State Convention

 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
Honoring Longtime Member Brian Mackey

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!

Room Reservations

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 184 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.


When registering using the online form, please complete the form using either Chrome, Firefox, or Safari due to PayPal dropping support for Internet Explorer earlier this year.

Child Care

Childcare will be available on Saturday, November 3rd, only, by request. PLEASE CALL
JOE RUFFALO at 973-743-0075 BY October 15 TO REQUEST CHILDCARE.

Food Pantry Drive

Please bring a nonperishable food, household, or personal item to donate to a local food pantry.

Cane Collection Drive

For the second year in a row we will be running a cane drive at our annual NFBNJ state convention in November. After convention the canes and cane parts will be shipped to Kustom Cane in Tennessee. They will then refurbish the canes and send them to blind people all over the world who do not have the same luxury access to canes as we do. Last year we got over 30 canes from members donating at convention, and many of them were sent to Africa, and they were all so grateful. Please bring unwanted canes of all sizes, unwanted cane tips or other random parts of broken canes, to state convention and give them to Vee Gaspa. If you are not able to make it to convention this year, but have unwanted canes or cane parts, or have any other questions please contact Vee Gaspa at or 434-989-1868.

Free Aira Site Access at National Federation of the Blind State Conventions

The National Federation of the Blind has partnered with Aira to provide free Aira Site Access to NFB members during our 2018 state convention. Aira subscribers who are National Federation of the Blind members can use the service at our convention for free without having minutes deducted from their plans. In addition, those interested in Aira have the unique opportunity to try out the service for free while at our convention. This convention-wide, free site access is available only at NFB state conventions, giving NFB members an exclusive opportunity to test-drive Aira in a convention setting.

Aira allows blind individuals to connect via live video to a trained agent through a mobile app or wearable glasses to get real-time visual information or assistance. Learn more about Aira and special pricing available for NFB members at

How it Works

Before you head to convention or as soon as you get there, download the free Aira app from the App Store, and create a guest account if you are not already an Aira subscriber. Also, make sure your phone’s GPS feature is enabled. When you enter the convention Site Access location, your phone will receive a notification letting you know that the space you are in is part of the Aira Network. When you connect with an agent, he or she will also confirm that you are now covered by the network, and no minutes will be deducted from your account.

When you leave or enter convention areas that are covered by the Site Access network, you will be informed by the Aira agent.

To learn more about Aira and the special plan available exclusively to NFB members, visit

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.”

Additional Information

If you have questions and need additional information, please contact:
Joseph Ruffalo, President
254 Spruce Street
Bloomfield, NJ 07003
Phone: 973-743-0075

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Contact Information

Joseph Ruffalo, President
254 Spruce Street
Bloomfield, NJ 07003
Phone: 973-743-0075

Coming Soon

NFBNJ 42nd State Convention

November 1through 4, 2018
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.

PayPal Donations

Please make a donation to the National Federation of the Blind general account, our general scholarship account, the Joe/Rose Ruffalo Memorial Scholarship account, or the Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) Academy. Please indicate which account you wish the donation to go into when making your contribution. You do not need to have a PayPal account to donate, simply use the information from your debit/credit card if you don't have PayPal. All donations are tax deductible. To make a donation to NFBNJ via PayPal, please visit our PayPal Donations page.