In his 10 years of service to the Board of Trustees of the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind, Alan Swendiman has served as an agent of change and pillar of commitment. His leadership has helped the Columbia Lighthouse extend its services and programs offered to the blind and low-vision community. Elected Chairman in 1994, Swendiman’s vision for the organization was quickly applied and has generated strong results. He recognized pertinent issues facing blind and low-vision individuals and spearheaded the development of programs to effectively address those issues.
As Chairman, Swendiman focused on issues such as employment, children’s needs and the emerging role of technology in the workplace. He spotlighted the 70% unemployment rate among those who are blind and sought to address it. In an effort to develop job skills and increase career opportunities for people who are blind or have low-vision, Swendiman led the board to support a career center, which has become a major service provided by the Columbia Lighthouse.
By focusing attention on the emerging role of technology, Swendiman effectively led the Columbia Lighthouse to its status as a pioneer in the field of assistive and adaptive technology. This progressive thinking was responsible for landing the Columbia Lighthouse a national contract from the U.S. Government to train federal workers in new assistive technology and software. Moreover, Swendiman’s interest in fostering the healthy development of blind children resulted in the creation of parenting workshops, quarterly newsletters and activities that allow blind and low-vision children to socialize and develop life skills. A true believer in the importance of personal involvement, each summer he attends the summer camp for vision-impaired children to interact directly with the campers.
Swendiman has also promoted community relationships through business luncheons and encourages involvement in organizations like the Greater Washington Board of Trade. He played an integral role in developing fundraising events, increasing organizational visibility, and has been supportive of creating new revenue streams. He is active in fundraising and recruiting, and has redefined the Columbia Lighthouse Board’s role, encouraging increased involvement and activity both internally and externally.
In his ongoing dedication to the cause, Alan Swendiman continues to serve on the Lighthouse Board of trustees as well as the committee planning the organization’s 100th anniversary celebration. His volunteer service does not end with his dedication to the Columbia Lighthouse. He is active in many education and community-based programs and is on the boards of such organizations as the Boy Scouts of America, Grace Episcopal School and Leadership Washington. His commitment, dedication and leadership have affected many lives and his innovative, proactive philosophy has helped the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind carry its tradition of service to new heights.