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Pennsylvania Advisory Committee for the Blind

Mission Statement

The mission of the Advisory Committee for the Blind of Pennsylvania is to assist Pennsylvanians with disabilities to secure and maintain employment and independence. This committee advises the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation executive director in all program areas, including but not limited to: vocational rehabilitation, rehabilitation teaching, independent living services, orientation and mobility services, specialized services, and the business enterprise program. It also makes informed recommendations concerning program and service development, expansion, and enhancement.

Committee Formation

The Committee was established by Section 2225 of Senate Bill No. 970 signed into law by Governor Tom Ridge on June 22, 1999.

ACBP Meeting Dates for 2015
  • May 19, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. at Salus University, 8360 Old York Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027
  • September 21 at PaTTAN Office 6340 Flank Drive, Harrisburg PA 17112
ACBP Meeting Dates for 2016
  • Tuesday, February 23 at BBVS Central Office, 1521 N 6th Street, Harrisburg, PA 17102
  • Tuesday, May 24 from 9 a.m.- noon at HARRISBURG BLINDNESS & VISUAL SERVICES DISTRICT OFFICE, Forum Place, 555 Walnut Street, 8th Floor Harrisburg PA 17101
  • Tuesday, August 16, 2016 from 9 a.m. - noon at ALTOONA BLINDNESS & VISUAL SERVICES DISTRICT OFFICE, 1130 12th Ave., Suite 300 Altoona, PA 16601
  • Tuesday, November 15, 2016 from 9 a.m. - noon at TEMPLE UNIVERSITY, Institute on Disabilities, 1755 N.13th St. Philadelphia, PA 19122
ACBP Calendar of Events
  • Blindness Awareness Exposition Tuesday June 2, 2015, from 9 a.m. -2 p.m.
Committee Members

Joseph B. Drenth, Chair

Joseph Drenth is a research and development software design engineer for the JBT Corporation. Joseph has managed and maintained large software projects and developed two generations of self-guided vehicle motion control systems. Prior to his time at JBT, Joseph worked as a cooperative work-study intern at the CIA.

Joseph is involved in blindness-related advocacy, awareness, and training. He also works with adaptive technology, braille transcription, and braille production. He is a graduate of Eastern College (B.A.) in Saint Davids, PA, where he maintained a 4.0 GPA.

Brenda Loughrey, Vice Chair

Rod Alcidonis

Rod Alcidonis is a solo attorney practitioner in the greater Philadelphia region. Rod represents clients in all legal matters pertaining to civil rights and personal injury law.

Rod is a longtime advocate on behalf of individuals with disabilities. He has given 25 speeches on disability rights throughout the country to organizations such as the National Association of Blind Students, the New York State Legislature, and the New York State Commission for the Blind. He has also worked as an assistive technology intern for the New York American Foundation for the Blind and has served on the Election Chair Committee for the National Association of Law Students with Disabilities. Rod is a graduate of Plattsburgh State University (B.A.) in Plattsburgh, NY, and of Roger Williams University School of Law (J.D.) in Bristol, Rhode Island.

Marianne E. Boltz

Marianne Boltz is a pediatric optometrist, low vision specialist, and assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. She was named the 2007 Pennsylvania Optometric Association (POA) Optometrist of the Year. Marianne has served on the POA Board since 2007 and completed her term as President of the association in 2014.

Marianne is a graduate of Lebanon Valley College (B.S.) in Annville, PA, and the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (M.D.) in Elkins Park, PA.

Arnold L. Bowser

Arnold Bowser is a retired director of vocational placement and teacher of visually impaired students. He spent 30 years of his career teaching various subject matters to high school students at the Maryland School for the Blind.

In 2001 Arnold was named to the Who’s Who in American Teachers list, and he is a lifetime member of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired. Arnold is a graduate of Indiana State Teachers College (B.S.) in Indiana, PA, and Loyola College (M. Ed.) in Baltimore, MD.

Joseph Strechay, BBVS Chair

Joe Strechay was named director of the Bureau of Blind and Visual Services (BBVS), November, 2015. As director, Joe is responsible for six district offices, a staff of 165, and a $30 million annual budget.

Joe has been legally blind since the age of 19, and brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm for assisting individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Prior to joining BBVS, Joe worked for the American Foundation for the Blind managing their nationwide employment-mentoring program Career Connect; connecting individuals who are interested in work and are blind or visually-impaired to mentors who are successfully employed. Joe also worked for the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and the Florida Department for the Blind overseeing transition/employment initiatives.

Carlton Anne Cook Walker

Carlton Anne Cook Walker is an attorney at her own practice in McConnellsburg, PA. There she provides legal services for clients including real estate, financial planning, and estate transactions. She also serves as Solicitor for Belfast, Thompson, and Todd Townships in Fulton County, PA.

In 2003, Carlton’s daughter was diagnosed with severe vision loss. Carlton has since worked to secure her daughter’s medical, educational, and social needs including teaching her braille and cane skills. Carlton is a graduate of North Carolina State University (B.S., B.A., & M.B.A.) in Raleigh, NC, and Wake Forest University School of Law (J.D.) in Winston-Salem, NC.

Donna Reinaker

ACBP Meeting Minutes