Our Mission

Friends of the Maryland Library for the Blind and Print Disabled (Friends) is a (501)(c)(3) charitable organization established in 1988. As volunteers, we strive to serve our library well. Through our fundraising efforts, we enhance library programs and services beyond what is possible through traditional state and federal funding.

The Friends Board and Volunteers:

  • Encourage patrons to enjoy their library
  • Identify community needs
  • Suggest innovative solutions
  • Plan our annual meeting for patrons, volunteers and friends
  • Host a library staff appreciation day
  • Promote upcoming events
  • Raise funds to support special library initiatives
  • Collaborate with individuals, community groups, disability advocates, educators, and private and public sector partners

Meet the Board of Directors

To improve our library, the Friends Board meets quarterly with LBPD leadership.

Join us for our annual meeting and enjoy fellowship with library staff, volunteers, patrons, friends and families.

If you or someone you know is interested in advancing our mission by volunteering to serve on the Friends board, contact our president, Sharon Maneki, at skmaneki@gmail.com.

2024 Board of Directors

The Friends organization is governed by a volunteer board whose backgrounds vary across industry and occupation, but all share a strong interest in supporting the mission of Friends and the library.

Board members are selected by nomination and typically serve for at least two years. Members frequently extend their term of service for several years or for the duration of specific projects.

Sharon Maneki

Sharon Maneki has been a member of the Board of Directors of Friends since the early 1990s. After serving as Vice-President of Friends for many years, she became President in the Fall of 2014. As a library patron, Sharon has a great interest in expanding its programs. Sharon has been an advocate for the blind for more than 30 years.

As a leader in the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, she helped to advocate for a new and improved building for the library. Sharon was a Research Analyst with the Department of Defense for 27 years, and lives in Columbia, Maryland.

Barbara Cheadle

The parent of a blind son, Barbara Cheadle presided over the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children from 1985 to 2008. She was the founding editor of Future Reflections, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) magazine for parents and teachers of blind children, which she edited for over 25 years.

After stepping down from that position, she launched a second career as a reference librarian at Bowie State University. A tireless Braille literacy advocate, Barbara is a charter member of the Friends board with many years of uninterrupted service. Barbara and her husband, John, live in Catonsville, Maryland.

Elizabeth Cooper

Liz is a retired St. Mary’s County Public Schools Reading Supervisor with a BS-Nursing and Masters Reading Ed. degrees. She is currently a full-time author.

Liz’s experiences as a delivery room RN, educator, educational toy store owner, and patented inventor, has provided Liz lots of material and ideas for children’s stories.

Three of her books are about children with disabilities. Liz was elected to the Board of Friends in 2022.

When not writing, she likes to kayak on the Potomac River, quilts, and makes stain glass. Liz lives in St. Mary’s County with her husband, Dave.

Mike Davis

Jill Lewis served as the Director of the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Print Disabled from October 2003 until
her retirement in May 2012. Previously she was the Acting Director and Collection Management Librarian at the library.
Jill served as a Reference Librarian at the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, The Library
of Congress where she conducted a study of educational reading services for individuals with print disabilities and
prepared publications for the Reference Section. She was a Reference Librarian at The University of Alabama, where she
coordinated library services for users with disabilities and provided general reference service in the humanities, social
sciences, and government documents. Jill was an Adjunct Instructor in the School of Library and Information Studies,
The University of Alabama, where she taught the introductory reference class.

Jill holds the M.L.I.S. degree from the School of Library and Information Studies, The University of Alabama, and the
A.B. degree in literature and classics from Sarah Lawrence College. She was a member and chair of the Montgomery
County Maryland Library Board and currently serves on the library system’s Accessibility Advisory Committee.

Dr. Jinjuan Feng (Heidi)

Dr. Jinjuan Heidi Feng is a professor in the Computer and Information Sciences Department and the director of the School of Emerging Technologies at Towson University. She received a Ph. D. in Information Sciences from UMBC in 2005. She conducts research in the area of Human-Computer Interaction, universal accessibility, Health-informatics, and usable and accessible Security. She works closely with national and local communities to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities through information technology. Her current research projects focus on assistive technologies for people with cognitive disabilities in educational and professional settings, mobile applications for health related activities, and accessible security techniques for individuals with visual or cognitive disabilities.

Her research has been funded by various national and state agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), and TEDCO. Her work has been published in various top-notch journals and conferences such as Human-Computer Interaction, ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, and ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing. She is serving on the editorial board of ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing and is the general conference chair for the 18th ACM SIGACCESS International Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS 2016).

Robyn Hughes

Robyn Hughes was elected to the Board of Directors in October 2014. Robyn has an M.A. in German Jewish History, and a B.A. in Jewish studies. She has been a patron of LBPH since she was a pre-school student. As a Braille expert, Robyn knows many specialized codes such as the American Hebrew Braille code.

Robyn is a docent at the Jewish Museum of Maryland and has been a strong voice for advocating that museum programs be accessible to people who read Braille.

Dr. Jonathan Lazar

Dr. Jonathan Lazar is a professor in the College of Information Studies (iSchool) at the University of Maryland where he is the incoming director of the Trace Research and Development Center, the nation’s oldest research center on technology and disability. Dr. Lazar has authored or edited 13 books on human-computer interaction, digital accessibility, and law and policy. He is the recipient of the 2020 ACM SIGACCESS Award for Outstanding Contributions to Computing and Accessibility.

Melissa Riccobono

Melissa Ricccobono was elected to the Board of Directors in the fall of 2014. She has a M.A. in Counseling Psychology, and a B.A. in Psychology. She earned both degrees from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Melissa moved to Maryland in 2004. She is an avid advocate for LBPH because two of her three children are visually impaired and will use the services. She and her husband are also patrons of the library.

Melissa has been a leader in the National Federation of the Blind for many years. She currently serves as President of the Maryland Parents of Blind Children division.

Ellen Ringlein

Ellen Ringlein

Eileen Rivera Ley

Eileen Rivera Ley, MBA, is a disability advocate, diabetes design advisor, and executive leadership trainer. Her company, Blind Savvy USA, provides consulting and training services. She trains people with disabilities. She collaborates with Sky’s the Limit communications and with The International School of Protocol to create unique soft-skills leadership workshops for young adults. Legally blind since birth, she earned an MBA from the Wharton School of Business, and a BA from Harvard College. She was honored as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women in 2011, and her company was selected as one of Maryland’s Top 100 minority business enterprises in 2013. She is a board member of the Maryland State Boychoir, the National Federation of the Blind TLC Chapter and Friends of Maryland Library for the Blind and Print Disabled.

Janet Sanford

Janet Sanford joined the Friends Board in October 2013. A native of South Jersey, she has lived in Maryland for the past 30 years. Since her retirement from the Baltimore County Public Library system, she works part time for the county library as well as helping out on the Reference Desk at LBPH. She is a former reader for the Baltimore Radio Reading Service and has been a volunteer at radio station WYPR.

In her spare time she enjoys reading, gardening, needlework, traveling, listening to music, watching Orioles baseball and marveling at smart technology. We are pleased to have Janet manage the Friends Facebook page.

Betsy Saunders

Betsy has been a member of Friends since 1996. She was introduced to the organization by one of its founders, Estelle Williamson. In addition to serving on the Friend’s board, Betsy also volunteered her time at LBPH by helping out at the Information desk.

Although Betsy grew up on Long Island, she made her home and career in Maryland. She is a retired librarian from the Baltimore County Public Library where she served 15 years as an Information librarian. Betsy is the mother of three children and the grandmother of five, all of which keep her busy in retirement.


Monica Turner

An experienced administrator and educator, Monica Turner has led Bowie State University’s TRiO Achiever’s program since 2002. During her time as a Director, she has developed a number of learner-centered initiatives, including the Summer Experience, an integrated pre-college summer program; Scholars Studio, a problem-based learning community; and the Faculty Think Tank, an interdisciplinary faculty learning community. She has taught the Psychology of Learning and Freshman Seminar and continues to use her experience as a leader and educator to help students and colleagues realize their potential.

Monica has written several grant proposals that have brought more than four million dollars to the University. She holds a Master’s degree in School Psychology from the University of Maryland–College Park and a Bachelor’s degree in History/Politics from Drexel University.

Dezman Jackson

Dezman Jackson was elected to the Friends Board of Directors at the Annual Meeting in October 2020.

He is an experienced Accessibility Support Engineer and has worked for such companies as TPG Interactive. As a person with national orientation mobility certification, Dezman taught orientation and mobility for many years. He still enjoys helping people travel in the community so that they may fully participate in life activities. Dezman is a library patron who enjoys reading and promoting library programs.

Dezman hails from Mobile, Alabama. He has lived in Baltimore for over 10 years.

Gary Hawbaker

Gary grew up in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. As an adult, he was an Eagle Scout and served as the BSA board chairman for his district. He served in the US Air Force, concentrating on aviation repair. Gary now concentrates on several of his businesses and raises Cavelier King Charles Spaniels. Gary wants everyone to know that he is especially proud to join the board because he has a significant print disorder and would like to advocate for others.