George Abbott stands outside, smiling and holding a white cane. Behind him is a blue building with large letters reading, We are thrilled to announce, along with Chairman of the Board of The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. Jude Johnson, that Senior Vice President George Abbott will succeed President and CEO, Cindy Watson, and will assume the new position on August 1, 2021.

George Abbott and the Lighthouse

George’s first involvement with the Lighthouse was as a board member on the Lighthouse Board of Trustees from 2014 to 2018. In 2020, George joined the Lighthouse Strategic Leadership Team to oversee Employee and Community Services, Philanthropy, Marketing and Communications, Government Relations, and Human Resources. “George has proven himself to be a strategic, effective, and inspiring leader. He has solid applicable work experience positioning him extremely well to lead the Lighthouse, a passion for the mission, a vision for an impactful path forward, and a collaborative style to help us reach ambitious goals. We are thrilled he has accepted the position as President and CEO. The Board of Trustees looks forward to having a long, enjoyable, and productive relationship with George Abbott,” states Jude.

“I am incredibly excited to work with such a dedicated board, an outstanding Strategic Leadership Team, amazing Lighthouse employees locally and across the country, as well as with all of our partners and supporters,” says George. “Together we will increase the number of diverse and meaningful employment opportunities, and empower individuals who are blind, DeafBlind, and blind with other disabilities to lead productive and fulfilling lives. I look forward to the Lighthouse building stronger connections with the communities in which we operate. The future of The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. is exciting and bright!”

George Abbott’s History

George was born blind due to under-developed optic nerves, which fueled his interest in the blindness arena. He earned a Bachelor of Science in finance with a minor in economics, a Master of Science in Education in Rehabilitation Teaching of Blind Adults from Northern Illinois University, as well as a certificate in nonprofit management from the University of Illinois – Chicago.

George first started his career as a rehabilitation instructor at the Idaho Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Boise, ID where he taught a variety of independent living and communications skills, before becoming the supervisor of the state’s residential training center. Later, George returned to the Chicago area to become a Computer Access Training Specialist for the Department of Veterans Affairs Central Blind Rehabilitation Center at Hines Hospital.

George then joined The Hadley School for the Blind, starting as a distance education instructor, access technology technical support specialist, and consulting on Hadley’s first online course. In 2001, George became the Dean of Educational Programs and Instruction, overseeing Hadley’s 34 faculty members and more than 10,000 students. He eventually became Vice President of Development and Communications, and then Vice President of Education.

In May of 2011, George became a Program and Management Analyst for the Veterans Health Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), helping to ensure eLearning and other electronic content disseminated throughout the VA met Section 508 accessibility requirements.

In 2012, George joined the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) as the Director of the eLearning Center, and was later promoted to Director of AFB Press and Professional Development. There he oversaw the development of textbooks used in over 40 university programs to prepare personnel to work with blind children and adults. He also oversaw the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, the lead peer-reviewed journal on blindness and low vision in the U.S. In 2016, George was added to AFB’s Senior Leadership Team and in 2017 he was promoted to Chief Knowledge Advancement Officer, with primary responsibilities for developing and implementing employment initiatives to improve job opportunities and career advancement for people who are blind or visually impaired, as well as coordinating the annual AFB Leadership Conference.

The entire Lighthouse Strategic Leadership Team, as well as employees across the country, are confident in George’s experience and capabilities to lead the Lighthouse into even greater endeavors, paving the way for future generations of opportunity for people who are blind, DeafBlind, and blind with other disabilities.

We’re Leaders in Blind Employment – View Our Open Positions and Apply Today!

The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. transforms the lives of people who are blind, Deafblind, and blind with other disabilities. We are leaders in blind employment. Through employment opportunities, we are a catalyst for empowerment. We foster self-confidence and instill a life changing affirmation that independence is possible. From our expertise in cutting-edge technology to our understanding of mobility, we help people who are blind, Deafblind, and blind with other disabilities live fulfilling lives.