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MAB Community Services CEO to retire from organization serving people with disabilities

Barbara Salisbury, CEO of MAB Community Services, is retiring.Handout

Barbara Salisbury, CEO of MAB Community Services, is retiring after 17 years of leadership over the nonprofit that serves people with blindness and other disabilities, the organization announced Wednesday.

During her tenure, Salisbury raised MAB Community Services’ annual revenue to $50 million from $10 million, said the nonprofit, formerly known as the Massachusetts Association for the Blind. Salisbury will stay at the organization until the board chooses a successor in the coming months.

“Departing MAB is bittersweet, but I am encouraged by the work we have done and are doing to afford our participants the ability to live their lives in the manner they see fit,” Salisbury said in the release.

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MAB Community Services serves more than 1,500 people across Massachusetts with visual impairment, brain injuries, and intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Under Salisbury’s leadership, MAB Community Services introduced the Maxo Joseph Awards, which highlights staff for their work with participants and aims to improve the nonprofit’s retention of caregiver staff. During the past year, fewer than 17 percent of MAB Community Services caregivers left their jobs, compared to 40 to 60 percent industrywide, the release said.

“Barbara has made an undeniable impact on MAB Community Services since her appointment in 2006,” said board president Stephanie Fidel. “Her leadership has resulted in significant operational and financial successes and increased innovation across all three divisions of the organization.”

In the visual impairment division, Salisbury increased the number of blind and visually impaired staff with leadership and therapist positions, made its therapy program accessible online, and appointed Sassy Outwater-Wright, a blind acoustician and audio engineer, as director.

Another division, the Ivy Street School, underwent upgrades to its therapeutic programs and infrastructure during Salisbury’s time as CEO, and the school received more student applications than it had capacity for, according to the organization.

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A third branch, Adult Disability Services, tripled its group homes from 10 to 30 and launched a training and rehabilitation center to help adults recovering from brain injuries. With Salisbury at the helm, the nonprofit also created “Skills for Life,” a program focused on independence for neurodivergent young adults.

“I am immensely proud of the obstacles we’ve overcome and the new services we’ve introduced,” Salisbury said. “Above all, I am proud of our staff who make a difference in the lives of others, to the point of becoming like family in many cases. Investing in people has been the best strategy.”


Esha Walia can be reached at esha.walia@globe.com.