Annie supervises our Assembly Department, where she oversees the assembly and packing of products such as clipboards, mops, rubber stamps and pot scrubbers. Over her four decades here, she’s had a chance to work at just about every job.
For nineteen people at Industries of the Blind, Annie Alexander is the boss.
But they don’t call her that. Everybody calls her “Miss Annie.” Spend just a few minutes with her and you understand why people use the affectionate nickname. There doesn’t seem to be much that ruffles Miss Annie’s feathers. She laughs a lot. She takes everything in stride.
Her easygoing nature is all the more remarkable considering the hand she’s been dealt. Annie was born an albino, a disorder that made her legally blind. She’s never known what it’s like to see clearly but you won’t hear her complain about that. She just gets on with what needs to be done.
In her job at IOB, what needs to be done (among other tasks) is helping people in her department who have only recently become visually impaired. These folks, Annie points out, have not just lost their vision. They have often lost their confidence, too.
This is where Annie’s special genius comes in for bringing out the best in people—the brighter attitude, the better work. “When you’re a supervisor,” she says, “you’re also a psychologist, a preacher, a social worker and a secretary. You’re a lotta things!”
She’s right: Annie is more than even that list suggests. She is also Lee Street’s only Rhyming Supervisor. When she’s training someone on a new job, Annie will spin some verse, on the spot, to help the trainee remember the order of tasks. Here’s one of her more popular ditties:
First the metal
Then the board
Press the button
Then you’ve scored!
To really appreciate the rhyme you need to see it in action, on the floor. And by the way, you’re welcome to drop in any time. Annie also gives tours.
Annie brings her affable nature to just about everything she does, and it turns out she does a lot. Over the years she has served on The American Council of the Blind and National Federation of the Blind. She has worked in several roles at a blind-operated credit union (“You gotta pay your bills”) and in a blind consumer organization helping get legislation passed.
She is an active member of Faith Community Church but she really wishes they hadn’t asked her to sing in the choir. She insists she’s no good. Her husband Chris, though: now there’s a guy who can sing. He and his twin brother Cliff both work at IOB, too.
Annie still enjoys her job and gets great satisfaction from helping her team perform at such a high level. “It does people good once they’ve learned something. They say ‘Miss Annie, I got it now!’”