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Sharon Giovinazzo

An Enchanted Evening Indeed – A LightHouse Gala Recap

An Enchanted Evening Indeed – A LightHouse Gala Recap

It was a star-studded evening at the LightHouse Gala on Saturday, August 19. Our gala attendees showed up dressed to the nines ready to raise funds (and paddles!) for the rebuild and re-imagination of Enchanted Hills Camp.

As guests arrived, they were greeted with champagne and our signature gala cocktail, an Enchantini, as they perused the Silent Auction and caught surprise glimpses of framed legacy Enchanted Hills Camp photos, some dating back to the Rose Resnick days of the 1950s, sprinkled throughout the cocktail reception area in delicate gold frames.

When the doors to the Grand Ballroom opened, our guests were dazzled with twinkling bistro lights, fresh pine garlands adorning the tables and entry ways, and the rejuvenating scent of lush trees and crisp air that instantly transports your senses back to Enchanted Hills Camp. That night, the Westin St. Francis Hotel was the place to be!

LightHouse Gala Committee Co-chairs Kathryn Webster and Laura Allen, and LightHouse CEO Sharon (and dapper guide dog Pilot, dressed in a doggy-tuxedo) began the evening with a warm welcome, thanking our guests and gala sponsors for their time and generosity as we kicked off the evening’s program.

When keynote speaker Rebecca Alexander took the stage, she joyfully led our gala guests in a camp song, bringing the whimsy and silliness of summer camp to 350 audience members as they echoed her back with, “I said a boom-chicka-boom!” Rebecca told her story growing up with Usher Syndrome, her love for summer camp and passion for inclusive and accessible experiences for the blind, low vision, and deafblind community.

EHC Camp Director Tony Fletcher speaks into the microphone on stage

“Summer camps are a place where anyone, regardless of ability, can experience the power of community in nature. But I’m especially delighted to support LightHouse’s efforts to create a world-class facility to serve campers who might otherwise not have access to the confidence-building activities and opportunities Enchanted Hills offers,” says Rebecca.

As Tony Fletcher, EHC Camp Director, took the stage, he told the story of camp—about our start with Rose Resnick in 1950, our strength, and of our deeply-rooted community, then he spoke of the destruction from the 2017 Napa wildfires. A video played on the screen above the stage, and as images of a burnt and devastated redwood forest were shown, Tony told a story of resilience, of courage, and of determination.

As the moving and heartfelt words from Tony Fletcher hung in the air, we kicked off the live auction, led by auctioneer extraordinaire Greg Quiroga. The air became electric as the friendly (although at times, perhaps a bit fierce!) competition brewed in the room and auction paddles shot to the sky! As paddles raised, so did the funds to rebuild a beautiful, accessible, inclusive dream retreat for the blind community!

The evening ended with a beautiful musical performance by visually impaired singer-songwriter, Meghan Downing. As Meghan strummed her guitar, her angelic voice sang melodies reminiscent of the comfort and ease like the end of a perfect Enchanted Hills Camp day, warm and cozy around the campfire.

In total, the gala raised $680,000 for Enchanted Hills Camp! We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the incredible love and support that was shown to EHC and the blind community. We’d like to specially thank Ben Jai for his unbelievably generous donation of $100,000 and a second significant donor who  gave an additional $90,000 to the building of the Redwood Grove Theatre! Accompanied by other special Gold and Silver donors, over $300,000 was raised for the rebuild of the theatre.

The construction of Redwood Grove will begin in mid-fall of this year! As construction of the theatre and other dream projects are underway, we will keep all of our friends, supporters, and campers updated!

As Enchanted Hills Camp approaches our 75th anniversary in 2025, we invite you to imagine the beautiful new space we are creating for generations of blind, low vision and deafblind campers to come. And who knows? The next gala just might take place in the heart of EHC as we celebrate growth, resilience, aspiration, and three quarters of a century of excellence in Summer 2025!

 

Save the Date: Meet the LightHouse CEO, January 27

Save the Date: Meet the LightHouse CEO, January 27

The LightHouse Board of Directors warmly invites all LightHouse Community members to a reception to welcome and celebrate new LightHouse CEO, Sharon Giovinazzo on January 27.
 
After working remotely for 26 months, LightHouse San Francisco employees returned to the office last May. Now it’s time to have our first gathering for LightHouse students and community members in San Francisco since early 2020.
 
There’s no better time than now, with new LightHouse leadership, to reconnect with our community right at our San Francisco headquarters. “After a two-year pause in those in-person touchpoints, we’re eager to bring our community together again. Having a new CEO is icing on the cake,” says Development Project Manager and Welcome Reception organizer Carin Elam.
 
Sharon comes to the LightHouse with nearly 25 years of experience in the blindness field, most recently as President and CEO of World Services for the Blind. Since she joined LightHouse in October, Sharon has been doing a listening & learning tour to learn about the unique needs of the blindness community in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California.
 
What: LightHouse CEO Welcome Reception
Where: Friday, January 27, from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
When: LightHouse San Francisco at 1155 Market, St. 10th Floor
RVSP: To Carin Elam at CElam@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7681
 
Stay tuned for more information about the reception as we get closer to the date.
 
We hope to see you there!

A Letter from LightHouse CEO, Sharon Giovinazzo

A Letter from LightHouse CEO, Sharon Giovinazzo

Dear students, supporters and friends of the LightHouse:
 
Here I am at the end of my third week as CEO of this incredible organization and it’s been a wonderful whirlwind. I arrived in San Francisco before my belongings and my two dogs and hit the ground running. My third day on the job was to attend the grand opening of the LightHouse Sirkin Center in Alameda. This is our newly-built, state-of-the-art light manufacturing facility. Here, the team makes tissue for MRE packets for the military and they blend, fill and ship three lines of disinfectants and cleaners to customers and suppliers all over the country. It was so heartwarming to meet the whole team and many supporters of the LightHouse and our community. I received such a warm welcome.
 
That weekend the truck containing my worldly possessions arrived and I began making a new home for myself and my animals only two blocks away from the LightHouse. I always have chosen to live and work in the same community so that I truly become a part of it and San Francisco is no different.
 
I have spent many productive hours listening to the staff at the LightHouse: hearing about their hopes and dreams for the agency and also for our students and for themselves. I feel so grateful to get to work alongside such a dedicated, qualified and caring workforce.
 
Last Monday was my first chance to visit Enchanted Hills Camp and get to really understand why it’s the true center of everything we do. The imagination and the scope of the Enchanted Hills rebuild effort is truly astounding. I can’t wait until we can all swim in the pool, learn new skills in the blindness training center, hike the trails and fully put the space to its best use.
 
And so, at the end of my third week and coming up to Thanksgiving, I am filled with enormous gratitude for my good fortune to be leading the LightHouse in to its next 120 years. I am grateful to all of you for walking alongside us: taking part in our courses and classes, coming along to our recreational opportunities and being the most important part of our community.
 
Happy Holidays to one and all,
 
Sharon Giovinazzo
LightHouse CEO

LightHouse Welcomes New Chief Executive Officer, Sharon Giovinazzo!

LightHouse Welcomes New Chief Executive Officer, Sharon Giovinazzo!

Sharon Giovinazzo

We are excited to announce that Sharon Giovinazzo has been named as our new  Chief Executive Officer and will be joining us in this role on October 25.

Sharon Giovinazzo brings more than two decades of experience leading organizations dedicated to advocating for and serving the needs of the blind and visually impaired. She will join LightHouse after serving as President and CEO of the World Services for the Blind.

“I am honored to join the leadership team at LightHouse as its new CEO,” said Sharon Giovinazzo. “This organization has a long and successful track record of driving and achieving independence, equality and self-reliance for the community. This commitment to a focused driven mission, impact and success mirrors my own values, and I look forward to working with a dynamic team to advance the organization’s priorities and expand its reach.”

In her new role as CEO of LightHouse, Giovinazzo will be responsible for leading the organization’s dedicated team of blindness advocates, educators, and professionals while growing the value of the organization to its members, donors, sponsors, partners, and other stakeholders. She will drive efforts to promote the independence and equality of the community, while strengthening the organization and its programs.

“We’re pleased that Sharon will join us as CEO of LightHouse,” said Dr Sharon Sacks, LightHouse Board Chair. “Her strategic drive and her long, distinguished career advocating for and guiding the community make her the perfect choice to lead the LightHouse into the next phase of its development. We’re thrilled to welcome her aboard.”

Giovinazzo brings extensive experience in organizational management, strategic planning, community impact, public policy and advocacy. Prior to her role as President and CEO of the World Services for the Blind, she served for nearly a decade in various roles for the Raleigh Lions Clinic for the Blind (RLCB) where she assisted in the development and implementation of the agency’s $34 million budget, including determining staffing and operational needs and expenditures.

Prior to that, during her tenure with National Industries for the Blind (NIB), Giovinazzo is credited with providing the leadership for cultivating and understanding the AbilityOne programs with Congress, Federal Executive Branch Agencies, consumer and commercial organizations concerned with disability policy. Throughout her career, Sharon has been an advocate for public policy in legislative affairs and regulations. Prior to the NIB, she held positions with the Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CABVI) in Utica, NY; was appointed Chair to the State Rehabilitation Council in 2006 and supervised the operations of a DEPMEDS training facility with the US Army.

Sharon Giovinazzo holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Services Management from SUNY Empire State College and a dual master’s as an MSW and an MBA. Additionally, she holds a Certificate of Management in Business Administration from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.

We look forward to welcoming Sharon Giovinazzo to LightHouse  next month!