CNIB - CNIB Thanks Jim Sanders for 46 Years of Dedication to People with Vision Loss


Al Jameson presenting former President and CEO Jim Sanders with a gift
CNIB National Board of Directors Chair Al Jameson presents former President and CEO Jim Sanders with a gift


In March 2009, CNIB bid farewell to Jim Sanders, thanking him for more than 40 years of hard work and dedication to Canadians living with vision loss, and to those living with vision loss across the globe. Sanders was the seventh person to head CNIB in its 91 year history, but his career with the organization actually began in 1963 and saw him occupy roles at every level and in four different provinces along the way.




Jim Sanders - An outstanding career and an outstanding individual

Sanders first began his professional relationship with CNIB at the age of 15, working at one of its retail operations at a hospital in Thunder Bay. He continued to work in full- and part-time positions within the organization as he pursued a university education, working as a counsellor at the CNIB Lake Joseph Centre in Muskoka and becoming the Centre's first blind water ski and parasailing instructor.


Jim Sanders making a speech
Jim Sanders makes a speech during a tribute celebration in his honour


In 1969, upon completion of his university studies, Sanders officially began his career with CNIB. He started with the Ontario Division but in the late 1970s relocated to Western Canada to take on the role of Executive Director of the Alberta-NWT Division. In 1986, he moved further west to become Executive Director of BC-Yukon Division. Sanders remained in British Columbia until 1989, at which point he returned to Ontario and helped establish CNIB's first government relations office in Ottawa, becoming National Director of Government Relations and International Liaison.


During the early 1990s, the Canadian government was in the process of overhauling The Canadian Copyright Act. Sanders worked tirelessly towards a copyright exemption for the production and distribution of alternative-format materials for Canadians with print disabilities. His efforts and commitment throughout this process had a tremendous impact on the availability of such materials in Canada, and today CNIB is at the forefront of alternative-format production.


Around the same time, Sanders authored "The Right to Know", a document that helped pave the way for the establishment of the National Broadcast Reading Service, a service that still thrives today, providing news, entertainment and information for Canadians with vision loss. Following this achievement, he moved to Toronto to accept the position of National Director, Fund Development.


In 1994, Sanders became the Executive Director of CNIB's Quebec Division and in 1997 took on the role of Vice President of Client Services and Technology. He led the CNIB Library into the digital age, both by overseeing the technical aspects of the transformation and by finding the funds needed to undertake such a sea change. Today, the CNIB Library is a model for specialized library services around the world.


In 2001, Sanders became CNIB's President and CEO. During his time in this role, he oversaw he oversaw the introduction of a bold new brand and mission for the organization. He led CNIB through a revitalization of the Lake Joseph Centre in Muskoka and the construction of the new CNIB Centre in Toronto, as well as overseeing the organization's renewed focus in recent years on research. Thanks in part to Jim Sanders, CNIB is now a leader in vision health and social research, as well as research into the prevention of vision loss. In 2004, he became a member of the Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian honour, for his dedication and commitment to breaking down the barriers faced by people living with vision loss in Canada.


Jim Sanders has been succeeded by John M. Rafferty. As CNIB looks forward to another exciting time for the organization, Sanders will move on to a new phase of his life, retiring after a much celebrated career.


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