Message from the CEO

Browse a collection of messages from Chicago Lighthouse President and CEO Dr. Janet Szlyk on what is happening around The Lighthouse.

Many Hands Light The Way

(from Annual Report 2014)

Dear Friends,

It takes many hands for The Lighthouse to provide the level of exemplary services it offers. It takes the hands of volunteers to help build a new playground. It takes the hands of call center agents to assist motorists with questions about their Illinois Tollway I-Pass accounts. And, it takes the hands of a team of assistive technology specialists to show seniors the latest devices to help them cope with vision loss.

They all help illustrate The Lighthouse’s major accomplishments in 2014 and embody the theme of this year’s annual report: “Many Hands Light the Way.”

It is through their tireless efforts and those of many others that allows The Lighthouse to continue to fulfill its critical mission of providing the highest quality services for people who are blind, visually impaired, multi-disabled and Veterans.

A key component of our mission is to open doors to job opportunities for these individuals. Generating most of those jobs in the past year were The Lighthouse’s call centers.

For example, the Customer Service Call Center, which we manage for the Illinois Tollway, now employs over 300 people, more than half of whom are blind, visually impaired, otherwise disabled or Veterans. When the center opened in November, 2013, fewer than five percent of these employees were disabled or were Veterans. This is a singular accomplishment for an organization dedicated, in part, to finding employment opportunities for these individuals.

Word about our success led to the establishment of another major job-creating operation, the UI Health Customer CARE Center. Begun at The Lighthouse this past fall, the facility to date employs nearly 60 staff members who answer calls to UI Health’s main customer service number. This is another example where “Many Hands Light the Way!”

These innovative call centers represent a social enterprise by being a successful business that incorporates a charitable mission. The centers not only provide life fulfilling work for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. They also bring in additional revenue to support The Lighthouse.

The value of these synergistic relationships was also showcased in the creation of our new playground. This exciting venture came about through partnerships with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and KaBOOM!, a national non-profit. On a warm summer day, many hands came together from the Lions Clubs and other groups who volunteered to build the playground and make it a reality for hundreds of children.

These are just some of the major developments that occurred at The Lighthouse in 2014. We thank you for lending a hand to make these accomplishments possible.

Janet P. Szlyk, Ph.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer

Low Vision Research Laboratory

Research & Publications by Dr. Szlyk

Interviews with Dr. Szlyk

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