LightHouse Board president Sharon Sacks

Positions Open for Blind Community Members on LightHouse Blind Advisory Panel

The LightHouse Board of Directors wishes to formalize an ongoing independent structure through which it can learn from blind people in our community their current needs for programs and services.  As these needs change, and as COVID and changing demographics reveal new unmet needs, it’s a best practice to operate an independent ongoing advisory platform from which our Board can learn what LightHouse is doing right, and what it needs to improve upon.

Therefore as the Lighthouse Board seeks to broaden its input about community needs for programs and services, it has decided to implement a common best practice in our field by formalizing a Blind Advisory Committee. As the body charged with drafting Lighthouse policy, the Board of Directors seeks the broadest sources of input from staff, partners and stakeholders, including, now, direct input from its community.

This is not a first for the LightHouse: over the years there have been various forms of blind input. For his first four years, CEO Bryan Bashin hosted a “Dialogue with the Director”, an open forum for all community members, which was a direct route for community members to give their opinions. As Lighthouse programs and services have grown it is imperative that new regular methods for our Board of Directors to be informed about current community needs are developed. Coming out of COVID, too, the needs of our community may have changed greatly, and the Board is interested in hearing directly from community members. This will be especially important as Lighthouse conducts its next Strategic Plan process later in 2022.

Sharon Sacks, LightHouse Board Chair shared her vision for the Blind Advisory Committee:

“As Lighthouse programs continue to evolve and grow, its Board of Directors is committed to engaging and receiving input from our greater community. This group will be chaired by members of the LightHouse board in order to effectively transfer communication from the community directly to the Board. The Lighthouse Board encourages individuals who are blind or low vision to apply to participate in this unique and important committee.

The LightHouse Board is looking for people who are in touch with today’s community needs, as well as those who may have experience with new or different programs and services which might be operated by the LightHouse.  The new Blind Advisory Committee will consist of nine people, including two places that will be offered to the National Federation of the Blind of California’s San Francisco chapter and the California Council of the Blind. Applications are encouraged from people who are blind or have low vision living throughout northern California, with a particular emphasis in the in nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.

Those applying will be asked to meet with the Board’s committee to determine who the Board believes would be the best set of individuals to serve, with many considerations including diversity as we ensure that the distribution according to age, intersectional disability, gender, and blindness/low vision be representative of the northern  California demographics of blindness.  LightHouse Blind Advisory Committee members will be asked to serve a term of two years.

The Committee will meet quarterly approximately three weeks before each Board meeting which will be chaired by a LightHouse Board member.  The Board member will report on the Committee’s observations, suggestions, and recommendations at each Board meeting.

Bryan Bashin, CEO of LightHouse said: “Considering the vast changes in service needs and delivery we’ve seen over the pandemic, it’s more important than ever that the Lighthouse stay relevant to the changing needs of the people our mission requires us to serve.  The Board’s new Blind Advisory Committee will help our governing board stay freshly informed about the needs of blind people today.  This committee will complement input the Board gets from their personal and professional networks, as well as Lighthouse staff.  I welcome the input, especially in areas we may not be familiar with.  Lighthouse has existed for 120 years because it is open to new input and change, and the Blind Advisory Committee will help us learn things we may not now know.”

Apply for the Blind Advisory Committee