BVA Names Melanie Brunson to Government Relations Post
Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) Executive Director Al Avina has announced the appointment of Melanie Brunson as the organization’s Director of Government Relations.
In her new role, effective October 26, Brunson will serve as BVA’s primary legislative liaison between blinded veterans nationally and the U.S. Congress. She will prepare legislative testimony, correspond with elected representatives and senators, direct the Association’s research on legislative issues affecting blinded veterans, and represent BVA in advocating for blinded veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Central Office. She will also participate in legislative policy development and analysis at BVA national conventions.
“On a national level, Melanie brings with her to BVA a wealth of knowledge and an excellent breadth of experience in her advocacy on behalf of the blind,” said Avina. “She is a most welcome and important addition to our headquarters staff as we continually strive to more effectively serve America’s blinded veterans and their families.”
A licensed attorney, Brunson was most recently the Executive Director of the American Council of the Blind (ACB). She joined the ACB staff in August 1998, initially serving as the organization’s Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs. She moved to the Executive Director’s position in 2003.
In 2008, Brunson was appointed by the Governor of Virginia to the State Rehabilitation Council, a federally mandated body that advises the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired on how to improve the vocational rehabilitation services it provides. She was a member of the Council for six years as she continued her employment with ACB, acting as Council Chair in 2012 and serving on the Executive Committee during her last two years.
Prior to joining ACB, Brunson lived and worked in California. She practiced law in that state for 14 years. Much of her time was spent in a private practice that emphasized estate planning for persons with disabilities and their families. In 1996-97 she worked as a Client Assistance Program Advocate, assisting individuals with disabilities with legal issues related to their matriculation of the state’s vocational rehabilitation system. From January to July of 1998, she was employed as an attorney for the Western Law Center for Disability Rights in Los Angeles.
Brunson obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Whittier College (California) and her Juris Doctorate from Whittier College School of Law. She was admitted to the California Bar in 1984 and still maintains her license to practice law in the state.
Brunson resides in Vienna, Virginia, with her husband Lyle and her guide dog Sparta. During her career she has been active in community organizations outside of her employment. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Alumni Association.
The Blinded Veterans Association is the only Congressionally Chartered Veterans Service Organization exclusively dedicated to promoting the welfare of the Nation’s blinded veterans and their families. The Association completed 70 years of service on March 28, 2015. There is no charge for any BVA service and membership is not a prerequisite for assistance. For further information, call BVA at 800-669-7079 or visit www.bva.org.