Congratulations to MCNY MPA Alumna and Professor Holly Bonner!

On April 19, 2019, Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed eight commissioners to the New York City Civic Engagement Commission. The newly appointed commissioners represent every borough and have a range of experience engaging and advocating for New Yorkers from all walks of life, including people with disabilities and immigrants and supporting community boards to help them be more effective and more representative of the communities they represent.

“Civic engagement allows each of us to build a bridge that will help strengthen the democratic process in New York City,” said the newly appointed Civic Engagement Commissioner Holly Bonner, “I am honored to serve as a mayoral appointee to this Commission. I look forward to working with the other members, non-profits and various agencies to help enhance civic participation amongst New Yorkers of all cultures and abilities.”

Read more in the official press release from the Mayor’s office.

The unstoppable Holly Bonner is a 2008 MPA graduate of the Metropolitan College of New York School for Public Affairs and Administration and a 2002 BPS alumna and now, a professor in the MCNY School for Human Services and Education. She is smart, confident, and beautiful and has a huge personality that everyone finds endearing.  Holly also holds a Masters of Social Work (MSW) from the prestigious Columbia University School of Social Work. She is a Credentialed Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) in the State of New York as well as an Internationally Certified Alcohol Substance Abuse Counselor (ICADC). Holly is a Human Services Board Certified Practitioner (HSBCP).

With over 15 years of experience working with at-risk youth in a variety of clinical and community settings, her areas of expertise include anti-bullying education, addiction counseling, juvenile justice proceedings, domestic violence and veterans’ advocacy. Having become legally blind after battling breast cancer, Holly is a volunteer Peer Counselor for the American Federation for the Blind (AFB) and an advocate in the blind community educating others on disability rights and low vision awareness. She is a regularly featured writer for Vision Aware and Family Connect for the AFB and Perkins School for the Blind.

She has had an amazing journey from education to career, but that is not the story Holly Bonner is asking us to share.

Here’s a little bit of the story in her own words…

“At the age of 32, I lost my eyesight from a rare complication after battling breast cancer. Over the next 6 months, I would have to relearn everything from crossing the street to sorting laundry. Then, the universe threw me the ultimate curveball – I found out I was pregnant! When people asked me how I planned on traveling with me baby, I responded, ‘I’m going to get a guide dog!’”

In September of 2016, Guiding Eyes for the Blind matched Holly Bonner with Frances, a female yellow Labrador. Since then, “Franny” and Holly have become partners in both parenting and advocacy work for visually impaired parents. Now, the mother of 2 daughters, Holly depends on Frances to help guide her to pre-school, doctor’s appointments and extracurricular activities.

“When “Franny” is not helping me meet the demands of motherhood, she accompanies me to help educate kids through the Visually Impaired Education Program (VIEP). Aimed at grades K-2, V.I.E.P. ’s mission is to engage school-aged children through classroom interaction with the blind/visually impaired community; helping diminish stereotypes associated with blindness,” says Professor Bonner, “Frances attends every presentation — a beautiful reminder about the important work of guide dogs.”

Frances “Franny” Bonner – Guide Dog to Professor Holly Bonner

The American Humane Hero Dog Awards came to the MCNY Manhattan campus to film Frances and Holly starting with their commute from the Staten Island Ferry to the Manhattan campus of MCNY.  Frances is a nominee for the American Humane Hero Dog Awards which will air on the Hallmark Channel on October 24th.

“I believe Frances deserves to be the American Hero Guide Dog because her partnership allows me to be the woman I want to be,” says Holly Bonner, “She helps me juggle all that comes with being a working mom while educating our community about living with vision loss.”  Holly attributes a part of her success to her K-9 partner but the truth is that HOLLY BONNER doesn’t allow anything to get in the way of who she wants to be!  SHE IS UNSTOPPABLE!