About the LightHouse Board
- Chris Downey – Chair
- Lisa Carvalho – 1st Vice President
- Luciana Profaca PhD. – 2nd Vice Chair
- Michael Shebanek – 3rd Vice Chair
- Gena Harper – Treasurer
- Geoffrey Murry – Secretary
- Laura Allen
- Jennison Mark Asuncion
- Michael Dellar
- Eric Mah
- Michael Nuñez
- Sharon Sacks
- Yue-Ting Siu, TVI, Ph.D.
- Joseph K Chan
- Ahmet Ustunel
Chris Downey – Chair
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.
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.
Luciana C. Profaca, Ph.D. – 2nd Vice Chair
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.
Michael Shebanek – 3rd Vice Chair
Michael Shebanek is veteran of the tech industry with a passion for Accessibility and Digital Inclusion. He led the creation of the VoiceOver screen reader and has served as head of Accessibility for over 25 years (combined) at Apple, Yahoo, and Verizon Media. Mike also happened to be the Product Manager for the original iMac computer and the original iPad More recently Mike, served as head of Accessibility for Verizon Media where he was responsible for product and workplace accessibility and founded (or co-founded) pioneering industry projects such as Teach Access, the Disability Collection, and XR Access.
Mike holds several technology patents, is an author, and often a guest lecturer. He holds a degree in Computer Science from California State University, Fullerton.
Gena Harper – Treasurer
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.
Geoffrey Murry – Secretary
Geoffrey Murry is a native of Northern California and has lived in San Francisco on and off since 1993, although his love affair with the City began long before then. Geoffrey is an attorney, practicing real estate litigation with the Ad Astra Law Group in San Francisco; he is qualified to handle virtually any civil dispute related to Real Property. He graduated from University of California at Berkeley and the UCLA School of Law. In his free time, Geoffrey enjoys physical fitness, urban exploration, and cooking and is an avid film buff.
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 joined LinkedIn in 2013, where he is currently their Head of Accessibility Engineering Evangelism. 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 joined the Board in 2015. He 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 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 enjoy helping LightHouse for the Blind expand its reach and provide even greater services to the blind and visually impaired.”
Eric is originally from Stockton, California and now calls San Francisco home. He first came to the Bay Area for university, where he graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. From there, Eric began his career in finance, joining the investment banking division at Goldman Sachs where he advised corporate clients in the financial institution and technology industries. Eric then entered Silicon Valley by way of Google where he joined the treasury department to manage enterprise foreign currency risk. Most recently, Eric was at Uber Technologies where he built out and headed the treasury team focused on global payment acceptance, payment remittance, cash management and corporate finance risk management. Eric is currently on a professional sabbatical.
Aside from his professional life, Eric enjoys spending time with his wife, Jacalyn, and son, Weston, who are his biggest joys. He also is an active member of his church and is passionate about serving his community. Eric is both humbled and inspired to serve on the Board and hopes to contribute to the continuing growth, innovation and heart of the LightHouse.
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.
Mr. Nunez received a California Lawyer of the Year (“CLAY”) Award in 2018, and was named a Northern California Rising Star by Super Lawyers in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
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.
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)
Joseph K. Chan
Mr. Chan rejoined the LightHouse Board in 2018 after serving as Board member from 2005 to 2015. He also served as Board Treasurer from 2009 to 2015 and Chair of the Finance and Investment committees during this period. He retired in 2009 from the Association of Bay Area Governments after serving 26 years as Chief Financial Officer. Being visually impaired with Retinitis Pigmentosa, Mr. Chan wants to offer his expertise in fiscal management to benefit the blind and visually impaired community. He is a CPA and holds an MBA degree from the University of Wisconsin—Madison.
Ahmet Ustunel is a Teacher of the Visually Impaired at the San Francisco Unified School District. He enjoys teaching Braille, Assistive Technology and Living Skills to support students in achieving their dreams. He joined the board of the LightHouse because he believes in the power of organizations led by blind people, to create opportunities for blind communities, and transform public perception of blindness. Originally from Turkey, Ahmet won the Holman Prize for Blind Ambition in 2017 and was the first Blind person to kayak solo from Asia to Europe, crossing the Bosphorous Strait. You can read more about Ahmet’s journey at www.theblindcaptain.com.