Finding Non-Traditional Leaders in Your Community

By Doug Eadie

"It’s great to meet you at last!” Turning around and seeing Virginia for the first time, I was taken aback. “She is blind, isn’t she?” I thought to myself. “Of course she is, you idiot, there’s her guide dog at her side.” But for a couple of seconds, seeing her radiant smile, her bright blue eyes looking directly at me, her outstretched hand, I wasn’t sure.

This account of my first meeting with Virginia Jacko in September 2006 appears in the opening pages of a book that we have co-authored and which is being published this month. Titled The Extraordinary Odyssey of a Blind Visionary, it tells the story of Virginia, a visionary leader who just happens to be blind.

Since January 2005, Virginia has been president and CEO of the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. This nonprofit organization provides vocational rehabilitation to adults and a wide range of other services to both adults and children, including art and music education, in Florida’s Dade County.

For around six months, Virginia and I worked closely together as client and consultant to update the governing role of the Lighthouse board and modernize its committee structure. Our book draws on Virginia’s story to provide readers with practical guidance in overcoming personal and professional barriers on the way to a more vision-driven, fulfilling life.

And what a story it is.

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