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2017 President’s Award Winner
Rose K. Donnell - IL

Rose Donnell

Rose and Ed Donnell moved to Mexico City in 1948, when Ed was named President of Montgomery Ward–Mexico. Rose became a transcriber for the National School for the Blind, where she helped establish programs for blind children and pioneered a Guías de México troop (similar to Girl Scouts) for blind girls. Helen Keller visited her troop and acknowledged Rose for her leadership. These activities sparked a lifetime passion for helping people who are blind.

When Ed was promoted, they relocated to Winnetka and Rose joined the Hadley Woman’s Board. In 1968, she initiated the idea of selling album holiday cards to supplement the income from the Woman’s Board braille holiday card sale. University of Courage, a history of Hadley, chronicles Rose’s contribution, “Besides the financial importance of this project, the constant flow of customers into the Hadley building during the last few months of the year helped make the school better known to more and more people in the community.” Chris Myers, Rose’s friend and fellow Woman’s Board member, recalls, “When Rose took on a project, she made things happen.”

Rose and Ed joined the Hadley Board of Trustees in 1970, and in 1976 Rose was elected the first female Chair of Hadley’s Board of Trustees. “Rose was a favorite of the staff, faculty and leadership at Hadley,” says former Hadley President Chuck Young. “At the first Hounds for Hadley dog walk fundraiser in 2005, Rose had an admirer escort her pug Rosie while she drove her Caddy, cheering on the walkers.”

Through many decades of dedicated service, Rose has helped thousands of blind and visually impaired people. Her work at Hadley will leave a legacy for future generations.

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