In This Issue
Message from Chair and President
Meet a Member
What's on my Desk
VisionServe in Pictures
What's Cookin'?
Upcoming Conferences
Stone Soup Submissions
Mission Statement

Message from Chair and President
Message from Miki 

What I did on summer vacation


Returning to school after an all too short vacation, many will remember the first class assignment to write or talk about our summer vacation.  Even the smallest everyday adventures were worthy of note. 


All too often as adults we focus on the "big" events -the trip to Europe or the cruise to an exotic land.  Remember the joy in the small surprises and invitations that summer brought and the childhood pleasure we felt. 


We should all hold tight to those little pieces of time that lead to precious memories and a well-balanced life that, in this challenging environment, help us to be effective and wise leaders of our non-profits.  In giving back to ourselves, we are refreshed and can better give back to others.  Then as the summer draws to an end, take time to reflect on "What I did on my summer vacation."


"Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability." --Sam Keen  



Miki Jordan
VisionServe Chair
Junior Blind of America
Los Angles, California
Message from Roxann 

Pause - Play - Forward


When leaders face stress over the long term and cannot find ways to manage its downside, he or she may find that things begin to slip at work and/or at home, small problems may seem more than usually troublesome, relationships may become strained, self-confidence may slip and physical health may suffer.  


How does a leader quell the everyday, inner conflicts caused by the heavy responsibility of charting new paths, inspiring people, imparting clarity of vision and optimism, and solving the inevitable crises - and still remain an effective leader? One could answer, "Not easily," and be right.


Leaders cannot sustain their effectiveness if they cannot sustain themselves.   


This is why I encourage each of you to use your personal vacation days, disconnect for a time from the internet and cell phones, and to plan to come to our Fall conference in Winter Park, Florida (November 5-9) where we will pause (some) - play (some) - and (prepare to) move forward



Roxann Mayros                                         

Meet Sue Daniels of Leader Dogs!
"If I weren't this I'd own and manage a small bookshop and volunteer for a human service nonprofit." "The best advice I ever got is to always look for the good in everything-it is there, even if it may be hard to find." "What I do when I'm not at work- enjoy time with my family, read. workout, shop(!), hike, bike and canoe. " "My Media Mix
: TV-the only thing I watch on TV is professional football; Music-I like country and oldies; News- I listen to local news channel on the radio." 

What's on my Desk - Mike McGowan

I know what you are thinking after looking at the picture of my desk. "What, does he work in an attic?" Well, yes I do. As a part time (in compensation, not hours) ED for a small not for profit, I work out of my home. Consequently my desk shows you a bit of my personal and professional life. The 23 inch monitor set to Windows accessibilities options shows that I have low vision. I use that old VCR and TV on the right to covert VHS home videos for digital editing. Each Christmas I give my family a DVD of edited home videos from roughly 20 years ago.

                 Like all organization heads I usually have at least one big problem on my desk at all times. Note that I have both a desktop and a laptop on my desk at the moment. My problem is that the desktop crashed about a week ago and the laptop is a backup. There is no tech support to call when you run a small shop. I am tech support.


There are three items that I have kept on all of my desks for over thirty years. They are a constant reminder to me. A tiny American flag reminds me that I chose a career in public service. As long as I can remember my goal was to work for the greater good. A toy cement truck reminds me of my first job. I spent all four summers of high school working as a concrete laborer for my father. I learned the value of hard work. No matter how hard you work, someone else is working harder and getting paid less.


The tiny gavel represents a lesson in leadership I learned in college. As president of the dorm government I set out to run efficient and professional weekly executive committee meetings. At one meeting I chastised the group for not taking their work seriously. I arrived early for the next meeting. When the appointed hour came, no one showed up. A few minutes later the hall director and the entire executive board filed in silently dressed formally. They made me conduct the meeting in strict seriousness and addressed me as sir or MM. I pleaded with them several times during the meeting to cut the act. With few exceptions they all stayed in character for the entire meeting. At the end of the meeting the hall director presented me with the tiny gavel. The lesson: take your work seriously, don't take yourself seriously.


With NOAHs biannual national conference happening in six weeks, my desk is currently filled with planning tasks including work on a parent book to be released at the conference and work on a new website. The one constant on my desk since I became NOAHs first ED like the video editing software and equipment is my effort to convert NOAH from a grassroots organization to a self-sustaining staffed not for profit.


VisionServe in Pictures!

New Board Member
New VisionServe Alliance Members

Mike McGowan
Thomas Panek
Guiding Eyes for the Blind 
Patricia Marshall Vision Education & Rehab Center
Renee Vidrine
Lighthouse Louisiana 

VisionServe Alliance Spring 2014 Conference:
Louisville, KY 
Welcome Reception at the Seelback Hotel-Rathskeller Room

Attendees enjoying the view and conversation
Annie Gallagher, Roxann Mayros, and Kate Holland

Pictured are those at APH on Thursday, April 24, 2014

Churchill Downs Bugler opens the meeting
Hosts: Tuck Tinsley of APH and Diane Nelson of VIPS
Previous Excellence in Leadership Award Recipients pictured near plaque at APH

Mike McGowan viewing a relief of Phil Hatlen
While visiting Churchill Downs a few guests rode in a race
Larry Dickerson, Roxann Mayros, and Miki Jordan

Kim Gibbens, June Mansfield, David Ekin and Miki Jordan
Our closing view of Churchill Downs

Entry to VIPS a beautiful display of stars to represent donors
Mark Ackerman taking a break

What's Cookin'? 
This section features news, innovations and ideas form VisionServe Alliance member agencies.  

BIA Upgrades and Expands Its Mobile Apps


Since the launch of its first mobile app in 2011, Braille Institute has been moving forward to provide accessible digital tools for mainstream devices. This summer we are releasing the second of our updates to our popular VisionSim app that uses mobile device cameras to simulate various eye conditions, and are on the cusp of releasing an improved iOS and new Android version of ViA, which helps people who are blind or visually impaired easily find apps most useful for them. Read More  

 VisionSim Apple App
 ViA  Apple App
Independent Living Series at The Hadley School for the Blind
The Independent Living series consists of several two-lesson courses on a variety of topics central to the tasks of daily living. They cover timely topics for individuals who are new to vision loss and those in need of review and can serve as a complement and act as pre-or post-training for on-site training received in at a blind rehabilitation center. All courses are two lessons each and are offered in the medium of student's choice-large print, online, audio or Braille. Courses are open to students in all four of Hadley's Program Areas including Adult Continuing Education, High School, Family Education and the Hadley School for Professional Studies.

The mini-courses include:

Independent Living: The Beginnings
Independent Living: Orientation and Mobility Basics
Independent Living: Socializing and Dining
Independent Living: Clothing Care and Dressing Confidently
Independent Living: Cooking

For more information or to register, please visit
Leader Dogs for the Blind Celebrates 75th Anniversary 


Leader Dogs for the Blind is celebrating their 75th Anniversary throughout 2014. Besides providing over 14,500 guide dogs since 1939, they are celebrating their service innovations over the years, including:


Training their first Deaf-Blind client completely through American Sign Language (ASL) in 1992.

Offering orientation and mobility (O&M) training since 2002. The first official O&M class consisted of three clients, today the program has the capacity to train up to 100 people per year. About 50% of Leader Dog's O&M clients return to train with a Leader Dog.

Providing GPS training since 2005 and in 2009, incorporating that training into their guide dog program. All training includes a free GPS device for clients from the U.S. and Canada.
Beginning in 2007, a Summer Experience Camp for 16- and 17-year-olds that includes GPS training, a free GPS device, leadership activities, recreational activities and spending time with Leader Dogs-in-training to learn more about caring and working with a guide dog.

The New Hampshire Association for the Blind honored Concord Hospital

Amy Nichols, Aleta Biladeau, and George Theriault, President & CEO NH Association for the Blind

Concord Hospital is helping produce an innovative new video being used around the country to train caregivers, volunteers and hospital staff members to better serve persons who are blind and visually impaired. 

Staff & volunteers that worked to produce the training video; "How Can I Help You?"

The Hospital earned the Association's 2013 Blind Access Award for its 18-month collaboration with the Association to produce "How Can I Help You?" The video initially was intended to be distributed to all New Hampshire healthcare facilities and hospitals, but it proved so popular and effective, it now is being widely used nationwide. It also is available worldwide on the Association's website. Read More

Lighthouse for the Blind-Saint Louis Acquires Supplier of Emergency Preparedness Kits 

LHB has acquired all assets of Quake Kare, Inc., a leading supplier of emergency preparedness kits, emergency supplies and survival kits. 

The acquisition is expected to increase Lighthouse revenues and employment at its two manufacturing and shipping plants in St. Louis County by expanding operations, providing more employment for people who are blind or legally blind and increasing income to support outreach programs for visually impaired people in Missouri and southwestern Illinois. Read More.
A Client of MAB Community Services was Guided by NPR Radio Host Peter Sagal 

Peter finished running the Boston Marathon last year about four minutes before the bombs went off. This year he wants to reclaim the race - and he did it as he guided Erich Manser  down the course and across the finish line.


 "I've been running marathons for about 10 years, and after a certain point there's a diminishing return in terms of what can motivate you," Sagal said. "In contrast, I get to do this for somebody else, and it feels effortless."


Sagal said he and Manser used a tether for the first half of the race when it is most crowded, then dropped it for the second half and just use Sagal's voice as a guide.

Peter Sagal host of  Chicago-based show
 "Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me!"


Manser, who describes his vision as "a cloudy keyhole . . . like looking through wax paper," will be running his 11th marathon. He said the benefits of running with a sighted guide are "too numerous to mention." A guide can read a watch and keep you aware of your pace, keep you safe, and get you water.


"I'm so appreciative of Peter, and of guides in general, who really give up their own race so I can run mine," Manser said. "It takes what might not be possible and makes it possible."   

Winner of Braille Challenge
Braille Institute of America hosted the top 60 blind and visually impaired students from across the U.S. and Canada to participate in The Braille Challenge® ─ the 14th annual, national competition for blind students to test their braille skills. The five winners ─Tiffany Zhao, Cricket Bidleman, Griffin Miller, Julia La Grand, and Ciara Peterson, ─ represent the top-ranking scores from the five age groups spanning ages 6 to 19.  Earlier this year, 1,065 students across North America competed in preliminary challenges to determine the top 60 finalists advancing to the national finals.

At the national finals on June 21 in Los Angeles, University of Southern California's Spirit of Troy band welcomed the 60 student finalists and their families as they embarked on the daylong competition to showcase their skills at reading and typing braille, using a device called a Perkins Brailler®. Students participate in several tests designed to evaluate braille skills in several areas including reading comprehension, braille spelling, chart and graph reading, proofreading and braille speed and accuracy.
Jim Kutsch Elected to Chair International Guide Dog Federation

Jim  is the first blind person, and also the first graduate of a guide dog school, to hold the position. In addition, two Seeing Eye employees have been named Assessors for the organization, which accredits more than 80 guide dog training organizations around the world.
Kutsch was elected at the most recent IGDF seminar, held last month in Japan. Ken Rosenthal, who was Kutsch's predecessor as President of The Seeing Eye, served as IGDF chairman from 2002 through 2006.
"It's unusual for the IGDF to elect two chairs of the board from the same school," Kutsch said. "I am truly honored and humbled to be elected to this position. It's a reflection of the high regard in which The Seeing Eye is held by other guide dog schools around the world."
About the IGDF
The International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) is an organization comprised of member guide dog organizations from around the world. IGDF works with these member organizations on a variety of things, including monitoring the quality of guide dogs that the schools produce. However it does not actually train dogs, mobility instructors, or dog trainers. Those tasks are done by each member school in the country in which they are based.  


An interview with Dr. Alan R. Morse and Mark G. Ackermann


Discussion on the Merger of

Jewish Guild Healthcare and Lighthouse International

by Dr. Alan R. Morse and Mark G. Ackermann

at the American Foundation for the Blind Leadership Conference

March 1, 2014


In one of the closing plenary presentations of the 2014 American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Leadership Conference, Carl Augusto, President and CEO of AFB interviewed Dr. Alan Morse, President and CEO of Lighthouse Guild International and Mark G. Ackermann, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Lighthouse Guild International and President, Lighthouse Guild Progams and Services Corporations. The wide ranging discussion centered around the recently completed merger between two venerable vision organizations Lighthouse International and Jewish Guild Healthcare.


The following is a compilation of the questions asked by Mr. Augusto and the responses by Dr. Morse and Mr. Ackermann:


Click here to read the full Interview 

Upcoming Conferences!
Mark your calendars...
Winter Park, FL conference registration opens early July!

Winter Park, FL.
November 5-8, 2014   

Oklahoma City, OK.
April 22-25, 2015

Los Angeles, CA
November 2015

Colorado Springs, CO
April 2016
Stone Soup Submissions 
This section includes deadlines and requirements fro submissions.  
2014 Submission Deadlines:
Friday, August 29, 2014
Friday, November 21, 2014

2014 Stone Soup Delivery:
at the end of the following months
March 2014
June 2014
September 2014
December 2014

We hope you enjoyed the new format for our quarterly newsletter, Stone Soup.  Please send your submission to Your submission should be a single word document that includes your logo, pictures, contact email link and verdana font.  Please tightly edit your submission to no more than 250 words and format your article as you would like it to read/display.
        Thank you.


Mission Statement:To engage leaders in building a better world through services for people with vision loss. 

VisionServe Alliance

8760 Manchester Rd

St. Louis, MO. 63021