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LightHouse Staffer Marc Grossman on Moving Forward in his career with Blindness

LightHouse Staffer Marc Grossman on Moving Forward in his career with Blindness

I grew up in Southern California and had a pretty typical childhood filled with adventure and mischief. I was a Boy Scout, participated in sports, and loved learning new things in school. As a teenager, I liked to toss the baseball with the neighborhood boys in front of our houses. Even though nobody recognized it at the time, this was the first clue that something was amiss. If I had dropped the ball and gazed down to look for it, I could only find it if it were in my field of vision. Of course, everybody had the same experience, but we did not know that my field of vision was significantly smaller than the rest of the boys. While the nickname did not stick, I recall some of the kids calling me “eagle eyes” but in retrospect it was not much of a compliment. Since we had no family history of vision problems, we did not think much of it and I continued through the years, especially since I had no trouble seeing printed words in my high school textbooks or the blackboard in the classroom.

During the summer after my freshmen year at college, I came home to spend time with family and friends. While on a road trip with my two best friends, they pointed out that I was consistently not seeing things in my peripheral vision. At first, I just laughed it off but a subsequent visit to a local optometrist confirmed that in fact, I needed to see a specialist. By the end of the summer, I would have endured a full day of testing at a prestigious university medical center and gone home with a diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa. Armed with that knowledge, I merely buried my head in the sand and chose to ignore the doctor’s advice. I was determined to be in the minority of people that don’t go on to lose all of their eyesight. I attribute that stubbornness to being a Taurus and, of course, college kids knowing better than everybody else. I went on to complete my bachelor’s degree, but my university experience was not what I had envisioned. I struggled with my diagnosis and was ill-equipped to handle the emotional aspects. When sharing this new information with my friends and classmates, I encountered disbelief. “You don’t look blind” and other expressions made their way into the conversation and from that time I decided to keep it to myself.

Upon my return to Southern California, I tried to continue hiding my diagnosis. By this point, driving was getting to be a challenge and I found myself crashing into walls and other immovable objects. Fortunately, they were all at low speeds and nobody got hurt. This was in the 1990s before there was a robust transit network in Los Angeles. So, I moved to New York City where the streets were filled with bright yellow taxis, buses to every corner of the five boroughs, and an expansive subway system snaking its way under the city.

As my vision continued to diminish, I decided that I wanted one more adventure before I lost my remaining eyesight. I hopped on a plane and landed in Santiago de Chile. The city was compact and had great transit. I taught English to business executives and made friends from all over the world. It was during this time overseas that I realized that I was not going to avoid blindness and that upon my return it would be in my best interest to seek out services.

I found myself in the office of the New York Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped when a wonderful man named Carlos asked me if I wanted to learn JAWS or ZoomText. I must have looked at him like he was an alien because he burst out laughing. I had no idea what he was talking about, so he started fiddling with the keyboard that sat in front of me. ZoomText was enabled but I was slow at picking it up and not able to follow the focus. Carlos asked to take the keyboard and he made some additional changes. He asked me to put my hands on the keys and before I knew what was going on, I heard a voice talking to me. I had no idea what was going on but minutes later, we were diving into the nuances of the powerful magnifier/screen reader. This began my relationship with accessible technology and catapulted me into my current area of expertise.

After a successful career in sales, I began working for the American Foundation for the Blind. I learned the ins and outs of digital accessibility and started to build relationships with key players in the area of technology. When I moved back to California, I discovered the wonderful people at LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. In addition to learning braille and orientation to a new city, I had the great pleasure of going through the Employment Immersion program where I met [Director of Employment Services] Kate Williams, who would later become a mentor and supervisor. For four years, I crisscrossed northern California working with other people who are blind or have low vision to help them discover the doors that can be opened when they learn how to use assistive technology. Finally, in May 2018, I joined LightHouse as an Employment Specialist where I support jobseekers in their quest to find a career. Together, we work on resumes, cover letters, interviewing, and networking. My favorite area is helping jobseekers address the challenge of disclosing their disability to a potential employer.

As it turns out, going blind was not the end of my adventures. When not at work, I enjoy running and swimming with Achilles International or river rafting and Nordic skiing with Environmental Traveling Companions. I’ve participated in a swim relay across Lake Tahoe with four other blind swimmers and completed the Escape from Alcatraz swim four times without being eaten by a great white shark.

Every month a new cohort of blind jobseekers enters our Employment Immersion Program. To see if the program is right for you, or to sign up lease reach out to the Employment Services department at EiTeam@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7359.

LightHouse Staff

LightHouse Staff

Click here to read in-depth staff profiles of the LightHouse family!

Looking to reach out to any of our wonderful team? Please use our Contact page.

Kathy Abrahamson Portrait
Abrahamson, Kathy
Senior Director, Rehabilitation Services
No profile image available.
Ahlm, Al
Senior Director, Products
LightHouse Industries, Sirkin Center
Sheri Albers
Albers, Sheri
Community Outreach Specialist
Robert Alminana Portrait
Alminana, Robert, MA, COMS
Orientation & Mobility Specialist
Jaclyn Atoigue portrait
Atoigue, Jaclyne
Administrative Assistant
No profile image available.
Avina, Araceli
Blind and Low Vision Specialist
LightHouse Little Learners Program
No profile image available.
Bacon, Debbie, MS/QRP
Rehabilitation Counselor
No profile image available.
Banaag, Simon
Production Assistant
LightHouse Sirkin Center
No profile image available.
Banister, Dreu, MA
Blind and Low Vision Specialist
LightHouse Little Learners Program
No profile image available.
Barden, Jacqueline, JD
Program Assistant
LightHouse Little Learners Program
No profile image available.
Basilio, Elizabeth, MA, COMS
Regional Coordinator
LightHouse Little Learners Program
Bell, Landall
Lead person/Machine Operator
LightHouse Industries, Sirkin Center
No profile image available.
Berry, Emmalaine, MA
Blind and Low Vision Specialist
LightHouse Little Learners Program
Blanks, Scott
Vice President of Programs
Bolus, Sabrina
Adult Programs Coordinator
No profile image available.
Bond, Coralyn
Senior Executive Assistant
Buckwalter, Jeff
Access Technology Trainer
No profile image available.
Calderon, Maritza
Department Coordinator, Media and Accessible Design Laboratory
No profile image available.
Calvello, Gail, TVI
Regional Coordinator
LightHouse Little Learners Program
No profile image available.
Capello, Kacie
Access Technology Trainer
Carlson, Divina
Braille Instructor
Carlson, Jeff, LCSW
Social Worker
No profile image available.
Caro, Cristina
Blind and Low Vision Specialist
LightHouse Little Learners Program
Chand, Gurjinder
Production Assistant
LightHouse Industries, Sirkin Center
No profile image available.
Chapin, Pam, MA, TVI
Program Director
ightHouse Little Learners Program
Sook Hee Choi portrait
Choi, Sook Hee, MA, COMS/CVRT
DeafBlind Employment Specialist
No profile image available.
Colon, Jeffrey
Access Technology Specialist
Brandon Cox Portrait
Cox, W. Brandon, MA COMS
Chief Operating Officer
Damato, Nai
Access Technology Specialist, DeafBlind Program
Christina Daniels Portrait
Daniels, Christina
Manager of Publications
Danette Davis Portrait
Davis, Danette, MA, COMS
Orientation & Mobility Specialist
No profile image available.
Di Grazia, Gina
Orientation & Mobility Specialist
No profile image available.
Diaz Islas, Omar
Production Assistant
LightHouse Industries, Sirkin Center
No profile image available.
DiLeonardo, Annalisa
Assistant Director
Enchanted Hills Camp
No profile image available.
Dittmer, Sanzo Summer
Development
No profile image available.
Dittmer, Summer Sanzo
Capital Campaign Manager
No profile image available.
Dougherty, Sean
Access Technology Specialist
No profile image available.
Edmonds, Scott R.
Production Assistant
LightHouse Sirkin Center
Ben Einstein portrait
Einstein, Ben
Online Inventory Store Associate
Elam, Carin
Development Project Manager
No profile image available.
Elendu, Daniel
Production Assistant
No profile image available.
Ericksen, Callie M.
AmeriCorps VIP Fellow
No profile image available.
Feng, Iris
Controller
Ferrari, Allyson, CVA
Volunteer Manager
Fleming, Antonio
Production Assistant
LightHouse Industries, Sirkin Center
Fletcher, Anthony
Senior Director, Enchanted Hills Camp and Retreat
Flores, Alex
Production Assistant
LightHouse Industries, Sirkin Center
Ghobrial, Wael
Design Specialist III
Sharon Giovinazzo
Giovinazzo, Sharon
CEO
Gomez, Raquel
Manager, Adaptations Store
No profile image available.
Gray, Bobby
Assistant Facilities Manager
Jamey Gump Portrait
Gump, James
Youth Services Coordinator
No profile image available.
Hart, Jeri, ECSE
Blind and Low Vision Specialist
LightHouse Little Learners Program
No profile image available.
Hepsley, Carol
Orientation & Mobility Specialist
LightHouse Marin
Hibbs Ashley
Cook
Holloway, Jennifer
Reworker
LightHouse Industries, Sirkin Center
Jennifer Huey Portrait
Huey, Jennifer, MA, COMS
Orientation & Mobility Specialist
No profile image available.
Hussain, Mohamed
IT Trainee
Katt Jones
Jones, Katt, MA, COMS
Orientation & Mobility Specialist
Greg Kehret
Kehret, Greg
Senior Director, Media and Accessible Design Laboratory
Keita, Sekou
Accountant
King, Elliot
Grant Writer
No profile image available.
Kistler, Daniel A.
Maintenance Manager
Enchanted Hills Camp and Retreat
Klobuchar, John
Production Assistant
LightHouse Industries, Sirkin Center
No profile image available.
Knapik, Michelle
Chief Financial Officer
Kumutat, Lee
Vice President of Communications
Briana Kusuma
Kusuma, Briana
Rehabilitation Services Associate
No profile image available.
Lee, Lisa
Vice President, People and Culture
Dawn Leeflang Portrait
Leeflang, Dawn, MA, COMS, CLVT
Assistant Director, Rehabilitation Services
No profile image available.
Lopez, Joshua
Orientation & Mobility Specialist
No profile image available.
Macias-Larios, Fernando
Access Technology Instructor
No profile image available.
Manley, Justin R.
Production Assistant/Packer
LightHouse Industries, Sirkin Center
McElroy, Dennis
Shipping Clerk
Gail McGaster Portrait
McGaster, Gail
Mentor Trainer
Sarah McIntyre
McIntyre, Sarah, MA, COMS
Orientation & Mobility Specialist
Ethan Meigs Portrait
Meigs, Ethan
Information Technology Technician
Myers, Spencer
Technical and Quality Director
LightHouse Industries, Sirkin Center
No profile image available.
Mynock, Erich
Admin/Executive Assistant
No profile image available.
Novicio, Renato
Janitorial Associate
No profile image available.
O'Malior, Caitlin
Communications Specialist
Olanrewaju, Samuel
Janitorial Associate
No profile image available.
Ortiz, Jefferson
Janitorial Associate
Otsuka, Yatsuke
Production Assistant
LightHouse Industries, Sirkin Center
No profile image available.
Paggi, Timothy
Development Associate
No profile image available.
Paiso, Amel
Production Assistant
LightHouse Industries, Sirkin Center
No profile image available.
Perkins, Chris
Assistant Salesforce Administrator
Pomerantz, Janet
Social Worker
LightHouse North Coast
Bobbi Pompey Portrait
Pompey, Bobbi
Rehabilitation Teaching Specialist
Cheryl Puckett Portrait
Puckett, Cheryl
Reception Team Leader
No profile image available.
Qureshi, Sheharyar
IT Trainee
Production Assistant
No profile image available.
Reid, Madelyn
MadLab Designer
No profile image available.
Reiner, Rebecca
Production Assistant
LightHouse Industries, Sirkin Center
No profile image available.
Rideaux, Kelly
Director of Hospitality
Patti Rose
Rose, Patti
Program Assistant
LightHouse North Coast
Rosenberg, Naomi, M.Arch
Senior Designer, Accessible Media
Scott, Maia
Adult Programs Coordinator
No profile image available.
Sexton, Marvin
Janitorial Associate
No profile image available.
Sheri Albers
Community Outreach Specialist
No profile image available.
Shirendev, Uyanga
Accounting Specialist
No profile image available.
Simpson, William
Registered Nurse
Enchanted Hills Camp and Retreat
Soto, Daisy
Youth Services Coordinator
Esmeralda Soto Portrait
Soto, Esmeralda
Information Concierge
No profile image available.
Spaite, Kristi, CVRT
Regional Coordinator
LightHouse Little Learners Program
No profile image available.
Stewart, Julia M.
Assistant Director, Facilities
No profile image available.
Stewart, Juliet
Director, Employee Relations
No profile image available.
Thienes, Tamara
Reworker
LightHouse Industries, Sirkin Center
No profile image available.
Thompson, Karen, MPH, DrPH
Development Officer
No profile image available.
Umo, Dr. M. Charles
Assistant Director, Quality and Compliance
LightHouse Industries, Sirkin Center
No profile image available.
Videau, Zh’ane
Janitorial Associate
No profile image available.
Vona, Jonathan
Director of Manufacturing
LightHouse Industries, Sirkin Center
No profile image available.
Walters, Ronald
Production Assistant/Forklift Operator
LightHouse Industries, Sirkin Center
Wells, Roland P.
Accounting Associate
LightHouse Industries, Sirkin Center
Frank Welte Portrait
Welte, Frank
Senior Accessible Media and Braille Specialist
No profile image available.
Whitelaw, Jenna
Orientation & Mobility Specialist
No profile image available.
Wiebe, Carol
Orientation & Mobility Specialist
Winchester, Starrly
Customer & Inventory Store Associate
Portrait of Ed Wong. Photo by Sarika Dagar.
Wong, Edward
Employment Specialist
Joshua York portrait
York, Joshua
Senior Director of Facilities

Looking to reach out to any of our wonderful team? Please use our Contact page.