During the 10th WBU General Assembly, the new WBU leadership was elected on the 23rd of June 2021. This page is currently being updated.
President: Mrs. Martine Abel-Williamson
Ms. Martine Abel-Williamson of New Zealand, is employed as a Senior Human Rights Advisor for the New Zealand Human Rights Commission. She’s on the boards of the Accessible Books Consortium, Royal NZ Foundation of the Blind and Blind Citizens NZ. She also holds pan-disability roles as a board member of Disability Connect, a pan-disability service provider in NZ. Martine is totally blind and is usually accompanied by her guide dog. She lives in Auckland NZ.
Phone: +64 21 411 042
Email: president @ wbu.ngo and martine.the1 @ xtra.co.nz;
Address: 68 Meadway, Sunnyhills, Auckland 2010, NZ
First Vice-President: Mr. Fernando Riaño
Mr. Fernando Riaño is the First Vice President of the WBU since August 2016. He is a lawyer and an expert on legal advisory services, consulting, training and financial sector acquired from Harvard University, Global Civil Society, John F. Kennedy School.
Mr. Riaño has a broad experience in businesses, especially at international level, dealing with the implementation of corporate responsibility, universal access, and disability policies for the promotion of employment of people with disabilities. He has low vision but he is a firm and strong advocate for the promotion of Braille worldwide.
A member of ONCE Foundation in Spain, Mr Riaño has Master’s degree in Business Administration. He is currently the Corporate Director of CSR, Communications and Corporate Affairs for the ONCE Foundation, and the ONCE’s Group of Companies, ILUNION, which comprises 500 working Centres, with more than 36,000 employees, many of them with disabilities. The company is also offering more than 50 lines of business under the Design for All concept and the promotion of employment opportunities for blind people.
Mr Riaño has over 10 years’ experience with the ONCE blind association movement and a leader of projects dealing with disability and corporate responsibility. In 2006, he joined the Human Resources Department of Barclays Bank Western Europe, and in that same year, he took charge of Barclays Foundation’s Corporate Responsibility Area. He regularly contributes to various specialised publications and lectures at Universities and Business Schools in Spain. He is also the author of a wide range of articles in both English and Spanish. He is fluent in French as well.
In November 2012 Fernando was awarded the “Young Director Talent” prize by the Prince of Girona Foundation, and Seelinger y Conde, becoming the first person with a disability to receive this Prize. He is also Worldwide Associate at the Employer´s Forum on Disability. In addition, he was three times Triathlon World Champion for people with disabilities.
Also he has an MBA (Master in Business Administration). In 2016, he was nominated as Top Ten “Economic Leaders for Tomorrow ranking” by Choiseul Institute.
E-mail: friano @ ilunion.com
Second Vice-President: Mr. Yaw Ofori Debra
Yaw Ofori-Debra is of Ghanaian nationality and Blind from childhood. He pursued his academic and professional training at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana. After graduation, Ofori-Debra worked with Ghana Education Service in the Supervisory Directory as a Guidance and Counseling Coordinator in a Municipality. His responsibility was to train Teachers to help Students overcome psycho-emotional traumas to maximize learning outcomes. In addition to his professional work, he has been a member of Municipal Assembly within his locality and Chair the Committee on Social services. Yaw Ofori-Debra is a leading Disability Activist in Ghana and Africa. He has presided over influential Disability Organisations such as Ghana Blind Union, African Union of the Blind, Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations and National Council on PWDs. Achievements include advocating the passage of Disability Act in 2006, institution of National Disability Day as a mechanism of raising awareness and assessing the impact of the law on the lives of PWDs securing monthly payment of disability allowances for Public Sector Workers with Disabilities and promotion of Blindness sports among others. He was honored with the Martin Luther King Award for Peace and Social Justice in March, 2018 in recognition of his commitment and dedicated service to the cause of disability activism. He is Fluent in both English and French.
Ghana Blind Union
E-mail: yawdebra2015 @ gmail.com
General Secretary: Mrs. Diana Stentoft
Dr Diana Stentoft is Vice President of the Danish Association of the Blind where she is overseeing the organisation’s international affairs, rehabilitation programme and education and employment initiatives. She has extensive international experience from her work within the Danish Association of the Blind as well as from her previous academic career. From 2016 – 2021 she served as member of the WBU Development Committee. She has a particular interest in promoting human rights and equal opportunities for all through the use of CRPD processes and implementation of the SDGs. Within the Danish Association of the Blind Diana has held numerous positions among others that of chair of the Organizational Committee and member of the national board. She has been Danish delegate to WBU and EBU since 2004. Before joining the leadership of Danish Association of the Blind Diana worked for many years as associate professor and head of a research centre within health science education at Aalborg University, Denmark. She has a doctorate within the field of higher education and a Master degree in English and international relations. She has published numerous papers and books within the field of education and has extensive experience as a teacher and speaker.
Privately Diana is married and mother of two teenage sons.
Danish Association of the Blind (DAB)
Phone: +45 40 11 11 67
E-mail: diana.stentoft @ blind.dk
Trésorière: Mrs. Diane Bergeron
Diane Bergeron breaks down barriers for people who are blind or partially sighted. As President of CNIB Guide Dogs and Vice-President of International Affairs for CNIB, she is actively engaged in national, regional and international work that will allow more individuals to fully participate in the lifestyle they choose. Diane has a passion in various industries such as local, national and international travel, accessible voting, and the right to financial independence. Diane is a champion of the rights for all individuals to fully engage in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport.
Challenging stereotypes is her way of life. It is how she shares ideas and opens conversations while demonstrating that nothing is impossible if the will and support is there to try. As a woman with a disability, she has experienced her share of discrimination. Always one to use a challenge as motivation, these experiences re-ignite a passion within her: a passion for ensuring that all people are recognized for what they can do and not limited by others’ perceptions. As a guide dog handler, Diane exemplifies confidence and independence in travel while also advocating for stronger penalties and enforcement of rules relating to discrimination. Her personal experiences and approach clearly demonstrate that her current position of President CNIB Guide Dog Program is an ideal fit.
101, 1355 Bank street
Phone: +1 613 852 1416
E-mail: diane.bergeron @ cnib.ca
Immediate Past President:
Ex Officio Chief Executive Officer: Mr. José Viera
Mr. José Viera is the WBU’s second Chief Executive Officer of the WBU, following the retirement of former CEO Dr. Penny Hartin in May 2018. He was the WBU Human Rights Policy Advisor before his appointment to the CEO position. Mr. Viera has a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and a Masters degree in Management of Development from Torino University, Italy. Prior to joining the WBU, he worked as Latin America Coordinator for Disability Rights Promotion International and did consulting work for the UNCRPD Committee Secretariat. For the past ten years he has also worked part-time as Associate Professor of the International Relations Department at the Siglo 21 University, in Cordoba Argentina.
Mr. Viera has also been very active within the WBU as President of the National Federation of the Blind in Argentina and as a past member of the Executive in ULAC. Since joining the WBU, he has been working very closely with our members around the world to familiarize them with UN instruments and assist them with country reporting for the UN. He is fluent in English, Spanish and French.
Contact: Mr. Jose Viera
Email: jose.viera @ wbu.ngo