Our Board Members are successful professionals, some of whom are visually impaired themselves. They are caring mentors, teachers and other community professionals who work together to support Club members and their families as they navigate the important transition from dependency to independence as a young adult and beyond. Our volunteers also strive to educate the public about vision loss and to share their direct experiences and knowledge of resources.
Meet the volunteer board
Founder and President
Sue grew up in Illinois and attended Illinois State University where she obtained her K-12 teaching degree. She has worked in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Tennessee as an executive administrator in the YMCA. She has been a National trainer regarding disability and other program services. Sue lost her eyesight in her mid-thirties, but continued to work as an administrator and volunteer in many capacities. She has served on a number of Boards and Task Force Committees regarding disability services and in 2008, she founded Club VIBES, Visually Impaired/Blind Enhanced Services in Knoxville. Sue continues to be extremely active in many leadership roles in Blind organizations locally and nationally. Personally, Sue always strives to outdo herself physically by participating in triathlons and long ultra-cycle rides and races. She hopes through Club VIBES to give other visually impaired people the chance to be active through participation in sports.
Family Advisor and Mentor
Although legally blind from birth, John Buckley was educated in the public schools of Wichita, Kansas. After receiving his M.A. and PhD. in Communication Studies from Northwestern University, he taught at both UCLA and the University of Tennessee. He has served for many years as an officer of the National Association of Blind Teachers and as a board member of the Disability Resource Center in Knoxville and the Tennessee Unit of Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic. He is also a volunteer mediator for the Community Mediation Center. Because of being raised as a legally blind child himself, he has focused on working with Club VIBES parents.
Kathy is employed with the University of Tennessee Alumni Affairs Telefund. She enjoys walking and being outside. She is the parent of visually impaired child, Sarah, who graduated from The University of Tennessee in May 2014. Sarah is currently pursuing her dream to become an orthopedic doctor. Sarah, Kathy and her husband David are all active members of Club VIBES.
Cassie grew up in Georgia and received a BS from the University of Georgia. She volunteered for 1 month at a school for the blind in Trujillo, Peru which began her interest in low vision services. In 2009 she moved to Knoxville for a job at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and began volunteering with club VIBES. She then moved to Philadelphia, PA to attend optometry school. Cassie now works as a doctor of optometry at Blount County Eye Center and continues to volunteer with Club VIBES as Treasurer.
Patti Anderson retired from AT&T after 44 years of service. She has two adult daughters and one daughter is vision impaired with optic nerve atrophy. She had a stroke in utero that resulted in cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Patti spent a lot of time learning and being involved with school and support services for children with disabilities. She continues to be involved through her service as a board member for Club VIBES.
Arlene Hernandez was born and raised in Southern California where she received her BA from the University of California, Irvine, continuing on to California State University, Los Angeles for dual certifications in Teacher of Visually Impaired and Elementary Education. Arlene and her husband relocated to Tennessee in 1972 to escape the smog and traffic of Southern California. In addition to raising 3 children, Arlene taught in Knoxville as a Teacher of Visually Impaired for 27 years before following her husband on a 10 year adventure while he served as a Country Director of Peace Corps in South America and Africa. During this time Arlene taught at American International Schools as a Resource Teacher. Arlene is now retired and always very busy keeping up with the children and 4 grandchildren all living out of state, tutoring GED students, traveling, enjoying biking and hiking in beautiful East Tennessee and serving on the Club VIBES Board.
Angie Irick is a Knoxville native and a married working mother of three. Her parenting experience began in 1990 when twin boys were born at 26 weeks gestation. Prematurity captured the life of one twin at 13 weeks and caused retinopathy of prematurity and intellectual disabilities for her oldest son. Angie worked hard to educate herself about vision loss and the need for parent advocacy. She successfully helped her son navigate through 18 years of public education and the transition into adulthood. Angie served on the Tennessee Infant Services Parent Board for several years and is now serving on the Club VIBES Board.
Sarah is a dynamic young VIBES member who has low vision due to retinopathy of prematurity. She has been a chartered Club VIBES board member since 2008 and also has served as a mentor to other young visually impaired members. Club VIBES has made a huge impact on her life because it has challenged her to try new things (like tandem biking and rock climbing). The VIBES Board has allowed her to connect with others who have helped her throughout her college education and to further her career goals. She graduated from the University of Tennessee in May 2014 with a Bachelor’s of Science in microbiology. She is currently working on getting into a Physician Assistant program.
Valerie Kuentz is a teacher of Preschool and a mother of a teen-age daughter. After suddenly developing a rare neurological condition that seriously restricted her vision, she became involved with Club VIBES. An is an active member of the Club’s tandem cycling program. She once again is able to enjoy biking as she did before.
A native of New Jersey, Patty McDonough attended graduate school at the University of Tennessee. After receiving her master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, she worked with a variety of special needs groups and has been a teacher of the visually impaired for the last eleven years and a member of the VIBES Board since March 2013.
Katee Nall is a sophomore at the University of Tennessee studying to be a speech pathologist. She plans to enter a master’s program and work in a hospital setting in pediatrics. She has served for two years as her sorority’s representative to the VIBES Board and is actively involved in several organizations on campus that help support people with disabilities.
Joseph Tibbetts has been a member of Club VIBES for nearly two years and currently serves on its board as the student representative. He will enroll in Johnson University in the fall of 2015, planning to major in business or nonprofit management. He currently works at the University. In addition, Joe has been in several musical performances and enjoys activities such as biking, singing, and participating in church and mission events.
Jody is a graduate of Florida State University and holds a degree in Visual Disabilities with a specialty in Orientation & Mobility. She is dual certified as both a Teacher for the Visually Impaired and an Orientation & Mobility Specialist. With over 40 years of experience, she has worked with a vast population of visually impaired individual’s, from birth to the geriatric in age. Her teaching experiences covered several states and include Rehabilitation Centers, UAB School of Optometry Low Vision Clinic, UAB Education Department, UAB Eye Foundation Hospital, South Carolina School for the Deaf & Blind, and many school systems. Currently, she is working with Knox County School System as an O&M Specialist and Vision Teacher and is lovingly known by her students as “Wacky Mackay.”