Board of Directors Biographies

President: Amy Ruell, Hingham

I am the current president of the National Federation of the Blind. I am a product of a public school education and obtained my Bachelor of Arts and my Master of Science degrees from Smith College and Simmons College School of Social Work respectively.
I have worked as a psychiatric clinician and supervisor specializing in trauma treatment for many years and currently authorize psychiatric emergency admission for several companies. In addition, I work for Baum USA, a company that produces and sells braille displays and screen magnification products. I also am an access technology trainer and consultant and have my certification from the Access Technology Institute.

I have been active in advocacy efforts to benefit the blind for many years. I am the immediate past president of VIBUG, the oldest group  of blind computer users in the country. I currently serve on the Braille Literacy Advisory Council for Massachusetts, am a member of the advisory board for the Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library, and have recently been appointed to the Attorney General's task force on disability. I worked for 7 years as the program manager for a literacy program at National Braille Press. I have also served on the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Council, the board of directors for People Making a Difference, and the WGBH advisory board in the past. I also work as a beta tester for several products and have participated in multiple efforts to improve the accessibility of multiple websites and products.

I am married to a wonderful and supportive husband and am the proud mother of two grown children. My hobbies include reading, spectator sports, attending live theater productions, music, and travel.

First Vice-President: James Daley, Brockton

Born 1955, grew up in Boston Massachusetts graduated from Copley Square high school in 1973. I worked as a retail clerk for Bradley's department stores, for State Street Bank stores as a machine operator until 1990. 
My family and I bought a house in Brockton in 1985.  I raised my daughter as a single parent for much of her life. I became involved in the NFB, church, the schools and politics all as a volunteer. I ran for school committee and was selected subsequently serving for eight years.

I served the NFBMA Brockton chapter as a board member, treasure, vice president and president. I currently serve NFBMA as a Board member and first vice president, chair the convention committee, and serve on the scholarship committee.

Second Vice-President: Mika Pyyhkala, Boston
Secretary: Lindsay Yazzolino, Boston
Treasurer: John Smith, Quincy

I was elected NFBMA Treasurer in 2013.

In 2012, I retired, after 33 years, from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Volpe Center in Cambridge, where I served as an operations Research Analyst.  Collateral duties at the Center included managing the Disability Awareness Program from 2004 to my retirement.

I received a M.S. in Computer Information Systems, from Boston University, in 1987
And a B.S. in Mathematics and Management, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in 1976

Interests include: Martial arts, exploring my environment, reading, and being a playmate for a retired guide dog.

Board Members:
Jeanette Kutash, Quincy

I was born in Connecticut and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communication and a Master’s Degree in Counselling.  After graduation I worked as a medical transcriptionist. In 1983 I made the decision to move to Massachusetts as the opportunities for this career continued to offer me advancement options not available in Connecticut.  Owing to changes in the field in 2003 I explored and pursued my second career opportunity in the field of hospitality.  After working at the Ritz Carlton for 4 and a half years I retired.  My current interests include walking, reading, knitting, and spending time with my closest friends.

Basil Maurice, Springfield
Michelle Mitchell, Waltham

I  first joined the NFB in  2009 in Rhode Island, where I was a founding member and secretary of the Mount Hope Chapter. I served on the RI affiliate board until my husband and I relocated  to Waltham, MA, three years ago, when I joined the Cambridge chapter of the NFBMA. I still maintain close ties with my NFBRI family, and This summer, I am pleased and proud to be volunteering  at RI's first NFB Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) Program, a 2-week summer camp developed by the NFB to teach Braille and independence skills to blind children.  In addition to serving on my state affiliate boards, I was also a founding member and board member of the new Community Service Division of the NFB.

I attended California State University at Long Beach  and earned a BA in Speech Communication, became certified to teach English as a foreign language, and completed graduate coursework in linguistics.  I worked at the university throughout  my years at CSULB, mostly tutoring or teaching writing and English or training tutors and student teachers.  I have also sold Tupperware , but my true love is education.  This Fall plan to apply to the Master's Program in vision Studies at UMass Boston to become a Teacher of the Visually Impaired. 
 I enjoy living in the dynamic Boston area and look forward to actively serving my chapter and affiliate in the years to come

Mark Paquette, Ludlow

Mark Paquette has extensive experience as an IT consultant and systems' engineer,  and has worked for a number of businesses and organizations providing consultation, training, and hardware and software support. He has also been an audio engineer for his local radio reading service.  He received his A.S. degree in Computer Science Information Security and Assurance from Holyoke Community College in May 2011 and also has certifications in Windows NT for CFSE and audio engineering.
Mark is a board member at large of NFBMA and is also the Vice-President 
of the Springfield chapter. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus in his community and assists as a volunteer at a summer camp for blind children in the summer.

Precious Perez, Chelsea

I was born January 20, 1998, and I  live in Chelsea, Massachusetts. I am originally from Puerto Rico.    I am a Honors student at Chelsea High, am on the NFBMA board as well as MASSABS president.  I am a singer/songwriter, and  I also play on the Boston ViStars Goalball team. I plan to major in music and english and minor in Spanish in college. 

David Ticchi, Cambridge

A lifelong calling to promote education and understanding characterizes all of David Ticchi’s professional endeavors. A faculty member at Newton North High School, he has taught English and supervises a School-to-Career program, working closely with students to prepare them for real-world options. Concurrent with his role as a teacher, David serves as Special Assistant to the President at the Legal Sea Foods Corporation acting as co-chair of an ethics program and facilitating internal training and communication projects. Before taking on these current challenges, David filled an executive position for over 10 years at Xerox Imaging Systems (XIS), a Xerox subsidiary.

Legally blind since birth, David graduated from the College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, MA), receiving his B.A. in economics cum laude. After spending a year with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, he returned to Boston to earn a Masters degree and a Doctorate degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

One of his proudest moments occurred in 1998 when David was named “National Blind Educator of the Year” by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). In 1996, David was chosen a Community Hero by the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and carried the Olympic Flame in the Olympic Torch Relay.

He currently serves as Treasurer of the Cambridge Chapter of the NFB.

Basil Maurice

Born in Heidelberg West Germany on December 28, 1964, I came to the United States with my parents in March of 1965. We eventually settled in the town of Ludlow. I attended the Ludlow public school system and graduated from the Ludlow High School in June of 1982. I received a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice in May of 1986 from Westfield State College. I received a Certificate in Advanced Paralegal Studies from Our Lady of the Elms College in 1990. I have worked as a peer advocate for the Stavros Center for Independent Living since 1998.

In mid Spring of 1969, I lost a substantial portion; about 97%; of my vision due to a medical condition known as hydrocephalous, (water on the brain), which destroyed my optic nerve. I came to the National Federation of the Blind in 1987. Over the years, I have served as Springfield chapter president, chapter treasurer, board member, Treasurer of the Springfield chapter, and as a member of the state board.

In addition to my work with NFB, I am a member of the Lodge of the Loyal Order of the Moose and hold a "General" class Amateur radio operator's license. I serve the City of Springfield as a member of the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services unit, the Amateur Radio Emergency Services unit, and the local emergency planning committee.