National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey 42nd ANNUAL STATE CONVENTION
November 1st through 4th, 2018
Theme: Live The Life You Want; Blind With Vision
Hosts: State Board and the Sports & Recreation Division of NFBNJ
The 42nd Annual State Convention of the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey will be held at the:
Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel
515 US Highway 1 South
Iselin, New Jersey 08830
Access Link accessible
Cross street: Gill Lane
For those arriving via Access Link, please reserve your trip with the hotel located in Woodbridge. Access Link won’t be able to find the hotel if you use Iselin.
If traveling via train, the station nearest the hotel is the Metro Park Station. The hotel provides a shuttle from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm.
The address to use for those driving is 4 Gill Lane. It is a bank that is across the street from the hotel.
We are proud to announce that Carla McQuillan, national board member and President of the Oregon affiliate has been selected to serve as our national representative. Her biography is provided below.
Mark your calendars and make every effort to attend the 42nd annual state convention of the NFBNJ. Get Involved. Make a Difference!
The Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel is now accepting room reservations for the state convention. To make your reservation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, please dial 732-634-3600 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 2018 room rates forstandard rooms are $106 a night, and junior suites are $146 a night. Hotel room rates are subject to applicable state and local taxes, which at present is 14.625% and will be in effect at the time of check-out. Breakfast Buffet included in rate for up to two guests per room.
For early arrivals, there are a number of rooms reserved for Wednesday, October 31st. There will be another function in the hotel and rooms will vanish quickly. Don’t hesitate, please make your room reservations as soon as possible. Currently 180 rooms in our block have been reserved! Our block of rooms are available until October 5th, then they are released to the general public. In years past, the block sells out prior to the deadline, so please don’t hesitate!
When making hotel room reservations,you need to secure via credit card. There will be no charge to your card until you arrive at the hotel. There are a limited number of refrigerators and if you are in need for medical reasons,please inform the staff when making your hotel reservation. In addition, there are a limited number of wheelchair accessible rooms and if needed, don’t hesitate, make it known when you are making your room reservation.
With this said, if you are thinking about attending, if you are somewhat positive that you will attend, not quite sure you will attend and to those that know that they will attend, PLEASE make your hotel reservations as soon as possible.
Note: if you can not attend and you have made hotel reservations, don’t call the hotel to cancel. Please call Joe Ruffalo at 973-743-0075. Joe usually has a waiting list to review as many learn about the state convention after the date of October 5th. if the block is not sold out, the remainder of rooms
will be released to the public. In years past, the block sells out prior to
the deadline and therefore, Please, don’t hesitate!
Guide Dog Relief Area
The guide dog relief area will be announced at a later date.
We are planning to distribute the pre registration information by the last week in August and or early September; however, don’t hesitate to reserve your hotel room!
Videos from Previous State Convention
Videos from a previous year’s state convention can be viewed on our YouTube channel, NFBNJTransformDreams.
Here are the direct links to the playlist for previous state conventions.
NFBNJ Presidential Reports
Here are the NFBNJ Presidential Reports given by affiliate president Joe Ruffalo during our state conventions.
National Rep Bio
Carla McQuillan, Executive Director of Main Street Montessori Association
Carla was born and raised in Southern California in the early 60’s, the youngest of 4 children. In the summer before fifth grade, Carla lost a great deal of vision but did not notice it until she started school in the fall and was unable to read the chalkboard from the front row. A few years earlier, her older brother had been diagnosed with a rare genetic eye condition called Stargardt’s disease, which resulted in the loss of central vision. It was soon confirmed that Carla had the same condition. She was diagnosed legally blind in 1971.
Because of her remaining peripheral vision, Carla did not “look blind”, so she was not taught Braille or any other alternative techniques of blindness. She had very little experience with blind people. The only blind person she knew was her brother, and he was forever using his blindness as an excuse for standing on the sidelines. Carla knew that this was not the life she wanted and was determined to do everything in her power to convince the world that she was not blind.
After high school Carla went to Humboldt State University in Northern California. There she met her husband Lucas. They were married in the summer of 1981 and moved to San Diego for Lucas’s master’s degree program. Though Carla had not completed her bachelor’s degree, she was more than happy to put her college career on hold and work to support the couple. Her one year of college had not been very successful. Without the ability to read Braille and eyesight too poor to read print, Carla, who had been an A student in high school, saw her grades drop.
She got a job as a Montessori Preschool teacher in San Diego while Lucas completed his master’s degree. Their daughter Alison was born in 1983. In 1985 the family moved to Illinois. Lucas enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of Illinois, and Carla decided to complete her bachelor’s degree. With Lucas’ encouragement, Carla asked for accessible textbooks and decided to learn Braille. The staff at the university’s disabled student’s services office told her how difficult Braille would be to learn and how inefficient it would be. Discouraged and defeated, Carla wondered if there was any hope for her future. Fortunately she learned of a scholarship program through the National Federation of the Blind. She won a scholarship from the organization’s Illinois affiliate in 1988. The state convention changed her life. Her negative attitudes about blindness and about her own potential to be a successful professional were replaced by confidence and self-assurance that remain a hallmark of her character today.
After both graduating with High Distinction from the University of Illinois in 1988, the McQuillans completed their family with the birth of their son Duncan. They moved to Oregon to be near Carla’s family. Carla started her own Montessori preschool, which later expanded to include 3 schools and a Montessori Teacher Certification Program. Carla served as President of the National Federation of the Blind of Oregon from 1992 until 2006, when her business responsibilities became too demanding. She also served on the NFB’s national board of directors from 1998 until resigning from that position as well in 2006. She was re-elected president of the Oregon affiliate in 2012 and still serves in that capacity. She is the director of NFB Camp, the program that offers child care during the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind. Carla was again elected to the national board of directors in 2016.
“I had such horrible misconceptions about blindness for most of my childhood and early adult life,” Carla says. “I thought I knew what blindness meant, and I didn’t want any part of it. The National Federation of the Blind taught me that blindness was only as limiting as I allowed it to be. My friends and colleagues in the movement have been more than ideal role models; they have saved me from a life of regret and underachievement.”
If you have questions and need additional information, please contact:
Joseph Ruffalo, President
254 Spruce Street
Bloomfield, NJ 07003