Keynote Speakers

Tommy Edisonphoto of Tommy Edison

Tommy Edison has been blind since birth and uses humor to answer the most popular questions about living without sight. Tommy began a popular YouTube channel several years ago known as the Tommy Edison Experience where he shared his experiences about living life as a blind person. He currently has a regular internet radio broadcast called The Tommy Edison Showgram where he plays just about every genre of music including pop, rock, soul, R&B, funk, dance, and jazz, while taking your requests as well as hosting a regular podcast series.

Tommy will entertain us with his delightful personality, sense of humor, and contagious laughter as our opening keynote speaker on Thursday night.

Dr. David Cockrell

Dr. Cockrell photo
Photo credit: Jacob Slaton

Dr. Cockrell is a native Oklahoman from Red Rock, Oklahoma.  He is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and received his Doctor of Optometry degree from the Southern College of Optometry.

He and Dr. Cherry Cockrell opened their practice COCKRELL EYECARE CENTER in Stillwater in 1981.  Dr. Cockrell has been an active member of his local, state, and national organizations and served in leadership positions as President of the Southwest Council of Optometry, President of the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians, and President of the American Optometric Association.

Dr. Cockrell has lectured throughout the United States on primary eye care and will be encouraging us at lunch on Friday on the importance of maintaining your eye health and new treatment for various vision ailments that will be coming out soon.

Russell Schaffer

Russell Schaffer photoOur Friday night keynote speaker is Russell Shaffer. Russell Shaffer is Director – Brand Strategy, Outreach and Benchmarking in the Office of Global Culture, Diversity & Inclusion at Walmart, and reports directly to the Chief Culture, Diversity & Inclusion Officer. In a previous role as Senior Manager – Constituent Relations, Russell managed Walmart’s corporate strategy and stakeholder outreach for the people with disabilities and aging constituencies.

Russell was elected Chair of the Board of Trustees for the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) in November 2017 after joining the AFB Board in October 2015. AFB also named him its 2015 Stephen Garff Marriott award recipient in recognition of his professional achievement and service as a person who is blind or low vision.

Russell is an honors graduate of Malone University in Canton, Ohio, and holds a bachelor of arts degree in business administration and communication arts. He resides in Rogers, Ark. with his wife, Jessica, and their children, Sophia and Brady. His perspectives on disability advocacy and inclusion are informed by his experiences with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic, degenerative eye disease that was diagnosed when Russell was 10 years old and led to his legal blindness by his late 20s.