EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR - Dr. Robert E. Harrison established the VISTAS Center in 2001 and positioned Mrs. Peggy Chavis Garrett (MSW at UGA and visually-impaired) as Program Director. Earlier, he retired (1998) as a University of GA project director, then founded (2000) the Institute for Community and Organizational Development (ICOD). He earned a Ed.D Adult Education (1989), Ed.S Student Personnel in Higher Education (1984), and MED in Rehabilitation Counseling (1974)from UGA; and Bachelors Degree in Art Education, Mississippi Valley State University(1968). His focus includes adult learning, youth development, training, program development and grant writing. ( www.icodinc.org) PROGRAM DIRECTOR - Mrs. Margaret Tribble: A vital member of the VISTAS team since 2002 after retirement (1998) from a 30-year career as Elementary Education teacher; B.S. Benedict College; MED University of GA.
BOARD CHAIR - Mrs. Barbara F. Bacon: Executive Director of Hands On Washington, Inc.(Wilkes Co. GA); a superb visionary leader with over 25 years in community development including affordable housing, home ownership and program development; former City of Washington Grants Administrator, Consultant; a Certified Comprehensive Housing Educator and Administrator and owner of a public relations firm; extensive study and training via HUD and GA Department of Community Affairs; Los Angeles City College, Truett-McConnell College and Athens Technical College.
VISION SCREENING - Dr. John Forche', D.O. Owner of Five Points Optical, Inc., Athens. He provides vision screenings for each new program client. Dr. Jon Forché is a graduate of Miami University where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in Biological Sciences. He received his Doctorate in Optometry from the Ohio State University College of Optometry. He completed a residency in Low Vision Rehabilitation/Ocular Disease at the Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr. Jon Forché is the only Low Vision Rehabilitation Specialist in Northeast Georgia. Dr. Forché is a vision rehabilitation consultant with the following organizations: Vision Rehabilitation Services of Northeast Georgia in Atlanta, Georgia, VISTAS in Athens, Georgia and The Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency.
TECHNOLOGY SPECIALIST - Ms. Jeraldine Toney: A highly skilled and experienced professional who holds an Associate Degree CIS/Programming Specialist; Gwinnett Technical College; Center for the Visually Impaired: Windows, JAWS, Microsoft Office 2000 Professional, Excel, Power Point, Access, Microsoft Word, Internet Explorer and Microsoft Outlook, Visual Basic Studio 6.0.
Ms. Arona Elk is a certified O&M Instructor by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals. She has an undergraduate degree from Georgia State University and a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation in Blindness from the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. She has over 10 yrs. experience in working with the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Ms. Tyra R. Hawkins - Vision Rehab Therapist, Counselor and Orientation and Mobility Instructor - Ms. Hawkins is ACVREP Certified in all areas; Master of Science, Florida State University with over 40 years of experience working with Rehabilitation Services in Alabama and Georgia.
Dr. Pankaj Gaur - Vision Rehab Therapist: Dr. Gaur is a registered Vision Rehab Therapist and an Orientation & Mobility Specialist serving our clients since 2015. He has over 26 years of national and international experience in the field of Visual Impairment. He received his Ph. D from India and later obtained his Masters in Orientation and Mobility from the University of Northern Colorado. He consults multiple state agencies and local school districts on best practices and strategies to serve people with visual impairment. Dr. Gaur has been a keynote speaker at various national and international seminars / conferences. He lives in Conyers with his wife, son and two dogs. His wife also serves the visually impaired population and works as a braille transcriber and his son is pursuing a master’s in public health policy from Emory University.