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.

The Impact of Social Enterprises

Dear Friends,

Did you know we have been helping people who are blind or visually impaired find work for 100 years? In 1922, The Chicago Lighthouse launched its first employment program, providing jobs for clients in our building. Among the opportunities was assembling telephone terminal plates and switchboards; in just four minutes, our employees could bring together 129 different pieces to create a finished product.

The Chicago Tribune called that work a “miracle,” but we have always known better. Over the past 100 years, we have helped countless individuals find purpose, meaning, and community through employment. We have never been surprised by our clients’ abilities. Rather, we have been surprised by the continued resistance to including people with disabilities in the workforce.

According to Accenture, increasing the employment of people with disabilities by a mere 1% would add $25 billion to the U.S. GDP.¹ That figure is both shocking and exciting. Shocking because it shows how far we have to go to increase access and inclusion in the workplace, and exciting because we know our efforts creating jobs for Veterans and people with disabilities can have a major effect on not just our community, but the entire country.

When organizations like UI Health, The Illinois Secretary of State’s Office and Howard Brown Health contract with The Chicago Lighthouse, they are demonstrating a commitment to inclusion in the workplace and encouraging others to follow suit. We are grateful to have them as partners as we move into our second century of helping our clients build confidence and independence through meaningful employment.


¹ “Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage.” Accenture Research, in partnership with Disability:IN and The American Association of People with Disabilities. 2018.

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

Low Vision Research Laboratory

Research & Publications by Dr. Szlyk

Interviews with Dr. Szlyk

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