Penny Hartin

Penny Hartin

Penny Hartin retired as Chief Executive Officer of the World Blind Union (WBU) in 2018

Prior to joining the WBU in 2006 as its first CEO, she spent more than 27 years at the CNIB in senior management roles, including Executive Director of the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.

Penny has gained extensive board experience as Officer of the World Blind Union and various WBU committees. At the international level, she served for six years on the first UN Panel of Experts to monitor the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, the precursor to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD ), for which she worked on the program”s development and implementation. She has frequently represented the WBU in the international arena including, at the United Nations and its various agencies.

During her career, Penny has visited more than 50 countries on every continent, except Antarctica.

Born with congenital cataracts, Penny has low vision, uses speech and screen magnification access technology and cherishes her guide dog, Chicory.


• Board member, Accessibility Standards Canada (2019 – present); a Governor in Council appointment; Chair of External Relations Committee

• Treasurer/Board Member, Blind Sailing Association of Canada (2018–present)

• Board member, CNIB Board of Directors (2017–present)

• Board Member CNIB Deafblind Community Services Board (2017–2019)

• Board Member, World Braille Foundation Board of Directors (2017–2019)

• Chairperson, Board Member; Canadian Network on Disability & Development (2006–2011)

• World Blind Union (WBU)

• President North America/Caribbean Region (2004–2006)

• Member of WBU International Officers & Executive Committee (2004–2006)

• WBU Representative on United Nations Panel of Experts on Disability Issues (1993–2000)

• Regional and International Committees on the Status of Blind Women (1990–

• Member WBU International Committee on Human Rights

• Chair WBU Low Vision Committee (current)


• Executive Leadership Program, Niagara Institute, 2003

• Bachelor of Education, Ontario Ministry of Education, 1979

• Honours Bachelor of Science in Language, Laurentian University, 1978

• 2/3 completion, Master of Business Administration, University of New Brunswick, 1995

• Honorary Doctorate of Laws (LL D.(Hon), Laurentian University, 2000