[nfbwatlk] Hadley School for the Blind to get new president, The Chicago Tribune, November 17 2015

Nightingale, Noel Noel.Nightingale at ed.gov
Mon Nov 23 18:49:05 UTC 2015


Hadley School for the Blind to get new president
Daniel I. Dorfman, Pioneer Press
7:28 am, November 17, 2015

Chuck Young said that when he began as president of Winnetka's Hadley School for the Blind, he thought it would be a roughly five-year run. It turned out to be twice that, though, and Young said he's been thrilled with his tenure.

"It's the pinnacle of my career to be able to be the president of the Hadley School," Young said.

Now after a decade, Young has decided to move on and has announced his retirement, effective next May.

"I've accomplished many things since I have been here and I want to leave on a high note," Young said. "I feel it is time for new leadership. I want to leave now while I am still vibrant and look at other opportunities."

Young, whose mother was legally blind, arrived at the Hadley School in late 2005 after more than 20 years as an administrator with the Oregon Commission for the Blind.

School officials said Hadley, which focuses on distance learning, has 10,000 students in all 50 states and 100 countries.

Young included among the highlights of his tenure the Blinded Veterans Initiative. He said he served in the Army himself and takes pride in the fact that 500 veterans have taken tuition-free courses since the program was launched in 2011.

"We recognized the increased instances of visual impairment coming out of the Afghan and Iraq campaigns," he said. "Seventeen percent of the injuries there were vision-related, which were very much unlike prior wars."

He said the Blinded Veterans Initiative has complemented the development of the Forsythe Center for Employment and Entrepreneurship, which helps those with visual disabilities either find a job or develop their own businesses.

"There was nobody working on entrepreneurship and self-employment and there are an inordinate number of people with significant disabilities who are self-employed," Young said. "So we interviewed many successful blind men and women across the country and we have developed a curriculum for visually impaired individuals who want to be self-employed and own their own businesses."

Young drew praise from his colleagues at the school.

"Chuck has been a forward-thinking leader," board Chairman Dewey Crawford said. "Since he came to Hadley, he has identified these areas that are complementary to what we do already."

Young said he believes in the need for people to learn Braille - which has been around for generations - but he said he's glad that Hadley can offer the latest technology.

"Our students very much want to be a part of the everyday world and use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and email, so we get a lot of interest in our iFocus series, which is a bunch of tutorials that are available free," Young said.

He also said he's sensed a shift over the years in how blind people have become integrated into society.

"People are more accustomed to having people with significant disabilities in their environment and blindness has become more well-known by the younger generation," Young said. "I think that has helped the attitude and I think technology has leveled the playing field significantly for people that are blind."

As for the future of Hadley, which was created in 1920, Crawford said an executive search firm has been hired to recruit candidates for the next president. Young will be consulted, Crawford said.

He said the school has an approximate $70 million endowment in place, but said the new president will be asked to search for additional funding.

Young, who received a "Man of the Year" honor from the Winnetka Northfield Chamber of Commerce earlier this year, said his plans starting next May include traveling, doing consulting work and serving on some boards - all with the goal of assisting people with low vision.

"I look forward to the school growing and flourishing under new leadership," Young said. "I'll be the biggest fan of the school forever."

Daniel I. Dorfman is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press

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