Message from the CEO

Browse a collection of messages from Chicago Lighthouse President and CEO Dr. Janet Szlyk on what is happening around The Lighthouse.

Redefining 20/20 Vision

In 2019, we made remarkable strides toward a world of greater accessibility and inclusion for the people we serve.

But as we reflect on that progress, our hearts are with everyone in our community and around the world who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We’re particularly thankful for the heroic efforts of healthcare workers working tirelessly to save lives every day.

This crisis is unlike anything that we have lived through. We are in uncharted territory, and we are all doing the best we can, with the resources we have, to take care of ourselves and the ones we love.

Imagine facing this crisis without vision. This is where The Chicago Lighthouse has stepped in to allay fears and provide the support needed to the blind community.
Our commitment to providing excellent care and game-changing opportunities remains steadfast. As you browse these pages, we hope you’ll agree that our mission is more important than ever.

Through the extraordinary generosity of our donors and the tireless efforts of our staff, clinicians and volunteers, we change lives every day. We share the stories of our clients and patients with profound gratitude—and abundant hope for the future of our organization.

As we face a new set of challenges in a rapidly changing world, we know that partnerships are crucial.

Last spring, we renewed our contract with UI Health and opened a brand-new, state-of-the-art customer care center—the latest expansion of our social enterprise operations. We’re able to employ more people and show other organizations that an inclusive, accessible workplace is not just possible, but profitable. This idea appears to be catching on.

We’re working together at every level of government and business to advocate for our community—and to celebrate it, too.

In September, we hosted Center Stage, a free, accessible concert at Navy Pier that featured brilliant entertainers with and without disabilities from Chicago and around the country. Their performances exemplified our message of how access and inclusion enriches us all.

These are just a few of the highlights from 2019 you’ll read about here.

However, we also experienced great loss in the past year. We mourn the passing of several dear friends whose investments in The Lighthouse have helped build our organization into the vibrant community of care it is today. The legacies of Larry Broutman and Bill Conaghan, as well as Charles and Margery Barancik, will be felt in our halls and in our hearts for many years to come.

Moving forward, we see The Lighthouse as a center for reinvention. In this report, we’re sharing how we’re redefining possibility through inclusive opportunities and care—and even redefining what it means to be blind, visually impaired or disabled through technology and research that level the playing field for our community.

On behalf of our team and all those we serve, thank you for your support and for your commitment to help sustain our mission in 2020 and beyond.
Wishing you all health and safety,

Janet P. Szlyk, Ph.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer

Low Vision Research Laboratory

Research & Publications by Dr. Szlyk

Interviews with Dr. Szlyk