Shannon Cook

silhouette headshot

Shannon Cook, Secretary


Shannon Watson Cook


Shannon grew up in Bamberg, SC, Gary and Kathy’s only child. She was born with cataracts, developed glaucoma at three, and then began having cornea issues in her mid-twenties. She has had thirty eye surgeries so far. She was the only mainstreamed blind student in the small-town school district, which made it necessary to learn the importance of self-advocacy early on in her educational journey.  Along with her academic pursuits, she was an accomplished pianist and vocalist. She took jazz, tap, and ballet for twelve years by the time she graduated high school. Shannon graduated tenth in her class and received many academic honors along the way.


After high school, Shannon attended the College of Charleston, earning a Bachelor of Sociology in 1995. The College of Charleston had no program for students with disabilities then. This lack of official services further taught her more ways to advocate for herself and others. She started a disability student group to serve as the voice of disabled students for college administration.   Shannon then entered USC and graduated with a Master of Social Work degree in 1999.


At 18, Shannon was introduced to the National Federation of the Blind of SC approximately one month prior to her high school graduation. Parnell Diggs invited her to a Student Division Membership Meeting. She met David Bundy, Donald Blanchard, and others who she is still friends with today. Some she knew through attending the Summer Teen Program. This was a pivotal meeting that changed her life and perspective on blindness forever. She quickly became involved in the NFB, attending her first national convention in New Orleans only six weeks after her first meeting. She was so energized by the people she met and their positive image of blindness that she could not stay away from this upbeat group of people. Within the next year, Don Capps asked her to start a new chapter in Bamberg County, where she served as president for eight years. She soon thereafter served on the Scholarship Committee, became Student Division president for 1 – 2 years, and was elected to the state board. She has attended all but two state conventions since 1991 and fifteen national conventions overall.


Shannon worked at Verizon Wireless, then the SC Commission for the Blind for nearly eighteen years, and now is employed with Successful Transitions, a program of the NFB of SC.


Other roles Shannon has had in the Federation include being Scholarship Committee Chair, Palmetto Convention Grant Chair, Counselor for Senior Camp since 2007, Co-Director of Senior Camp, and Secretary for the NFB of SC Board, Rocky Bottom Board, Federation Center Board, and the Computer Science & Technology Division Board.


Shannon has made life-long friendships and connections through the Federation, not the least of which was meeting Steve Cook, the man who would become her husband when they both served as counselors during Children’s Camp at Rocky Bottom. They will celebrate twenty years of marriage in October, or for anyone who is curious 7305 days!


(803) 605-4250