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May 2010: Angela C. Winfield, Esq.

Blind African-American attorney picks her passion and leads by example.

 Even though she is a young attorney, Angela C. Winfield has already been noticed. At first she didn’t realize she was being watched, but as she later found out, many were not only paying attention to her but also looking up to her. As a blind African American graduate of a top tier law school, Cornell University, she not only had the attention of employers, but those in her Central New York community. Realizing that she is a role model—and had something to offer others—Angela founded a motivational speaking organization.

Angela lost her sight gradually from complications with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, cataracts, glaucoma, and uveitis. She was legally blind at the age of 10, and lost the rest of her sight at 19. After graduating from Cornell Law School two years ago, she joined the law firm of Hiscock & Barclay, L.L.P. in Syracuse, NY where she practices commercial litigation, torts, and products liability defense law. In addition to her legal practice, Angela serves on a handful of non-profit boards, including the Auburn YMCA and Aurora of Central New York, an organization that provides support services for those with sensory impairments.

For as long as she could remember, Angela had mentors of her own. They encouraged her to grow and develop by exemplifying qualities that she aspired to develop. She has just begun to formally serve as a mentor to others, yet over the last few years, she came to realize that others looked to her as a mentor. “Many people have told me that I am an inspiration to them. As an African-American woman with a disability, I realize that my accomplishments and experiences with overcoming adversity can benefit others,” she said, “I never saw myself the way others did; but regardless, it was time for me to give back by leading by example.”

One of the more significant ways Angela gives back is through an organization she created, Blind Faith Enterprises LLC. Blind Faith Enterprises is a motivational speaking company that allows Angela to educate others about diversity and disability as well as to motivate individuals to reach their highest potential. She speaks for schools, health fairs, women’s groups, and minority groups across the north-east. She tells others, specifically those in the legal field, to pick their passion and be the best they can at it. “Disability rights is a cause that is obviously important to me,” she stated, “yet I find that being a well-qualified litigator—who happens to have a disability—is my unique way of advancing disability rights. I am able to show my colleagues that those with disabilities can practice any type of law they want. Attorneys with disabilities are well-rounded, and we don’t necessarily have to be disability rights attorneys to advance disability rights.”