Lighthouse Bids President Obama Farewell

Barack Obama, Joel Kaplan and Jim Kesteloot

Then Senator Obama tours The Lighthouse with then Board Chair Dr. Joel Kaplan (center) and Executive Director Jim Kesteloot.

The Chicago Lighthouse joins the nation in bidding farewell to President Obama, whose two terms in the White House end on January 20.
The Lighthouse hosted the future president when he was still a U.S. Senator from Illinois back in September 2005.  Then Board Chair Dr. Joel Kaplan and Executive Director Jim Kesteloot escorted Senator Obama around the agency, pointing out our clock program and the need to secure employment opportunities for people who are visually impaired.
Obama was impressed and asked his staff to contact all the federal agencies to make sure that they were purchasing clocks and other items from organizations like The Lighthouse.
Upon assuming office, the new president appointed Mr. Kesteloot to a post on the U.S. AbilityOne Commission®.  The Commission is responsible for administering the AbilityOne® Program, one of the largest employment sources for Americans who are blind or have significant disabilities.   Mr. Kesteloot was elected Chairperson in 2015.
Reaffirming his administration’s commitment to  improving public access for people with disabilities and protecting them from discrimination, President Obama  is the first chief executive to utilize a disability adviser.  In 2010, he appointed to the post Chicagoan Kareem Dale, who is blind and a protégé of retired Cook County Judge Nicholas Pomaro, a former Lighthouse Board member who previously served as director of The Lighthouse’s Kane Legal Clinic.
The Lighthouse showed its appreciation to the President by making him a special clock adorned with the Presidential seal and sent to his attention at the White House.

Barack Obama visits with several Lighthouse clients

During his visit in September, 2005, then Senator Obama poses with members of the seniors program. He would also lead the agency in a stirring rendition of “Happy Birthday” in honor of The Lighthouse’s centennial anniversary.

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