[Jayhawk-chapter] Envision Hires Former Army Colonel as New CEO
souljourner at sbcglobal.net
Fri Dec 30 22:15:02 CST 2011
Hello, fellow Federationists!
Some of you may know this by now. This article appeared in the Wichita Eagle
a couple of days ago.
I think we should have representatives from NFBKS at this man's office ASAP
after he arrives to begin the process of giving him good information and
hopefully he'll listen and respond as one of us if we get to him early
enough; early and often!
Though I have concerns about his background and mind set, this could be a
real opportunity for us! Onward!
Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011
Posted on Wed, Dec. 28, 2011
Envision hires former Army colonel as CEO
By RICK PLUMLEE
The Wichita Eagle
As a former Army colonel, Frank Clepper is particularly aware of the more
than 50,000 U.S. service members who have sustained eye trauma in combat in
and Iraq. And then there's his youngest daughter, whose eyesight was
threatened by a tumor.
Those were two driving reasons why he has accepted the job as president and
chief executive of Envision, a Wichita-based nonprofit that serves the blind
and visually impaired through a wide means, including rehabilitation
services and employment. He was officially named to the position Tuesday and
assume his new job in February.
"I know what it's like to sit in an emergency room and worry about your kid
and how all that's going to turn out," said Clepper, 54, who will be leaving
his job as chief operational officer for Delta Dental of Kansas.
Sophie Clepper is now a healthy 5-year-old with good eyesight, although she
still has to have regular checkups. When she was about 4 months old, doctors
discovered she had a hemangioma tumor in her right eye. The tumor was
growing aggressively, threatening her other eye.
Three risky steroid injections in the tumor didn't help. That was followed
by six months of chemotherapy, which did work.
"It was a journey," Clepper said. "The good news is everything turned out
But such experiences can send a parent looking for ways to help others with
For Clepper, that opportunity came after Envision's position opened up
earlier this year when long-time CEO Linda Merrill-Parman retired for health
At Envision, he'll head an organization that employs nearly 500 people. It
is the nation's second-leading employer of blind or visually impaired
behind North Carolina's LC Industries, and serves 1,500 patients out of its
rehabilitation center at 610 N. Main.
"We needed a well-rounded individual," said Sam Williams, Envision's board
chairman. "Frank brought that to the table."
Clepper didn't serve in Iraq or Afghanistan, but his ties to the military
have given him a keen awareness for those injured in combat.
He said working at Envision will allow him to "direct efforts toward a group
of individuals specifically dear to my heart - those who have sacrificed far
more than I in service to their country."
A West Point graduate who retired in 2000 after 22 years in the Army, the
East Tennessee native spent five years working for UBS Financial Services in
York City. He had breakfast at the World Trade Center the morning before the
terrorist attack destroyed the towers on Sept. 11, 2001.
"Timing is everything," Clepper said.
A job and his wife's home state brought him to Kansas in 2005. He moved to
Wichita to work for hotel entrepreneur Jack DeBoer's Value Place Property
as senior vice president of operations and chief operating officer. His
wife, Jo, is from Wamego.
"That was the draw to come back to Kansas," Clepper said.
He joined Delta Dental in 2007 as vice president of operations and became
chief operational officer in 2009.
Founded in 1933 as an agency to employ the blind, Envision has grown into a
complex organization with a mission that includes providing a
center, low-vision rehab, public education on eyesight disease prevention
and professional education.
It helps fund those efforts through a five-year-old foundation, which
expects to raise $750,000 this year, and from two businesses it operates.
One industry employs mostly blind or visually impaired people to make
plastic bags, while the other business operates retail stores at 16 military
across the country. Products made by Envision's employees and other agencies
that serve the blind and visually impaired are sold at the stores.
But sales of Envision's products were down 22 percent for the first five
months of fiscal year 2011 over a year ago, primarily because the federal
- Envision's main customer - has cut back on purchases, Envision spokeswoman
Mary Shannon said.
At the same time, the need is growing for agencies that serve the blind and
visually impaired. Vision loss is expected to double by 2020 because of the
aging baby-boom population, Shannon said.
So Clepper will step in at a challenging time.
"Envision is a unique organization and in a good position to help the
general community," he said. "My job is to grow this business and extend the
We have to do that smartly, but we also have to make sure we get the most
bang for the buck in terms of using those resources."
Clepper will replace Kent Wilson, who has been serving as interim CEO.
Wilson will return to his role as chief financial officer.
Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or rplumlee at wichitaeagle.com.
C 2011 Wichita Eagle and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
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