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Commission for the Blind to tap new exec

The Oregon Commission for the Blind will select a new executive director for the state agency at a special Saturday meeting. The commission will select from among four finalists, two of whom are blind.

Former administrator Linda Mock, who had worked for the agency for 37 years, retired on Jan. 30.

The agency has been embattled in recent years, rocked by a series of state audits that were highly critical of its management and financial dealings. The new director will take the hot seat in time to interact with lawmakers and plea for the agency’s state funding requests during the 2013 Oregon legislative session.

The commission interviewed four finalists Friday and is set to name a new director during a one-hour meeting beginning at 9 a.m. at the agency offices on 535 S.E. 12th Ave. in Portland.

The four finalists are Christine Boone, director of the Michigan Commission for the Blind training center; Joe Cordova, administrator of the division of vocational rehabilitation for the Hawaii Department of Human Services; Imara Jabari, former executive director of workforce integration for Chemeketa Community College in Salem; and Dacia Johnson, the Portland agency’s director of rehabilitative services and interim director.

Johnson is the insider candidate, while Jabari also worked in Oregon. Boone and Cordova, both from out of state, are the two blind candidates.

The National Federation of the Blind of Oregon, an advocacy group often at odds with the state agency, supports Cordova, said the group’s vice president, Art Stevenson. The group prefers the agency have a qualified blind person at the helm, he said. “That person could further enlighten the public of the capabilities of a blind person,” Stevenson said.

Those who want to dial in to the meeting may call 877-214-5010, and mention participants’ code 943611.