During these difficult economic times, the job market has continued to see a decline. While the emphasis in the media has been on those who suffered the effects of mass layoffs and struggled with student debt after graduation, those dealing with disabilities can sometimes be overlooked. However, there are some organizations that provide help to disabled Chicagoans. The Chicago Lighthouse is an organization that is helping to quell the staggering unemployment rate among the blind. This non-profit organization provides educational and training programs, job counseling and even placement services for the visually impaired.

Terrence J. Longo is the chief operating officer and executive vice president of The Chicago Lighthouse. Terrence has been with the organization for 13 years. He has also held the position of assistant executive director. He is a great example of how using your educational background and experience can provide opportunities for making a difference in people’s lives while working in a management position.

Terrence J. Longo, chief operating officer and executive vice president, The Chicago Lighthouse (photo courtesy of Terrence J. Longo)

Terrence J. Longo, chief operating officer and executive vice president, The Chicago Lighthouse (photo courtesy of Terrence J. Longo)

How has your educational background helped you achieve a management position? 

“I have a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences, a master’s degree in special education and rehabilitation, and a masters of business administration. My education has taught me an understanding of business, which is highly transferrable across industries such as education, health care and social services. It has helped me to improve my ability to lead staff, understand the dynamics of a rapidly changing market and communicate with individuals at all levels.”

How is the management of a non-profit different than a for-profit? 

“I don’t think my approach to management is significantly different from what it would be in a for-profit organization. We are a mission-driven and performance-driven organization, and my expectations of staff and departments include a variety of aspects. These include accountability, achievement of measurable standards of execution and maintenance of an equitable exchange of value with the various publics we serve.”

What else can you share about The Chicago Lighthouse? 

“The Chicago Lighthouse is an innovator in blind rehabilitation. Over our 107 years, we’ve created a comprehensive offering of programs and services which support our overall mission to empower people who are blind or visually impaired to achieve independence and economic self-sufficiency. We seek partnerships to assist us in building bridges between community, business and government agencies to support the goal of providing opportunities, employment and independent living for people with disabilities.”

Sara Lugardo is a professional writer out of Chicago, Illinois. She has a Bachelor’s in Communication and is currently working on her Master’s. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.