipal tax. All taxes are subject to change without prior notice, and will be in effect at the time of check-out. Rates include Bagged Continental Breakfast (chef’s choice to include a bread, fruit, juice and hot beverage).
The Hotel will be releasing our block of rooms on Thursday, October 26, 2023 at 5 PM so make your reservation quickly. You will need a credit card to secure your reservation, There will be no charge to your card until you arrive at the hotel. In addition, there are a limited number of wheelchair accessible rooms and if needed, make it known when you are making your room reservation.
Note: If you can not attend and you have made hotel reservations, don’t call the hotel to cancel. Please call Linda Melendez at 908-590-1747. Linda usually has a waiting list to review as many learn about the State Convention after Thursday, October 26.
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- 2023 NFBNJ State Convention Registration Form (HTML)
- 2023 NFBNJ State Convention Registration Form (Rich Text Formatted Document)
- 2023 NFBNJ State Convention Registration Form (PDF)
State Convention Donations
To make a donation via PayPal, click on the link below:
To donate by check, please make your check payable to NFBNJ and mail to:
National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey
7 Mayfair Road
Southampton, NJ 08088
In the memo please write, convention donation.
Companies and individuals can support the programs and projects of the NFB of NJ by becoming a sponsor. There are four levels of sponsorship for all to consider and can be paid via PayPal or by sending a check to our Affiliate Treasurer Annemarie Cooke (7 Mayfair Road, Southampton, NJ 08088) and writing convention sponsor in the memo section.
- It Begins With Us: $500+
- Blind with Vision: $250 to $499
- Live the Life You Want: $100 to $249
- Raising Expectations: $50 to $99
All sponsors will be listed in our agenda, on our website and in all convention agenda email communications throughout our NFB Network. Sponsors who register at the “It Starts With Us” category by donating $500+” will also be given the opportunity to include a website link in our program materials.
2022 Exhibitors & Sponsors
The National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey thank all exhibitors and sponsors for their support to change what it means to be blind. To view the listing of exhibitors and sponsors for our 46th state convention, “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now; We’re On The Move,” please visit www.nfbnj.org/state-convention/exhibitors-and-sponsors and then click on the appropriate link to view info for either the sponsors or the exhibitors. Each exhibitor has provided a short audio/video clip to describe what they have to offer.
Please use the following link to register as a sponsor.
You can also register as a sponsor by indicating you want your donation of $50 or more to be listed as a sponsorship donation while either completing the convention registration form or the convention donation form.
Integrity and Respect
To allow all attendees the chance to benefit from all aspects of the convention, we are committed to providing a harassment-free environment for everyone. We appreciate your assistance in cultivating an atmosphere in which participants from diverse backgrounds may learn, network, and share with each other in an environment of mutual respect. Thank you for doing your part to contribute to our community and the high expectations we strive to maintain.
Please visit the following link for the code of conduct:
Past State Conventions
Please visit our Past Conventions page to access audio and video highlights from previous state conventions.
Anil Lewis, Executive Director of Blindness Initiatives
National Federation of the Blind
(Counselor, Advocate, and Father)
Anil Lewis was born in 1964 in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the third of four children. Both his older brother and older sister became legally blind at an early age from retinitis pigmentosa. Lewis was originally labeled educably mentally retarded but eventually became the first member of his family to graduate from college. He has excelled academically, received many awards, participated as a leader in many extracurricular activities, and received several college scholarships. Although he was finally diagnosed at age nine with retinitis pigmentosa, his vision was fairly unaffected until age twenty-five.
Currently employed as the executive director of Blindness Initiatives for the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), located in Baltimore, Maryland, 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.
Previously, as the director of Advocacy and Policy for the NFB, Lewis was responsible for a variety of public policy and strategic programs. Most notably, he was the legislative lead of the NFB’s efforts to repeal Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, an obsolete provision that allows employers to pay workers with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage. While serving as the director of Strategic Communications for the NFB, Lewis coordinated the public relations campaign for the NFB’s Blind Driver Challenge™, an innovative research project to develop nonvisual access technology that made it possible for a blind person to safely and independently operate an automobile.
As a sighted man he fairly easily found respectable employment with wages high above the minimum wage. Then in 1989, while pursuing his Bachelor of Business Administration in Computer Information Systems at Georgia State University (GSU), he became blind from retinitis pigmentosa. “All of a sudden doors that had been open to me slammed shut.” At that point, although he had always considered himself socially aware, he became personally acquainted with actual social injustice and discrimination. “I am ashamed that only personal experience brought this awakening and decision to take action. But I am proud that I did take action and remain committed today to making a difference in the lives of others.”
Lewis received blindness skills training while completing his course requirements for his degree at GSU. He quickly learned the alternative skills of blindness, including Braille, activities of daily living, assistive technology, and use of the long white cane. He capitalized on them to graduate with his bachelor’s degree from Georgia State in 1993. “It was a struggle to regain the life that blindness had appeared to take from me. Almost everyone who had once respected me now pitied me, but I was determined not to be redefined by my blindness.” Armed with these new skills and this new determination, he quickly became committed to ensuring that others in similar situations could get appropriate training and unlimited opportunities.
Lewis got a job as a Braille and assistive technology instructor. Within a year he was given the greater responsibility of job development/placement specialist, helping clients develop employment skills and get jobs. “I had had no experience helping anyone other than myself get a job. I certainly did not have expertise in job placement for blind people.” It was during this time that he first became aware of the National Federation of the Blind. A friend referred him to the NFB when he had questions about Social Security work incentives and needed information about tools and strategies to help blind people obtain employment. As a result, he attended his first NFB convention in Chicago, Illinois, in 1995 and became aware of the empowering philosophy and tremendous resource of the National Federation of the Blind. The technical assistance materials produced by the NFB’s Job Opportunities for the Blind (JOB) program and the NFB’s Social Security and technical assistance information provided resources enabling him to motivate, educate, and encourage other blind people to achieve successful gainful employment. “My success as a job placement specialist was a direct result of my ability to infuse NFB philosophy into the individuals I assisted.”
Lewis 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, during the Atlanta Olympic and Para-Olympic Games in 1996. From 1997 until early 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 served as a disability consultant working with various companies in Georgia from 2006 until 2010, at which time he began working for the NFB’s national office.
An active member of the NFB, Lewis became president of the Atlanta Metropolitan Chapter of the NFB of Georgia in 2000 and was elected president of the NFB of Georgia in 2002. In that year he also received the Kenneth Jernigan Memorial Scholarship, the NFB’s most prestigious award presented to a blind student, which he used to obtain his Master of Public Administration with emphasis in Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation from GSU in 2003. That year he was also elected as a member of the board of directors of the National Federation of the Blind. 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 their 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, and the Greater Baltimore LEADERship program, class of 2015.
Lewis has dedicated his leadership skills to the development and growth of disability rights organizations that promote independence and improve quality of life. He was appointed by the governor as a board member and served as 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, which used a variety of methods to influence and enforce disability policy. Lewis was appointed by the governor of Maryland and served as chairperson of the Maryland Statewide Rehabilitation Council, which takes an active and visible role in how Maryland’s public vocational rehabilitation program is administered. While serving as a board member of the American Association of People with Disabilities, Lewis helped promote equal opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation for people with disabilities. He was also appointed by President Obama as a member of the Committee for Purchase from People Who are Blind or Severely Disabled, known as the U.S. AbilityOne Commission, which administers the AbilityOne Program, a unique employment program sponsored by the Federal Government serving the needs of people who are blind or have other significant disabilities.
All of these organizations recognize that people with disabilities are integral, necessary members of society and reflect the world’s normal diversity. Further, each works to ensure that the policies and programs developed for people with disabilities are created and implemented by people with disabilities. By helping to develop and strengthen such institutions to serve as a cornerstone in protecting the rights of people with disabilities, he hopes to secure the commitment and support of others. He also hopes to reduce the barriers people with disabilities face by encouraging the implementation of public policy securing the rights and promoting the responsible participation of the disabled as productive citizens.
Lewis volunteers as a teacher and mentor for blind students who, due to limited resources and lack of trained professionals to teach them, are not empowered with the skills and positive self-concept to pursue their dreams. He works with other members of the NFB to set high expectations and create the systems change necessary to help these students transform their dreams into reality.
Speaking of his personal life, Anil Lewis says that his proudest accomplishment is his bright, ambitious son Amari, born in 1997. Balancing his many civic responsibilities with his personal life as a father is undoubtedly his greatest challenge. His greatest success, he thinks, has been overcoming the temptation to subside into becoming an unmotivated, self-pitying person with a disability. He thinks his greatest contribution so far has been to encourage other people with disabilities to believe in themselves and to understand that they can make a difference.
Lewis says that lack of awareness of individuals with traits outside society’s accepted norms promotes extreme ignorance, which in turn results in unjustified fear, negative stereotypes, and discrimination. In an effort to combat that ignorance, he aggressively recruits, refers, and supports other like-minded people to become active in the National Federation of the Blind and other organizations in the disability rights movement. He hopes to promote social change by fostering the active participation of more people with disabilities in every facet of society, thereby replacing ignorance with understanding, fear with awareness, and negative stereotypes with mutual understanding. In the process he believes that we will eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities. “With a working knowledge of most disability law and policy and extended experience in advocating for the rights of others, I am committed to improving the quality of life for all people with disabilities by working to remove the barriers of ignorance while creating equal opportunities for all. My personal mission is simple: I want to make a positive difference in the lives of others.”
If you have questions and need additional information, please contact us at 908-590-1747 or via our contact us form.