Meet the 2015 NFB of Virginia Leadership Fellows

Introducing our 7 outstanding Fellows:

Christopher Walker

Christopher is Outreach Chair for the Winchester Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia, and is responsible for increasing public awareness of the blind within the City of Winchester and Shenandoah Valley area. Mr. Walker works with the blind who are not able to attend monthly chapter meetings, keeping them up to date with the latest information. Mr. Walker is active on social media, interacting with blind people all around the world.

Prior to being appointed Outreach Chair, Christopher served in a variety of capacities for the following organizations: Huntington T. Block Insurance, Account Executive; American Physical Therapy Association, Meeting / Exhibits Coordinator; American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association, Government Affairs Assistant; Council for Exceptional Children, Meetings Coordinator.

Mr. Walker lost his sight in 2010 and has no-light-perception. He currently resides in the Winchester Virginia area with his spouse. As a NFB of Virginia Fellow, he plans to educate himself about different divisions and
committees within the NFB while strengthening his leadership skills.

Michael Valentino

Michael is married and the father of two wonderful children. Their home is in Mechanicsville outside of Richmond, Virginia.

He is a Multimedia Journalist, LIVE News Anchor, and DJ & on Air Personality who shows a passion for radio. He is legally Blind and a certified guide dog user. He has an extensive knowledge of music and pop culture. This includes over 23 years of experience in radio, strong social media skills, and a powerful presence for promotional efforts, seasoned production skills in both audio and video. Michael owns and operates Party Central Entertainment and Productions of Virginia, a mobile DJ service.

He spends time on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University where he is pursuing a master’s degree. He joined the Federation when he met other members at the General Assembly advocating for Braille to be taught to Blind children in Virginia. He is now an active member in the Richmond Chapter.

Michael was accepted as a Virginia Leadership Fellow for which he hopes to take more responsibility in the organization.

Brittany Savage

Brittany is currently the youth coordinator for the NFB Virginia state affiliate. She has the national certification of braille literacy and is studying to take the unified English Brail certification test. She is preparing for the Cain travel apprenticeship through Louisiana Tech. Her goal is to be dual certified in Braille and Cain travel to teach blind students. She has been a member of the national Federation of the blind for
10 years.

She has held a number of positions on our student board, and is looking forward to doing so much more. She has completed the independence training program at the Colorado Center for the blind this past year. She has also taught there for the high school program the past two summers. She taught home management as well as braille and residential skills. She is grateful for the opportunity to serve as a Virginia leadership Fellow.

Uricka Harrison

Uricka is 51 years old and the mother of 2 daughters. She lost
her sight at the age of 9 from having a tonsillectomy. Uricka attended
the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind at Hampton. Where she graduated in 1982. Later attended Thomas Nelson community college where she obtained an associate’s degree in Public administration in 1997. In 1996 joined the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia (Peninsula chapter where she is currently a member. Throughout the years she has served as Vice President
and on a few committees. Uricka Has also been to 4 National conventions
and several state conventions so far.

For several years, she worked at Insight Enterprises (Peninsula Center for Independent Living as an Independent Living Advocate. The duties she had
while working included: providing independent living, employment,
housing, advocacy and group counseling. During this time she participated in lobbying for the (ADA) Americans with Disabilities Act before the House of representative and the Senate. Also was a part of advocating at the general assembly for funding and needed programs. Currently she is volunteering in her community in various jobs and she sits on several boards and committees.

Stephanie DeLuca

Stephanie is currently the Science Policy Fellow at the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C. She has been living in Arlington, Virginia since August 2014 and serves as a Board Member of the NFB Potomac Chapter. Stephanie moved to Arlington from Nashville, Tennessee, where she completed her Ph.D. in Chemical and Physical Biology at Vanderbilt University. Prior to her graduate studies, she performed computational chemistry research as a Fulbright Student Scholarship recipient in the lab of Professor Dr. Peter R. Schreiner at the Justus-Liebig University in Giessen, Germany. Stephanie grew up in Killen, Alabama and attended college at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, or UAB, where she studied chemistry and first learned about NFB. She received a national scholarship in 2004 and attended her first NFB National Convention in Atlanta that year.

After a long hiatus, she joined the Tennessee affiliate during graduate school and was awarded her second national scholarship in 2013. During her time as a member of the NFB of Tennessee, Stephanie participated in Washington Seminar and served as the president of the Tennessee Association of Blind Students. Stephanie is excited to be a new member of the NFBV and to participate in the NFBV Leadership Fellows program. She is passionate about building partnerships, as well as increasing the NFB’s reach in advocacy, policy, and participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Stephanie and her husband, Sam, have a cat named Callisto, who is learning to be friends with Stephanie’s new Seeing Eye dog, Karra.

Deepa Goraya

Deepa has been a member of the NFB since 2005, graduating from the Louisiana Center for the Blind in December of the same year. Originally from California, Deepa was an active member and leader in the NFB of California, serving as Secretary and then President of the West Los Angeles Chapter, and as Secretary and then President of the California Association of Blind Students. She is both a California state and national NFB scholarship winner.

Deepa moved to the DC area after law school in 2013. She is an active member and Board Member of the Potomac Chapter, and serves on the Virginia Scholarship Committee. She has attended Washington Seminar several times over the past few years, and the Richmond Seminar once before. She has also participated in two national leadership seminars.

Deepa is a member of the California and DC bars, and graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 2012. She now works at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs as a Disability Rights Staff Attorney. She also serves on the American Bar Association’s Commission on Disability Rights, and as Board Member of the newly formed National Association of Attorneys with Disabilities. She also serves as Co-Chair of the ABA Young Lawyers Division Minorities in the Profession Committee, and was a 2012-2013 ABA Young Lawyers Division Minorities in the Profession Scholar.

Brian McCann

Brian was born in November of 1983 in Washington State, but he and his family moved back to Virginia Beach, VA shortly after he was born. He is the youngest of four siblings but has one younger stepsister. He has two older brothers and one older sister, all of whom are legally blind due to a hereditary eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). He and is siblings inherited the eye disease from their mother, who is also legally blind.

McCann became legally blind at the age of 27 and his vision is progressively getting worse. Although he knew he would have a vision problem, as a child he never felt limited in what he could do. His low vision means he sometimes has to work harder.

McCann attended public schools and was an average student. He graduated High School in 2002. McCann did not go to college right after he graduated because he was already a successful manager at a major retail store and did not think he would need a college education. After a few more years working in the retail business, he realized he had to find something else to do for a career. This was also during the same period he was starting to lose his vision. After doing some research on the internet, he discovered that there was an IRS training program at Lions World Services for the Blind in Little Rock, AR.

In November of 2007, he applied and was accepted into the IRS program. After graduating and earning the highest score in the IRS training program history, he was then sent to Holtsville, NY on Long Island to start his new career. He worked for the IRS as a Tax Examiner from August 2008 to August 2010 and resigned due to injuries suffered from being a passenger in an automobile accident. He was blessed though because he and his guide dog, Julie, were the only survivors out of seven people including the driver of his car.

From 2010 to 2012, McCann decided to take time off from work and to focus on getting his health back on track. Being restless and full of energy, he had to find something to do with his time. He has been actively involved with several different organization of the blind throughout his life, but the one organization that has inspired him the most is the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). He became very active with his local and state affiliate chapters of the NFB; serving as the First Vice President of his local chapter, state board rep, web designer and webmaster for the NFBV affiliate website, and several other committees on the local and state levels.

He has been in the contract and procurement field since 2012 working for the Department of Defense in Philadelphia, PA and Richmond, VA. McCann is currently a contract specialist/project manager for the City of Virginia Beach since March of 2015. He is also currently attending college full-time at Stray University and is majoring in Business Administration (BBA) with Acquisition and Contract Management as his concentration. A local community college has made him an Associated Professor on the topic of Small, Women and Minority Owned Businesses Understanding Government Contracts.

In 2014, McCann began to take on additional responsibilities within the NFB by serving as the Youth Track Coordinator and then as Chairman of the Events & Organization team for the Virginia state affiliate. Most recently, McCann was accepted into the NFBV Leadership Fellows program where other NFB leaders will mentor him to develop his own leadership path within the organization. He has already adopted several of the NFB’s philosophies and is eager to share with anyone that will listen.