Former Latin America regional coordinator Steve Perreault was honored by Perkins International with the Anne Sullivan Macy Medal at a celebratory dinner July 22, recognizing his nearly four decades of service to the deafblind community.
“When Steve began his work in Latin America, only a few hundred children were being served. Today, that number has swelled to tens of thousands,” said Perkins President and CEO Dave Power, who presented the award. “These are children who are growing into engaged, productive adults who can help support their families and be contributing members of their communities.”
Perreault first came to Perkins School for the Blind in 1978 as a teacher in the Deafblind Program. After a decade in the classroom, he took a position at the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, helping to develop critical services for young adults with deafblindness. In 1989, he returned to Perkins as the national consultant for parent services.
In 1995, Perreault became the regional coordinator for Latin America where he was instrumental in launching the first international program in Cordoba, Argentina.
“Our Latin American programs are really Steve’s legacy,” said Power. “He built Perkins’ programs in the region from the ground up – by knocking on doors, educating governments and acting as the voice of Latin American children with blindness and deafblindness.”
Perreault’s continued work in Latin America and the Caribbean led to new policies and better services for children with deafblindness and multiple disabilities. He built a network of local partner organizations and worked with universities to establish teacher training programs.
Graciela Ferioli, Perkins’ regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, worked alongside Perreault for more than 20 years. During that time, she was constantly inspired by his positive approach to challenges and his genuine passion for expanding services and education in the region.
“Even today we remember his laughter and his stories,” she said. “With his charm, his words and his love, Steve touched hundreds of thousands of children, young people and families in Latin America and the Caribbean.”
During Wednesday’s dinner on Perkins’ Watertown campus, colleagues, friends and international graduates of Perkins’ Educational Leadership Program (ELP) shared congratulations and memories, including a video tribute to Perreault from partners in Latin America. Perreault spoke fondly of his time at Perkins, and the network of support he built over the course of his career.
“It’s amazing, looking around the room at all the people who are part of my history,” he said. “None of this was alone, it was all a partnership.”