President: Dr. Fredric K. Schroeder
Dr. Fredric Schroeder is the President of the World Blind Union (WBU). Dr. Schroeder is an internationally recognized leader in the blindness field. Representing the WBU, he has led the effort to establish an international standard requiring hybrid and electric vehicles to emit a minimum level of sound necessary for the safety of blind people and other pedestrians.
Additionally, he participated in the negotiations that led to the Marrakesh Treaty and was a member of the WBU delegation during the development of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Professionally, Dr. Schroeder is a research professor with the Interwork Institute at San Diego State University specializing in the area of leadership and public policy in Vocational Rehabilitation.
In 1994 President Bill Clinton appointed Dr. Schroeder to serve as the Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). The RSA Commissioner is a presidential appointment requiring Senate confirmation. As RSA Commissioner, Dr. Schroeder administered a $2.5 billion program annually providing services to more than 1 million people with disabilities.
Dr. Schroeder holds a Baccalaureate Degree in Psychology; a Master’s Degree in Special Education and in 1980 completed postgraduate work in Orientation and Mobility. Dr. Schroeder was the first blind person in the United States to be admitted to a university graduate program in orientation and mobility. Dr. Schroeder went on to earn a Ph.D. in Education Administration and Leadership from the University of New Mexico.
Contact: Dr. Fredric K. Schroeder, President
E-mail: president (@) wbu.ngo
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.
Contact: Mr. Fernando Riaño
E-mail: friano (@) ilunion.com
Second Vice-President: Ms. Donatilla Kanimba
Ms. Donatilla Kanimba is the Second Vice President effective September 2017. She replaced Dr. Elly Macha who passed away in March 2017. Ms. Kanimba is currently the Executive Director of the Rwanda Union of the Blind (RUB).
Having lost her sight at the age of five, Ms Kanimba attended a boarding school for students with visual disabilities in Thika, Kenya and later attended Nairobi University where she completed a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology.
She has been actively involved in the disability movement for over 30 years mostly in Kenya and Rwanda. She was also on the WBU Executive Committee as the Secretary General of African Union of the Blind (AFUB) from 2004 to 2008 and has served on various WBU committees.
As the Executive Director of the Rwanda Union of the Blind, Ms Kanimba was instrumental in pushing for the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in the country. Under her leadership, the Rwanda Union of the Blind also launched the Masaka Resource Centre for the Blind (MRCB), and RUB won 2014 Human Rights prize awarded by Leitner Centre on International law and justice.
Contact: Ms. Donatilla Kanimba
E-mail: donakanimba (@) gmail.com
Secretary General: Mr. Ajai Kumar Mittal (to September 22, 2020)
Acting Secretary General: Dr. Fredric K. Schroeder
Treasurer: Ms. Martine Abel-Williamson
Ms. Abel-Williamson of New Zealand, is the Treasurer for the World Blind Union since 2016. She has served on the WBU Asia-Pacific Board and Policy Council since 2007 where she maintained several roles; with the women’s committee, UNCRPD Network, UN Advocacy Co-ordination committee and as WBU Executive Member.
Ms. Abel-Williamson also led the Strategic Objective working group on Access to the Environment and Transport for four years, focusing on developing the WBU position statement on Shared Spaces, highlighting on issues on quiet vehicles, updating WBU’s policy on universal and barrier free design and collating information and recommendations on access to international travel.
As the current Asia-Pacific Regional UN Advocate, she provides advice on funding opportunities and has built strong relations with international organizations, philanthropic and charitable sectors.
Ms. Abel-Williamson was born in Namibia. Upon being diagnosed blind at the age of one, her family moved to South Africa for her to attend a school for the blind. She later immigrated to New Zealand in 1996. She has degrees in education and psychology and is qualified in the areas of vision rehabilitation and social policy.
Currently, Ms. Abel-Williamson is a Specialist Advisor at Auckland Council, New Zealand’s largest local government agency, where her role focusses on providing expertise on disability inclusion and accessibility, inclusive employment initiatives, among other responsibilities.
Ms. Abel-Williamson is also on the Board of Blind Citizens, a major blindness advocacy organisation in New Zealand. In addition, she holds the following roles; Chair of Auckland Disability Law, the only community law centre in New Zealand, specialising in disability law and access by disabled persons to the justice system and legal processes; Board member of Disability Connect, an organisation providing information and advice to parents of disabled children; Board member of Independent Living Services, an organisation that provides every day adaptive equipment to the disability sector; Consumer member of Health Quality and Safety Commission (HQSC) that provides advice on health and disability services to the New Zealand government; Consumer Advisory Service member of the Ministry of Health, providing advice in the areas of health and disability support to New Zealand government agencies and health care providers. She is also the Pacific delegate for the International Council on Education of Children with Vision Impairment (ICEVI).
Contact:Ms. Martine Abel-Williamson
E-mail: martine.the1 (@) xtra.co.nz
Immediate Past President: Mr. Arnt Johannes Holte
Mr. Arnt Holte from Norway was elected as President of the World Blind Union (WBU) at the 8th General Assembly in 2012 and held that position for a four year term. Prior to being elected WBU President, he served as 1st Vice President of WBU from 2008 to 2012. He will serve in his capacity of Immediate Past President until 2020.
Mr. Holte became active in Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted (NABP) in 1978. He was elected as the chair person for the youth organisation in Norway in 1980 and to the board of NABP in 1980. In 1983 he was employed in the administration department of the organisation and in 1986 he became the head of the information department, and in 1991 he worked as Marketing Director with responsibility for internal and external information and fundraising activities of NABP.
He became the CEO of Norwegian Rheumatism organisation from 1994 to 2000 and the CEO of the Norwegian Organisation for persons with Multiple Sclerosis from 2000 to November 2002. He moved on to Director of the international department in NABP for four years before becoming the Vice Executive Director of NABP from 2006 to 2016. He has served as Executive Director of NABP since January 2016.
Mr. Holte was the President of the umbrella organisation for people with disabilities in Norway from 2001 to 2005 and to date, he is the Vice President of the umbrella organisation for all volunteer organisations in Norway.
Mr. Holte also served as a member of two commissions working for the Norwegian Government; one reviewing the social security system for unemployed people and the other reviewing the system for support of technical aids for disabled people in Norway.
Contact: Arnt Holte
Email: arnt.holte (@) blindeforbundet.no
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