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LightHouse for the Blind

Executive Administrative Assistant

POSITION:            Executive Administrative Assistant

REPORTS TO:     Senior Executive Assistant

STATUS:             Non-Exempt

JOB PURPOSE:

The Executive Administrative Assistant (EAA) provides administrative and accessibility support to LightHouse senior directors and managers, as many LightHouse directors and supervisors are blind and visually-impaired. The primary purpose of this position is to provide visual access, computer support and other administrative functions that remove barriers to accessibility.

This position also assists the Senior Executive Assistant in performing duties related to supporting the LightHouse Board of Directors, correspondence, mail processing and executive event operations.

QUALIFICATIONS:

Education or equivalent:  A college degree with concentration in English, Liberal Arts or Communications a plus.

Experience: At least two years experience in an administrative support position, or related field.  A background in non-profits is desirable.

Other: Excellent verbal and written communication skills, flexible, detail-oriented. Ability to manage multiple projects with precision and a high degree of organization.  Must have strong interpersonal skills to relate to staff, board members, volunteers, and students with disabilities.  Strong ability to use Microsoft Office suite – particularly Word, Excel and Outlook. Strong familiarity with social media a plus.  Must have valid California Driver License and be willing to drive as part of this position.

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS:

Able to carry or transport 20 lbs., sit at a desk and perform computer-intensive work for long periods of time, operate standard office equipment and travel independently.

JOB ACCOUNTABILITIES:

  • Prepare correspondence for CEO and LightHouse directors as assigned, including writing letters, reports and minutes, formatting, mailing, printing and producing in alternative media.
  • Proof and prepare documents and correspondence.
  • Assist blind and low-vision employees with rapid completion of paperwork, purchases, authorizations and other paper-based and/or inaccessible online operations as directed.
  • Assist with sorting and logging of mail for blind and low-vision LightHouse directors.
  • Assist blind and low-vision employees to complete inaccessible documents such as timesheets, purchase orders, receipt back-ups and other access issues.
  • Assist team in processing incoming and outgoing mail.
  • Perform other clerical duties as assigned by the Senior Executive Assistant.
  • Provide reader/driver services for blind and low-vision members of the LightHouse executive team.
  • Provide executive administrative support to the CEO and senior directors.
  • Make business travel and hotel arrangements, as directed by the Senior Executive Assistant.
  • Other Duties: Please note this job description is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties or responsibilities that are required of the employee for this job. Duties, responsibilities and activities may change at any time with or without notice.

SUPERVISORY RESPONSIBILITY:

N/A

WORKING CONDITIONS:

LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired is an equal opportunity employer to all.  We strive to maintain a scent-free environment and a drug-free workplace.  We also operate under a mutual “employment at will” policy.

TO APPLY:

Please submit a cover letter and résumé as Word attachments (no PDFs please), to hr@lighthouse-sf.org, including the job title in the subject line. We will not consider videos or hyperlinks to online profiles. Due to time constraints we will only respond to complete submissions in which there is serious interest. Thank you for your understanding.

LightHouse Announces the Holman Prize for Blind Ambition

“The Holman Prize is not meant to save the world or congratulate someone for leaving the house. This prize will spark unanticipated accomplishments in the blindness community. You will see blind people doing things that surprise and perhaps even confuse you. These new LightHouse prizes will change perceptions about what blind people are capable of doing.”

— Bryan Bashin, CEO at LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Meet The Holman Prize for Blind Ambition – LightHouse’s new initiative to support the ambitions of blind and low vision people worldwide. Beginning in 2017, The Holman Prize will announce an annual set of awards funding projects in a range of amounts – up to $25,000 per project – that will finance and support blind adventurers worldwide in pursuing their most ambitious projects.

Chronicled in a 2006 novel by Jason Roberts, the explorer James Holman became the first blind person to circumnavigate the globe in 1832. In his spirit, The Holman Prize celebrates people who want to shape their own future instead of having it laid out for them.

The Holman Prize is specifically for legally blind individuals with a penchant for exploration of all types. LightHouse’s initial 2017 prizes will provide financial backing for a as many as three individuals to explore the world and push their limits through travel, connections, construction and communication. 

The ideal candidate is someone who is willing to probe their environment and eager to savor the richness of a world that is so often thought of as inaccessible to the blind. This exploration may involve travel, community organizing, scholarship, daring art or projects we haven’t even considered. We’re looking for intrepid travelers, creative problem solvers, effective communicators, natural ambassadors, passionate advocates, joyful builders, active boundary-pushers and experience seekers.

In January 2017, The Holman Prize application process kicks off with a challenge: blind applicants must submit a first-round pitch in the form of a 90-second YouTube video. The deadline for these phase one applications is February 28, 2017 at 12 noon PST. All pitch videos will be compiled into the LightHouse Media playlist below. As an extra incentive, the blind applicant who creates the most popular YouTube video, will secure themselves a spot as a coveted spot as a Holman Prize finalist, to be interviewed this spring by our esteemed committee. Learn more about the submissions process here, and watch our intro video below:

“We recognize that asking a blind person to upload a video may challenge some people’s ideas of what blind people are capable of — of what blind people can or should do,“ says LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin, “The video uploading and later public speaking will certainly require creativity, and these are the qualities we seek to encourage with the Holman Prize. These are the types of people we want to apply.” 

Semifinalists will be notified in March and go through a formal application process, after which finalists will be notified and a winner will be selected by a committee of leaders, thinkers and explorers from throughout the blind world. We expect the Holman Prizewinners to start their projects in Fall 2017 and they will be recognized at the Holman Prize Gala in 2018.

Follow the Holman Prize on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Visit holmanprize.org for more information on how to Buy Instagram followers.

30 Years of Service: LightHouse’s Kathy Abrahamson Honored by the City of San Francisco

“It’s easy to find Kathy; just follow her laugh,” Bryan Bashin, LightHouse’s CEO, jokes when reflecting on what makes Kathy Abrahamson, our Director of Rehabilitation Services, so special. Kathy’s laugh, which travels through our office like a whippoorwill’s song, is always a welcome greeting to her many admiring colleagues.

On October 6th, 2016, Kathy celebrated her 30-year anniversary at the LightHouse, making her both a veteran at our agency and a role model for blindness professionals across her field. Here at the LightHouse, we all gathered to applaud Kathy, as she was presented with a certificate of honor from the City of San Francisco.

Kathy’s journey at the LightHouse started in 1986, when she was hired as Recreation Coordinator at the LightHouse’s Western Addition location on Buchanan Street. Former board member Gil Johnson knew Kathy from several years as a camp counselor at Enchanted Hills, where she had already proven her abilities as a teacher. Gil tells us, “You know how it is with Kathy, once you meet her, you never forget her vibrancy and passion. When we had a position open up, I knew we needed to hire her.”

“Enchanted Hills Camp was a natural place for me to start because of my background in Therapeutic Recreation and my values of equal access to recreation and play – a perfect fit with the goals of Enchanted Hills Camp,” says Kathy. “Working as the Aquatics Area Leader drew on my strengths in teaching swimming and water aerobics. My years at Enchanted Hills Camp including being the Assistant Director; summer volunteer, then back to Director when I came to the LightHouse full time in 1986. Enchanted Hills has been a reoccurring theme for me and the team I work with in providing training and connection to community.”

“She has such enthusiasm for helping people,” Gil Johnson continues. “She also has a positive view of people. Kathy makes everyone feel welcome, important, valuable, and worthy of living the life they dream about living.”

Anita Aaron, LightHouse’s Executive Director from 1990 to 2010, tells us: “Kathy is committed to good leadership and stewardship.  She never loses track of the fact that the mission of the LightHouse is to serve people experiencing vision loss and other disabilities.” Kathy had been at LightHouse for four years prior to Anita becoming the Executive Director. Kathy’s laugh made an impression on Anita, too. “I used Kathy’s wonderful, infectious laugh to orient myself when at EHC or LightHouse,” she says. “I’d stand still for a moment wondering where she was, and as expected, I’d hear that laugh. Like a beacon, I’d head towards it.”

Kathy is used to being known for her laugh. “I have been fortunate to work with students and colleagues who find pure enjoyment in their success and work,” she says. “Humor is a connector.”

Over the years, Kathy has influenced the very ethos of LightHouse’s mission to effectuate the equality and self-reliance of people who are blind or visually impaired. Anita notes, “Over the years Kathy has been a camp counselor, taken groups of individuals who are blind on every kind of trip imaginable, coordinated camp sessions for individuals who were both deaf and visually impaired, planned and directed job development and placement programs at the LightHouse funded by DOR, and assisted in the design of two new locations for the LightHouse.” Though Kathy maintains that all of her successful projects were collaborations with others, it’s nonetheless clear how many lives she has affected.

Kathy has been involved with the development of dozens of programs at LightHouse, something she could never have done without the amazing team of teachers we have assembled at the LightHouse.  Some of those programs included: Access to the Environment, providing a Guide and a Ride to hiking, camping and travel, bay area wide training in Fairfield, Dixon and Santa Rosa in the mid 90’s, an evolution of Cohort style classroom training for persons who are blind and low vision, introducing adults new to blindness and the possibilities of independence and meeting peers (now called Changing Vision, Changing Lives immersion training).

As the needs in blindness changed, Kathy helped ensure that evolving needs were met. She was part of the team that provided acceptance, support and training to San Franciscans who were losing vision due to HIV/AIDS. In the early ‘90s the LightHouse and the Resnick Center were both supporting a need that was not being addressed. With the merge of LightHouse and the Resnick Center in 1993, Kathy and her team developed a comprehensive blindness-centered response to HIV/AIDS, securing funding from the City of San Francisco to ensure timely and compassionate access to emotional support and training in orientation and mobility and independent living skills.

As a zealous problem solver, Kathy continued to lead the LightHouse down paths few agencies are willing or able to travel. In 1992, Kathy re-started a deaf-blind program that had been strong (especially at Enchanted Hills Camp), in the early ‘80s. Through collaboration with the Helen Keller National Center, the LightHouse became an Affiliate which enabled us to reach a small segment of our community, one that often finds it incredibly difficult to receive the specialized services they require, namely dual access methods that consider both deafness and blindness. With Kathy’s guidance and the support of Deaf-Blind Specialist Sook Hee Choi, our deaf-blind program has grown to cover the entire state of California, providing Californians who are deaf-blind with communications technology that keeps them connected to their communities. “Never did I think that a basic sign language connection during my first summer at Enchanted Hills camp would provide me the opportunity to not only improve my ASL, but more importantly, work with forward thinking colleagues, most of whom are deaf, to develop such a program,” says Kathy. Today, that program has grown into a $1 million operation giving deaf-blind Californians free access equipment and technology training.

“Kathy may be our biggest ally in trying to establish additional deaf-blind services on this coast, from statewide Support Service Provider (SSP) services to residential training,” said Cathy Kirscher, Hellen Keller National Center regional representative for California, who awarded Kathy the 2015 National Robert J. Smithdas Deaf-blind Advocacy Award.

In addition to starting the deaf-blind program, Kathy is proud of being a being a part of the team that is responsible for collaborating with Dr. Robert Greer and the UC Berkeley Low Vision Clinic over ten years ago, which continues now under the direction of Dr. Marlena Chu in San Francisco. This collaboration established a connection between low vision and acquisition of essential blindness and low vision training. In 1999, Kathy spearheaded the  the LightHouse Older Individuals Who Are Blind Program, a program funded by the California State Department of Rehabilitation. Some of the initial funding established our San Rafael, Berkeley and Eureka offices. “Kathy put her whole heart into establishing LightHouse satellites because she knew we could reach more people who need our services,” says Gil. “Because of her hard efforts, we are able to serve people in Humboldt, Del Norte, Solano County and other far-flung and rural areas where few services exist.”

Kathy has also spearheaded an increase in our services to the Spanish-speaking blind community. Since the program’s beginning, it has adapted to meet the needs of persons 55 and older who are new to blindness and low vision. “While I am so proud of the work I have been involved in at the LightHouse, seeing the OIB program flourish, and seeing our team connect older students to continued independence (especially during the beginning of this century with increased numbers of persons with Age-Related Macular Degeneration) has been truly satisfying,” says Kathy. ” While the OIB program continues in San Francisco, Marin, Humboldt and Del Norte counties, the increased services to Alameda county will make a difference in connecting with new students.”

In recent years, Kathy and her team conceived our impactful “Changing Vision Changing Lives” (CVCL) blindness skills immersion program when she noticed a gap in services. “If you need to learn blindness skills you have two options: 1) you can take classes here and there in one-hour increments, or 2) you can steal away to a blindness skills center for many months and learn everything at once,” she says. “For some people, option one isn’t the right fit because it can take many months to learn several basic blindness skills. Similarly, option two is wonderful if you have the time and resources, but many people can’t put their life and family’s life on hold for several months.”

‘Changing Vision Changing Lives’ is a one week overnight intensive blindness skills training session with the goal of rapidly teaching people the critical skills they need to be safe, be confident, and develop their independence. Learn more about our Nov/December Changing Visions Changing Lives classes here. At CVCL, Kathy has ensured instruction in the skills people could learn in a supportive and professional environment: from receiving mobility training upon arrival to effectively operating an iPhone.

Kathy has made an enormous and lasting impact in the blindness community, especially in California, which is why it’s of little surprise to us that San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee, on behalf of the City and County of San Francisco, recognized Kathy with a Certificate of Honor “for a distinguished thirty year career as a skills teacher and Director of Rehabilitation Services.” We all agree with Gil when he says, “The best decision I ever made was hiring Kathy.” And Tony Fletcher, Director of Enchanted Hills Camp, tells us: “In many ways, when the community comments about the display of teamwork, passion and humor that our staff demonstrates in our services, I think of Kathy setting that tone for all of us.”

Kathy, from all of us at the LightHouse, thank you for your constant dedication to serving others, and for always reminding us to share a hearty, knee-slapping laugh, every chance we get.

Our New Building

Overlooking San Francisco’s UN Plaza and with sweeping views of City Hall and downtown, the new LightHouse for the Blind building is a singular architectural landmark – unprecedented in the world of blindness and social service organizations. Complete with short-term residential facilities, extensive training and community spaces, and state-of-the-art technological advancements, the New LightHouse is worth a visit. Below are several pieces that tell the story of our new building and its design.

Photo: people training at LightHouse

Architectural Record:  “LightTouch: An agency employs subtle design strategies to better serve its visually impaired clientele.”

Every element of the design—from circulation to lighting to mechanical equipment and the tactile and acoustic properties of surface materials—was shaped to the advantage of users whose visual challenges and compensating skills span an enormous range. The perceptions that LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin most wanted to upend were those of new clients and their supporters. “Bryan wanted a space that was uplifting, not a woe-is-me experience,” said Mark Cavagnero, whose San Francisco–based firm was selected by a design committee as the architect for the $13 million project. Even so, the environment couldn’t be so “soft and gentle,” says Cavagnero, that clients would be unprepared for the hard corners of the real world. The LightHouse also had an extremely unusual resource in Chris Downey, a successful Bay Area architect who became blind during an operation to remove a brain tumor in 2008. Downey, who immediately decided to continue in his chosen career, joined the LightHouse board in 2009 and is now its president.

Slack profiles great places to work: “Designing for everyone: How the new LightHouse for the Blind models building for inclusivity”

The cement floor is intentionally bare so that the sound of footsteps falling and canes tapping informs you that the space is full of life. If your hand were to graze against the furniture in the lobby, the material would be soft to the touch, as would the smooth wooden handrail to guide you up and down the staircase.

Arup group: “Design by ear: The New LightHouse for the Blind” –Our acoustical designers on how they made the building sonically beautiful:

Woodworking Camp

This camp session will touch on wood turning, hand tool work and an introduction to power tools. We’ll learn how to measure accurately without sight, using click rules, gauge blocks, Vernier calipers and talking tape measures. We’ll talk about wood types and construction techniques. We will learn when to glue, when to nail and when to use screws. We’ll also touch on finishing techniques.

 

Horse Camp

This camp is for visually impaired horseback riders between the ages of 16 and 24 years old, with no secondary disabilities. Moreso than just riders, though, this is for those teens and young adults who are thinking of caring for horses, owning them or possibly entering into a career involving horses, but perhaps have been unsure how their eyesight might affect this decision (hint: it’s entirely possible!). That said, horse camp is geared toward those with a bit of riding experience. Experience caring for horses is not required. Campers must have independent mobility skills to participate. This program is run by Diane Starin, a Living Skills Instructor at the Society for the Blind in Sacramento, California.

$300 Session Fee

Music Camp

Students will learn the hallmarks of blind musicianship including individual performance practice, song writing, collaboration in an ensemble, and stage etiquette and performance in a house band. We’ll work with braille music and gain proficiency in accessible recording. Students will be coached on a range of instruments including vocals, guitar, drums/percussion, and piano, and gain valuable insight from guest speakers. We’ll finish off the weekend with a performance.

 

Teen Camp

Our summertime teen session is the crown jewel of Enchanted Hills Camp, where the most dynamic and charged bonds occur. Teens get to ride horses, learn woodworking, take riflery, and perform. What’s particularly special about teen session is how most of the Counselors and CITs are blind or visually impaired themselves, and many have attended camp as young teens. Here teens in grades 9 through 12 will experience all the offered youth camp activities and special events, including the STEM track which is built into this year’s teen timeline. Additionally, campers will participate in activities geared toward building leadership abilities and setting goals for the future.

 

STEAM Camp

This fairly new and exciting science program at Enchanted Hills has an overarching goal of exposing students from the ages of 11-14 who are blind and visually impaired to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM). Students will take part in hands-on, accessible, and innovative activities; which includes computing, robotics, biology, and more. Students will also take home some pretty cool give-a-ways.

$60 Session Fee (free for those attending the youth session)

Youth Camp

Youth in grades 3 through 8 will participate in a variety of programs; including campfires, swimming, horseback riding, drama, arts and crafts, and adaptive sports. Campers are encouraged to explore new challenges independently with their new friends. Campers will gain greater understanding of their differences in eyesight and build self-confidence as they bond with others with shared experience.