The Durward K. McDaniel Fund Committee (DKM) annually selects two rising leaders, one from east and one from west of the Mississippi River, to attend the national conference and convention for the first time as guests of the committee and ACB.
2020 DKM First-Timers:
Merisa Musemic of Sterling Heights, Michigan is the 2020 DKM First-Timer from the East. She speaks four languages (Bosnian, Croatian, German and English). She is currently employed by Language Line Solutions, where she works as an interpreter for Bosnian language, which is her native language. She received a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Saginaw Valley State University thenentered Wayne State University where she acquired a Master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling. As a member of Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired, Merisa serves as chair of the resolutions committee, serves as secretary of the Mitten Phone Chapter and wants to learn more to serve better. She volunteers with Book Share as a proofreader and validates books to be added to the book share collection. Merisa has enjoyed working with the ACB Next Generation social Committee by assisting in planning social events.
Sara Freeman Smith of Houston, Texas is the 2020 DKM First-Timer from the West. She is currently self employed as a Contract Senior Recruiter and a state credentialed Employment Services Specialist /Job Coach. Her career spans over 25 years of Human Resources experience specializing in recruiting & staffing organizations. She has worked for major corporations such as BP, GE Oil & Gas, and First Data in HR leadership roles (Recruiting Manager/HR Director) while being fully sighted and with vision loss. She is President of U R Gems Group, Inc. a Career Coaching/Motivational speaking firm that specializes in assisting people with disabilities to fulfill their career goals. Sara is a honor graduate from the University of Southern California (BA Broadcast Management) and a Masters from University of Phoenix. In addition to her work, she actively serves in the Houston Council of the Blind as a board member and by planning and facilitating educational events. She is a board member for ACB of Texas and gladly advocates for the rights of people with disabilities. Sara is a Mayor appointed Commissioner on the Houston Commission on Disabilities and serves on the board of directors for several nonprofit organizations in the Houston area.
Recipients have met all qualifying criteria:
- Two qualifying recipients - one each from opposite sides of the Mississippi River - are selected annually provided at least one qualifying individual applies from each geographic region.
- Age 18 or older
- Blind or visually impaired
- Member in good standing (current on membership dues)
- Commitment to participation in designated ACB Conference and Convention programming.
The Durward K. McDaniel Fund Committee extends congratulations to Merisa Musemic and Sara Freeman Smith!
- Anthony Akamine of Hawaii
- Marja Byers of Oregon
- Todd Fahlstrom of Montana
- Zelda Gebhard of North Dakota
- Betsy Grenevitch of Georgia
- Cindy LaBon of Maryland
- Amanda Selm of Kentucky
- Sharon Strzalkowski of Massachusetts
- Frank Ventura of Massachusetts
- Kenneth Semien Sr. – Chair
- Staff Liaison – Kelly Gasque
- Officer Liaison – David Trott