AIDB honors Graham for his 35 years of service
by Kenny Farmer
TALLADEGA — A reception was held Friday to honor Dr. Terry Graham for his 35 years of service to the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind.

Graham came to AIDB in 1977 as principal of the Helen Keller School, in 1983 became director of the institution’s Regional Centers, was named executive director of Health, Evaluation and Outreach in 1992 and for the past 10 years has served as president of AIDB.

"Dr. Graham is a strong and compassionate leader,” said Dr. John Mascia, vice president of Adult Programs at AIDB, who will officially take over as president of the institute on Feb. 1. “He is always motivated by doing what is right for the people we serve in all AIDB programs."

In honor of Graham’s service, it was recently announced by AIDB’s Board of Directors that $50,000 has been designated for the creation of the Terry Graham Presidential Endowment for Excellence. The earnings of this endowment will be used to help the institution for “generations to come.”

"I wanted to say that, as someone who has worked with Terry since his arrival at AIDB, he has demonstrated a great deal of personal integrity both by listening to colleagues as well as having thought through how to handle varying situations himself,” said Dr. Frieda Meacham, vice president of Instructional Programs at AIDB. “He has unfailingly been true to and cited the issues of those who benefit from the many varied programs of the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind and he has also never failed to summarize the issues of various circumstances and groups in a manner that conveyed the real point of any program or discussion. His explanations are always clear and concise. Many of Terry's involvements have been based on his ability to not only think things through, while working with his staff, but also to articulate any finding or decision in a caring way."

During his time as president of AIDB, Graham helped raise more that $26 million through philanthropic efforts. Those efforts resulted in the construction of many new facilities, including three dormitories, an independent living center and a student center. Every major facility was also upgraded through AIDB’s “Living With Pride” campaign.

Graham served as AIDB’s director of Field Services from 1983 until 1992, where he was in charge of the development and expansion of the institute’s innovative statewide network of Regional Centers. From there he became executive director of Health, Evaluation and Outreach at AIDB, where he was instrumental in the creation of a Senior Services program for people with age related hearing and vision loss.

"The Terry Graham legacy at AIDB is profound,” said Lynne Hanner, executive director of Institutional Advancement at AIDB. “During his 35 years as an administrator here, programs like a statewide network of regional centers, the merging of programs for deaf, blind and multi-disabled children at Helen Keller School, the creation of Senior Services, all changed and diversified the way AIDB does business. The impact of his leadership will be felt for many years to come."

At the reception Friday, many guests were present to express thanks, tell stories and make presentations. Among those were Graham’s first mentor, Dr. Paul Cotton, music and psychology professor at William Carey University; former AIDB President Dr. Jack Hawkins; Dr. Rod Nowakowski, dean of the UAB School of Optometry; Talladega Mayor Larry Barton; and Mark Morrison, director of Corporate Affairs at Honda Manufacturing of America.

Graham was presented with many gifts, including an iPad, a scrapbook and framed collage documenting his time at the institution, fishing lures and a University of Alabama T-shirt. He was also presented with a resolution from the state Senate recognizing him for his outstanding work at AIDB.

“It’s been a rainy day today, but you all have brought sunshine into my life,” Graham said. “It’s hard to find the words to express myself at a time like this, but one word comes to mind — family. I have been so blessed to be a part of the AIDB family. I’m so grateful, so appreciative and so honored.”

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© 2013