Watertown, MA – Perkins School for the Blind has named Michael J. Delaney as Executive Director of Perkins International in a move to expand its worldwide mission educating and empowering children and young adults with visual impairments. He assumed the role on January 25, 2016, after more than three decades in international relief and development.
Delaney spent 25 years Oxfam America, known globally for combatting poverty, famine and injustice. There he established the Humanitarian Division, growing it to one-third of Oxfam’s program operations and budget. Delaney’s approach to some of the world’s most dire conflicts and environmental disasters was to break through systemic barriers, enabling people in vulnerable communities to reach their full potential.
“Every child has a right to an education. To claim that right, families and communities need the tools and training to help them drive their own development,” Delaney said. “Perkins International is already working worldwide to build the capacity of educators, parents and local government officials to determine their own futures. With such a strong foundation, we can expand that mission even further.”
The World Health Organization estimates 46 million children worldwide have significant vision impairment. Ninety percent of them live in developing nations. Only one in ten goes to school. Tapping Delaney’s experience and reputation for effecting social change, Perkins International enters a new chapter in its long commitment to transforming the lives of visually impaired children and young adults through education.
Delaney will build on Perkins International’s 30-plus years of work creating sustainable programs through local partnerships as it is poised to launch several new initiatives. These include better assessment tools to help governments evaluate special education programs, certified teacher training courses and a global focus on transition to adult living. The initiatives are designed to improve every aspect of the educational process for children and young adults with vision loss.
“Mike Delaney has witnessed how the right supports and resources can fuel human potential,” said Dave Power, President and CEO of Perkins. “Perkins International’s ambitious new growth plan focuses on bringing the life-changing power of education to more children and young adults who are blind, deafblind or multiply disabled. The knowledge, energy and vision Mike brings will propel our work to create genuine, positive, global change.”
Delaney’s career has taken him to the scenes of recent humanitarian crises in Syria, Haiti, Philippines, Sudan and Darfur. In 2015, he founded Crescendo International – supported in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – which seeks to increase the participation and impact of local aid organizations in large-scale humanitarian efforts.
With degrees in economics and political science, Delaney teaches and advises at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management, where he developed and leads a master’s level course on humanitarian response and development.
Perkins School for the Blind, founded in 1829 as the first school of its kind in the US, is a multifaceted organization working around the world to prepare children and young adults who are blind with the education, confidence and skills they need to realize their full potential.