About the LightHouse Board
- Chris Downey – President
- Joshua A. Miele, Ph.D. – Immediate Past President
- Lisa Carvalho – 1st Vice President
- Gena Harper – 2nd Vice President
- Geoffrey Murry – Secretary
- Laura Allen
- Jennison Mark Asuncion
- Michael Dellar
- Jerry Kuns
- Michael Nuñez
- Luciana Profaca, Ph.D.
- Sharon Sacks
- Michael Shebanek
- Yue-Ting Siu, TVI, Ph.D.
Chris Downey – President
Christopher Downey, RA, (www.arch4blind.com) is an architect, planner and consultant who lost his sight in 2008. Today, he is dedicated to creating more helpful and enriching environments for the blind and visually impaired. Whether working as a planning and programming team member or as a client representative, he draws on his unique perspective as a seasoned architect. His 20-year career has encompassed a broad range of award-winning projects, from custom residences to the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth, MN, and MIT’s Rotch Architectural Library. Chris joined the LightHouse Board in 2009.
Joshua A. Miele, Ph.D. – Immediate Past President
Joshua Miele is an alumnus of the University of California at Berkeley, where he received his BA in Physics and his Ph.D. in Psychoacoustics. He is currently a Research Scientist at The Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute’s Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (www.ski.org) in San Francisco, where he has made major contributions to tactile map technology, auditory/haptic display research, audio/tactile graphics techniques and Braille technologies (http://JAMonAT.blogspot.com).
Josh is an active member of the Bay Area disabled community. In addition to his current position on the LightHouse Board of Directors, he has served on the boards of both the Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP) and the Ed Roberts Campus (ERC). He has also been a member of the City of Berkeley’s Commission on Disability and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Elderly and Disabled Advisory Committee. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and two young children.
Lisa Maria Carvalho – 1st Vice President
Glendale, California native Lisa Maria Carvalho obtained her law degree at UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) in 1992. She is on a professional sabbatical after 21 years of law practice in San Francisco, where she focused on management-side employment litigation and counseling, as well as trusts and estates litigation and fiduciary counseling.
Lisa learned of the LightHouse from LightHouse Board President Josh Miele – their sons played on the same Little League team. Lisa believes that given her leadership and professional experience, she has a lot to contribute to our Board, even as she is personally enriched by what the LightHouse community can teach her and her family as they address her legally-blind mother’s progressing macular degeneration. Lisa lives in Berkeley with her husband, Dave Mager, and her two sons. Beyond her professional life, Lisa enjoys food and wine, Craftsman architecture and design, and Macanese history and ethnography.
Gena Harper – 2nd Vice President
Gena Harper is a Senior Vice President-Wealth Management, Senior Investment Management Consultant and a CIMA® at Morgan Stanley in Oakland, California. Born with glaucoma, Gena is totally blind in one eye and can see very little with the other. Nevertheless, she became a financial consultant at 22, and is one of the few blind people in the investment industry in the United States.
Gena has served on the Glaucoma Research Foundation Board and also on the Governor’s Committee for the Employment of Disabled Persons. She is past President of the Downtown Berkeley YMCA and is a Junior Girl Scout troop leader for fourth and fifth graders. In 1995, Gena became the first recipient of The Glaucoma Foundation Award of Merit. Her passions include downhill skiing, rock climbing and tandem cycling. She lives in San Ramon with her daughter, Sarena; son, Shiya; and three dogs, Coco, Bella and guide dog Asia.
Gena joined the LightHouse Board because, she says, “I think I can make a big difference in the lives of blind people by mentoring and setting a good example. I also would like to motivate and inspire others to set big goals and accomplish their dreams, and to know they can become extraordinary people in spite of having a disability of any kind.”
Investment Management Consultants Association, Inc. owns the marks CIMA®, Certified Investment Management AnalystSM (with graph element)®, and Certified Investment Management AnalystSM.
Laura Allen is the Accessibility Program Manager for the Chrome and Chrome OS teams at Google. She collaborates with engineers, designers, product managers, and researchers to make the Chrome family of products accessible and usable across platforms, for people of all abilities. She also leads various accessibility workshops and trainings around the United States for teachers of the visually impaired, advocacy organizations, and special education classrooms. In addition, Laura manages Google’s presence at major accessibility conferences, as she believes that connecting with the community and gathering hands-on feedback is critical.
Laura also represents Google in the Teach Access organization, where various technology companies and higher education institutions come together to drive the inclusion of accessibility in core Computer Science, Design, and Human Centered Interaction programs. Due to her personal experience with low vision since age 10, she believes that technology has more power now than ever to transform lives, and progressing accessibility has become her true passion.
Prior to her role in accessibility, Laura worked as an Account Manager in Google’s Large Customer Sales division where she advised business-to-business technology companies on their advertising and marketing strategies. For her undergraduate education, Laura studied International Business, Marketing, and Music at Georgetown University.
Jennison Mark Asuncion
Originally from Montreal, Canada, Jennison Asuncion is LinkedIn’s Engineering Manager directing their digital accessibility efforts and managing a team of software engineers supporting these initiatives. Previously, he spent almost seven years as a member of the Royal Bank of Canada’s IT Accessibility Team. Outside of his professional and scholarly pursuits, in 2012, Mr. Asuncion. co-founded the annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD ) to raise awareness of digital accessibility issues that people with disabilities face.
In 2012, Mr. Asuncion was recognized jointly by the Royal Bank of Canada and the Government of Canada with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the medal acknowledges significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.
For over a dozen years, Mr. Asuncion volunteered with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). Mr. Asuncion also sat on the CNIB’s Winston Gordon Award for Technological Advancement in the Field of Blindness and Visual Impairment Selection Committee from 2005 to 2013, serving as its Chair in his final year. Mr. Asuncion served on the Board of Directors from 2006 to 2010 for Ski for Light (SFL) an organization that offers cross-country skiing for people who are blind. He obtained a B.A. (with distinction) in Political Science, and a M.A. in Educational Technology, both from Concordia University in Montreal.
Michael Dellar, new to the Board in 2015, grew up in Los Angeles where his mother was a supporter of the Foundation for Junior Blind. He received his BS magna cum laude and his MBA from the University of Southern California. He joined the Clorox Company in 1970 and moved up through the ranks to manage Clorox Bleach, new products and to ultimately become Director of Marketing of the Company’s restaurant division (Emil Villa’s Hick’ry Pit). As Vice President of San Francisco’s Spectrum Foods restaurants he helped develop and manage a collection of some of the Bay Area’s finest eateries. In 1989 Michael co-founded the award-winning Lark Creek Restaurant Group, and today is CEO of that Company and Principal of One Market Restaurant and neighboring Wine & Wall.
Over the years Michael has been active on a variety of for-profit and non-profit boards, including OpenTable, Gelato Classico, the California Film Institute (Mill Valley Film Festival), the Oakland Symphony, Copia (The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts), The California Restaurant Association, San Francisco Travel, The Smithsonian Institution Food Project and others. “Now,” notes Dellar “I am looking forward to helping LightHouse for the Blind expand its reach and provide even greater services to the blind and visually impaired.”
Jerry Kuns is a Technology Specialist at the California School for the Blind in Fremont, California, where he teaches the use of information management hardware and software tools for people who are visually impaired. He has held a variety of jobs in rehabilitation and employment development serving people who are blind or visually impaired. He has also held various positions in management and sales in firms providing technology equipment and software to people with vision impairments, and has consulted with employers in affirmative action, reasonable accommodation and adaptive equipment for employment of people with special needs.
Jerry says he is devoting time on the LightHouse Board “to ensure the continuance of appropriate services and programmatic content to further the potential of living effectively with vision loss.”
Michael Nunez is an attorney at Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld, LLP. He works on complex litigation and prelitigation matters, including class actions, with a particular focus on ensuring that people with disabilities obtain equal access to government services, technology, transportation, and public accommodations. Mr. Nunez also has experience representing clients in employment discrimination and white collar criminal defense matters.
Mr. Nunez is a graduate of Stanford Law School and earned his B.A. at Stanford University. Prior to joining RBGG, he was a Staff Attorney at Disability Rights Advocates, a national non-profit impact litigation center.
In his free time, Mr. Nunez enjoys distance running, ballroom dancing, cycling, and rowing crew. To learn more about Mr. Nunez’s practice, visit RBGG’s website.
Luciana C. Profaca, Ph.D.
Luciana C. Profaca, Ph.D., joined the LightHouse Board of Directors in 2012. She served as the Chief Deputy Director for the California Department of Rehabilitation. She was appointed to this position on December 20, 2007 by Governor Schwarzenegger.
Dr. Profaca worked for the Department of Rehabilitation since 1972, and over the years performed the duties of a rehabilitation counselor, supervisor, district administrator, and a deputy director. She retired from state service in December 2010. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from San Francisco State University in 1970; a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling from San Francisco State University in 1972; and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies in 2000.
Dr. Sharon Sacks
Dr. Sacks is recently retired from her post as Superintendent of the California School for the Blind. During her tenure, Dr. Sacks led a staff of 150 and promoted education excellence for students served on campus and through outreach programs throughout the state. Prior to her role as superintendent, Dr. Sacks was the Director of Curriculum, Assessment, & Staff Development at CS. After receiving her doctorate, Sharon coordinated programs, and was a university professor in moderate/sever disabilities at San Jose State University, and programs in visual impairments at California State University, Los Angeles. Dr. Sacks worked as a TVI for eight years as a resource and itinerant teacher prior to assuming leadership positions.
She has conducted research, presented nationally and internationally, and published widely in the areas of social skills instruction for students with visual impairments, psycho-social implications of visual impairment, transition programming for students with visual impairments, and strategies to educate students with visual impairments and multiple disabilities. Dr. Sacks has provided consultation, assessment, and program evaluation services to schools and agencies serving children and adults with visual impairments.
Dr. Sacks is a strong advocate for ensuring quality services for children and adults who are blind or visually impaired through her direct work with families, consumer organizations, and professional organizations. She is the recipient of the Mary K. Bauman Award for Distinguished Service in Education, and a past president of AERBVI.
Yue-Ting Siu, TVI, Ph. D
Ting is a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) and works with students aged birth to 65 with visual impairments, multiple disabilities, and deafblindness. She began teaching as an aide in the Deafblind Program at the Perkins School for the Blind. After receiving her master’s degree and dual credentials in deafblindness and visual impairments at the University of Arizona, Ting worked in NYC as a center and home-based early intervention provider, itinerant TVI, and assistive technology trainer. Currently, she is a part-time itinerant TVI in the Bay area and assistant professor in the Visual Impairment program at San Francisco State University. Ting earned a Ph.D in special education from UC Berkeley where her research focused on use of communities of practice as informal professional development. Her expertise is in developing supports to aid TVIs’ implementation of technology with students. She also provides consulting support to bridge technology development with teachers’ adoption of tools in the classroom. (www.tplus.education)