2020 Convention

National Federation of the Blind of Massachusetts, Inc. Sixty-Seventh Annual State Convention

February 21-23, 2020

Embassy Suites Hotel
207 Porter St.
Boston, MA 02128
Telephone: 617-567-5000

Hotel Reservations

Reservation Deadline: February 16, 2020

Student reservations will be handled by Amy Ruell.

Make your hotel reservations by going to: https://embassysuites.hilton.com/en/es/groups/personalized/B/BOSAPES-NF2-20200221/index.jhtml?WT.mc_id=POG.

Our group code is NF2.

Hotel reservations must be made by February 7, 2020.

Contact Information

National Federation of the Blind of Massachusetts
Email: aruell@comcast.net
Twitter: @NFBMA
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/National-Federation-of-the-Blind-of-Massachusetts-1593379944322253/
Telephone: 617-752-1116

National Federation of the Blind
200 East Wells Street
Baltimore, MD 2123
Telephone: 410-659-9314
Twitter: @NFB_Voice       

NFB of Massachusetts Constitutional Officers

  • President: Amy Ruell, Cambridge, MA
  • First Vice President: Shara Winton, Salem, MA
  • Second Vice President: Mika Pyyhkala, Boston, MA
  • Secretary: Georgie Sydnor, Boston, MA
  • Treasurer: Nora Nagle, Boston, MA

At Large Board Members

  • Basil Maurice, Springfield, MA
  • Karen Dupuis, Springfield MA
  • Barbara Lomax, Boston, MA
  • Mark Paquette, Springfield, MA       
  • Precious Perez, Chelsea, MA
  • David Ticchi, Cambridge, MA


Annual Auction

Auction to benefit scholarship fund. Numerous items including electronics, gift certificates, food gifts, and more! Will be held Friday night and Saturday during general sessions and the banquet. Auction items can be viewed on Saturday at the auction table, located near registration.  and. the highest bid placed at the auction table will be the opening bid when items are auctioned off.

Basket Raffle

In addition to auction items, we are featuring several theme baskets this year. Purchase as many tickets as you like for $1 each and place them in the bucket next to the basket you would like to win. Drawings for each basket will be held at the banquet.

Mystery Box

Would you like to try to win the gift in the mystery box? Buy some tickets and take a chance. The drawing will take place at the banquet and the gift is worth at least $75.00

Updates During Convention

We will update Twitter (http://twitter.com/nfbma) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/National-Federation-of-the-Blind-of-Massachusetts-1593379944322253/) throughout the weekend with announcements and logistical details. Please follow social media to receive the most current information before, during, and after convention! 

Convention Streaming

There is nothing like attending our convention in person and enjoying the festivities and opportunities to learn and collaborate with our Federation family.  However, if you can’t join us this year, You can listen on the TIC Network (https://ticnetwork.org/) during the Saturday general sessions. We are also attempting to make arrangements to stream the entire convention. Monitor our email lists and social media for updated information.


All registration will be held near the conference rooms. The convention registration package, including Friday night pizza dinner, Saturday lunch, and banquet tickets is $90.00. Register by February 7th to take advantage of the Early-bird package for $80.00. Registration for Saturday only including lunch and banquet is $65.00 until February 9, after which the fee will increase to $75.00. Registration for either Friday pizza dinner or for Saturday lunch is $35.00. Registration for a day pass without meals on Friday or Saturday is $20.00.

To register online, go to https://nfbma2020.eventbrite.com.

Registration will be open Friday from 3:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M. On Saturday registration will be open from 8:00 A.M. to 9:00 A.M.  Please ask for an NFB of Massachusetts representative if you arrive after these posted times. Everyone must register in order to be eligible for our convention room rates, to ensure that you receive your membership benefits, and to vote during affiliate elections. Also, registration will ensure that your name will be in the running for our door prizes awarded at the convention. You must be IN THE ROOM when your name is called to be eligible for door prizes. You must wear your attendee badge to gain entrance to meals and events (no exceptions).

Code of Conduct

We welcome all attendees to our convention and embrace diversity, inclusion, and mutual respect. To that end, please keep the following expectations in mind when you join us in Boston.

The National Federation of the Blind provides support to members and advocates for our rights to live the lives we want through advocacy, public awareness, and mentoring. As a member or guest at our convention, you not only represent yourself but also represent our organization. We want you to enjoy your time with us and to make new friends and renew old acquaintances. Although we encourage members to socialize and have fun, the convention also provides an important opportunity to come together to continue the work of our organization, to learn about the important initiatives that we are involved with on a local and national level, and to plan our work for the future.

Please remember these guidelines:

1. Welcome new attendees: Although you will undoubtedly enjoy time with your friends, please reach out to those who have never joined us before and help them to be comfortable. We welcome people from all walks of life and with diverse needs and experiences.

2. Attend and participate in sessions: NFBMA subsidizes your attendance at our convention. All of us work hard to raise the money that allows us to come together each year. It is expected that when you commit yourself to come to convention that you are also agreeing to attend sessions.

3. Sexual harassment will not be tolerated under any circumstances. If your behavior could possibly make anyone uncomfortable, even if you would not be upset by it yourself, do not do or say anything that could be considered inappropriate by anyone.

4. We understand that, for some, enjoying alcohol or marijuana is part of the fun at the convention. However, the associated behaviors that sometimes accompany these activities not only reflect badly on you but also do not enhance our standing as an organization.

5. Please do not wear heavy colognes or perfumes, as some of our guests have chemical sensitivities.

Convention Sessions

The Friday night exhibit hall will be held in the Central Square and Day Square rooms. Pizza gathering and get acquainted meeting activity will be held in the Mystic B room. Most of the Saturday convention program sessions and the banquet will be held in the Mystic B room.

Guide Dog Users

Please inquire at the registration table for information on the location of outdoor parking areas.

Ground Transportation

The Embassy Suites offers complimentary shuttle service to and from Logan Airport, the Logan Express bus, and the Airport MBTA station.

Hotel Restaurant Information

  • Complimentary Breakfast: 6:30 A.M. – 10:30 A.M.
  • Lunch: 11:00 A.M. – 2:00 P.M.
  • Dinner: 5:00 P.M. – 11:00 P.M.


There is an accessible ATM across from the hotel front desk.

Schedule of Events

FRIDAY, February 21, 2020

  • 3:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M. – Convention Registration
  • 4:00 P.M. - 7:00 P.M. – Exhibit Hall, Central Square and Day Square Rooms. Please pay attention to our website, email, and social media for a current list of exhibitors
  • 6:30 P.M. – Nominating Committee Meeting: Only appointed delegates may attend.
  • 7:00 P.M. – Pizza Gathering: Join with friends old and new to enjoy pizza, salad, and fellowship! Tables will be assigned to make sure that we have the chance to welcome new people, Mystic B Room
  • 7:30 P.M. – First Auction items: Mystic B Room
  • 7:35 P.M. – Get acquainted activity and possibly win a prize, tables compete: Mystic B Room
  • Exhibit Hall Drawing: Visit the Exhibit Hall and win!
  • Heads or Tails – Is your crystal ball accurate? Take your chance, purchase some strings and try to win 50 percent of the take! 
  • 8:30 P.M. – Student Meet and Greet: Central Square Room
  • 8:30 P.M. – Karaoke, Mystic B Room

SATURDAY, February 22, 2020

  • 7:30 A.M. – Scholarship Candidate and Committee Breakfast: (by invitation only) Meet at the registration desk
  • 8:00 A.M. - 9:00 A.M. – Registration


  • 9:00 A.M. – Opening Ceremonies: Invocation, Pledge of Allegiance, and NFB pledge, National Anthem, Masha Sten-Clanton
  • 9:05 A.M. – Announcements, Amy Ruell, NFBMA President
  • 9:15 A.M. – National Report: NFB National Representative, Ron Brown, National Board Member, National Federation of the Blind Second Vice-President and president, National Federation of the Blind of Indiana
  • 10:00 A.M. – Nominating Committee Report: John Oliveira, Nominating Committee Chair
  • 10:15 A.M. – Movement Break: Shara Winton
  • 10:30 A.M. – Perkins Library Update: James Gleason, Deputy Director, Perkins Library
  • 11:00 A.M. - Leadership Roundtable: Serving the Blind in the 21st Century, Representatives from Ma. Commission for The Blind, Mass. Association for The Blind and Visually Impaired, Carroll Center, National Braille Press, and Perkins School for The Blind
  • 11:55 A.M. – Announcements
  • 12:00 P.M. – Adjournment for lunch
  • 12:00 P.M. – Student Lunch and Business Meeting: Mystic B Room


  • 1:30 P.M. – Announcements
  • 1:35 P.M. – Senator Joan Lovely, Second Essex District
  • 2:30 P.M. - Legislative Update and Washington Seminar: Mika Pyyhkala, NFB Second Vice-President and Cambridge Chapter Treasurer
  • 2:45 P.M. – NFBMA Presidential Report: Amy Ruell, NFBMA President
  • 2:55 P.M. – Legal Update: Albert Elia, Attorney, TRE Legal Services
  • 3:10 P.M. – Breakout Session: Parenting Workshop: Join parents of blind children and blind parents to share experiences and strategies for building a division. Amy Ruell and Jean Brown. Maverick Square Room
  • 3:15 P.M. – NFB Newsline Update: Learn about the many updates and new ways to access NFB Newsline: Gina Russo, Outreach & Newsline Specialist, Perkins School For The Blind, Central Square Room
  • 3:15 P.M – Student Advocacy Strategies: Brainstorm with fellow students about ways to advocate for needed accommodations: Georgie Sydnor. Day Square Room
  • 4:00 P.M. – Meet with Jennifer Kennedy from BLIND Inc. Day Square Room
  • 4:00 P.M. - Meet with Al Elia from TRE Legal: Central Square Room
  • 4:00 P.M. - Demonstration of the Blind Shell phone: An accessible phone with buttons, Amy Ruell Maverick Square Room
  • 5:30 P.M. – Reception, Free Hors D’oeuvres and Cash Bar.


  • 7:00 P.M. – Sixty-Seventh Annual Banquet of the NFB of Massachusetts. Mystic B Room. Invocation: Master of Ceremonies: Amy Ruell, President, NFBMA.
  • 7:05 P.M. - 50-50-Raffle: Final sales to benefit NFBMA Scholarship Fund
  • 7:10 P.M. – Annual auction
  • Banquet Address: Ron Brown, NFB National Representative
  • Scholarship Presentations and Special Awards: Scholarship Committee

SUNDAY, February 24, 2019

  • Please check with Hotel Front Desk for local religious services.


  • 10:00 A.M. - Debate: Amy Ruell and Georgie Sydnor square off to debate an issue that impacts all of us. Mystic B room
  • 10:30 A.M. – NFBMA Business Meeting, Board Meeting, Elections: Mystic B Room
  • 10:30 A.M. – Invocation:
  • 10:35 A.M. – Treasurer’s Report: Nora Nagle, NFBMA Treasurer
  • 10:40 A.M. – Chapter Reports: Shara Winton, Cambridge Chapter, Basil Maurice, Greater Springfield Chapter
  • 10:50 A.M. – Vote on any proposed resolutions
  • 11:00 A.M. – Board Meeting, Board Elections: Mystic B Room.
  • 12:00 P.M. – Convention Adjournment.

Embassy Suites Hotel Information

The Embassy Suites Logan Airport consists of 10 floors. The first floor contains the front desk, Porter Bar and Grill, gift shop, meeting rooms, and an accessible ATM. Sleeping rooms are located on floors 2 through 10.

When entering the hotel, the front desk, gift shop, and ATM are to your right. The elevators are to your left. A large part of the first level contains the Jetliner Bar and Grill which serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night bar service.

Mystic Ballrooms are located on this level, as is a smaller hallway leading to the Central Square, Day Square, and Maverick Square meeting rooms.

Restrooms are located adjacent to the meeting room hallway.

Two elevators on one single side of a hallway serve sleeping room floors 2 through 10. When exiting on these floors, turn left to access sleeping rooms. Rooms 00-18 are to your right and rooms above 18 are to your left. Each side of the hallway has even and odd numbered rooms respectively.

When exiting the elevator on the first level, turn left to access the pool and fitness area and turn right to go to the front desk, restaurant, and meeting rooms.

Each room is a suite. The thermostat is in the bedroom. It has 3 buttons from left to right which are power, fan, and display. There are also 3 arrow keys. From bottom to top, they are lower temperature, a small button that toggles the display between Fahrenheit and Celsius and raise temperature.

Coffeemakers in the rooms have 2 switches, one cup or two cups. One cup is located on the left and two cups is on the right.  Add water in back for number of cups required and coffee pods in pull-out tray in the front.  Regular coffee, decaf coffee, and tea will be at the top (highest) position in a nearby box containing coffee and tea.  Cream and sugar are in the middle level of the box, and lids for coffee cups in the bottom level. 

The Embassy Suites provides shampoo, conditioner, and lotion. Bottles will generally be in this order from left to right in each bathroom.

A telephone on the desk in the living room has 2 rows of 5 buttons each which connect guests to various hotel departments and services. Details on phone operation will be posted in the electronic agenda and via @NFBMA twitter feed. The telephone in the bedroom has fewer options and controls.

Each bedroom also contains an alarm clock. There are 4 smaller buttons on top which left to right are alarm on/off, alarm set, -, and +.  To set the alarm press alarm set, use the +/- buttons to set the time, and hit alarm set again.  Under these four buttons is a larger button which is the snooze/dimmer button.  

Gift Shop

There is a gift shop operated by the hotel which is open 24 hours a day.

Our Thanks

Thanks to our board, chapters and members for generously donating auction items, theme baskets, and door prizes, making our auction a success.

Thanks to all who appeared on the agenda, who served on committees and worked in registration.

Thanks to Georgie Sydnor and Margaret O’Donnell for their great job with the door prizes.

A very special thank you to Frank Pasquarello and Jim Anliot, whose help this weekend has been invaluable.

We wish to thank Ron Brown for his contributions as National Representative. The national perspective you brought to us is so important to our achievement of equality, security and opportunity.

Thanks to the management and staff of the hotel for all the help and assistance in planning this weekend and making our stay enjoyable.

Last, but certainly not least, we wish to thank the individuals who have sponsored and/or contributed their time to our convention. It is vitally important that we continue to receive your support. Your interest helps us to progress and achieve first class citizenship for all blind people.

NFB Pledge

I pledge to participate actively in the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind, to achieve Equality, Opportunity and Security for the blind, to support the policies and programs of the Federation and to abide by its constitution.