Nona Graves has dedicated her life to setting an example for people who are blind or visually impaired. For her service and achievements, the Council honors Nona with the Louis Seidita Lifetime Achievement Excellence Award. Nona is 86 years old and has lived in the Madison/Milwaukee area since the 1950s. She was born in Antigo, Wisconsin. She spent her career working for the Social Security Administration, and holds a Bachelor’s in history and English from Lawrence University in Appleton, and a Master’s from Marquette University in Milwaukee.
Nona continues to spend much of her life in advocacy and leadership roles. Examples of her work include service and leadership on the board of the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired, the American Council of the Blind, Vision Forward, and the Alumni Association of the Wisconsin School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Janesville.
When asked about her motivations, Nona responds, “I did the work I did because I wanted to, and it has nothing to do with recognition. The work needed to be done, and I enjoy tasks others might find boring.”
The six words her nominator, Rhonda Staats, selected to describe Nona were: forthright, honest, ethical, determined, efficient, and self-defined.
“There is no doubt how Nona stands on any issue,” Rhonda says. “She is not afraid to speak truth.”
Although she has stepped away from administrative roles, Nona still finds time to visit schools and other public venues promoting the dignity and empowerment of people who are blind or visually impaired. She serves in a leadership role with her church, and is active in her local Lions Club. Nona sends a clear message of giving back as she lives her life in her community.
“I am glad that throughout my life, I had the opportunity to be active and find a rewarding job,” Nona says. “I want other people to look at my life and take from it the example of finding work that they can do and to be considerate of other people. It is important that people remember to be charitable, because giving back is vital.”
Nona received the Louis Seidita Lifetime Achievement Award at the Scholarship and Excellence Awards luncheon on Saturday, May 18, in Madison.