President Biden Appoints Members to U.S. AbilityOne Fee

WASHINGTON – Today President Biden announced that he has appointed the following individuals to the U.S. AbilityOne Commission, which administers the AbilityOne program, one of the largest sources of employment for the blind or severely disabled in the country:

  • Bryan Bashin, Appointed Commissioner
  • Christina Brandt, appointed commissioner
  • Gabriel M. Cazares, Commissioner Representative
  • Chai Rachel Feldblum, appointed commissioner

Bryan Bashin, Commissioner
Bryan Bashin is CEO of the San Francisco Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a 119-year nonprofit dedicated to the comprehensive education and employment of blind people. His organization has employed blind workers for 30 years through National Industries for the Blind, a key not-for-profit organization in the AbilityOne program. Over the past 11 years, Bashin has overseen a significant expansion of direct blind employment in AbilityOne, but mostly in competitive, integrated workplaces. Bashin previously served as the Assistant Regional Commissioner for the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) for the Department of Education, overseeing $ 400 million in federal spending on the disabled in Arizona, Nevada, California, Hawaii, and the Pacific Territories. From 1998 to 2004, Bashin was Executive Director of the Sacramento Society for the Blind, where he led a major expansion of blind services, including competitive employment programs. Bashin was also an expert on cases involving the employment of people with disabilities. As a former science journalist, Bashin is very familiar with industrial and technical processes and the skills requirements of employers. Bashin is currently a board member of the VisionServe Alliance, an association of more than 100 US blindness agencies.

Christina Brandt, Commissioner
Christina Brandt is the CEO of an innovative non-profit organization, an AbilityOne producer with over four decades of quality service to government customers. She has AtWork! from a sheltered workshop that pays below average wages to a nationally recognized best practice provider of tailored and integrated municipal employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As a subject matter expert, Christina has provided training and technical assistance in several states, including significant work in Oregon implementing the Lane vs. Brown comparison. During her 46-year career, she has promoted equality and inclusion for people with disabilities and has been instrumental in enforcing Washington State’s Employment First legislation.

Gabe Cazares, commissioner
Gabe Cazares is currently the director of Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Office for the Disabled in the city of Houston, Texas. In this role, Gabe oversees the accessible and timely delivery of city services, programs, and activities to over 215,000 Houston residents with disabilities. Prior to his appointment, he was Manager of Government Affairs for the National Federation of the Blind in Baltimore, Maryland. There he led the organization’s portfolio of education, technology, immigrant rights, LGBTQ and the portfolio of blind entrepreneur politics for small businesses. Gabe holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a minor in Spanish from Texas State University. He and his partner Derin Dacey live in Houston with their four-year-old rescue dog Sam.

Chai Feldblum, commissioner
Chai Feldblum is a national expert on disability law and labor law. She led the drafting and negotiation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. As a law professor at Georgetown University Law Center, she and her students represented nonprofit organizations, including disability rights organizations, in promoting legislation and regulations in support of the goals social justice. Chai was a commissioner for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission during the Obama-Biden administration, where she spearheaded regulation under Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act 1973 with all disabilities and a 2% percentage of people with significant disabilities. The latter group includes people with the type of disability recruited through the AbilityOne program. Chai is a lesbian and has a psychiatric anxiety disorder.


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