In the often rain-shrouded city of Seattle, business leader Kevin Daniel is a ray of sun.
Kevin supports the Blind and DeafBlind community and assists them in finding meaningful employment, something that can be a significant challenge to these individuals. Creating empowered, self-sufficient people is the driving force behind his career path, which has taken him from Texas, to Spokane, Wash., and finally to the nonprofit Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. in Seattle, where he is the Senior Director of Strategic Recruiting.
This inspiring work is close to Kevin’s heart as he was diagnosed with the degenerative eye disease Retinal Schisis at the age of five. The condition rendered Kevin legally blind, and he was eventually forced to leave home to attend a special residential school for the blind. According to Kevin, being away from his family at such a young age was the most difficult part.
“I began my life feeling blindness was about the worst thing that could happen to a person,” said Kevin. “Now, in my current role leading the Lighthouse’s efforts, I’ve become an instrumental person who positively impacts and enhances the lives of blind individuals through advocacy. I’m a champion for our causes in both my personal and professional life, and I truly feel that blindness is the best thing that could have happened to me.”
The inspiration for Kevin’s career goals came from his grandfather, who suffered from the same condition. He ran a successful business in the 1960s, when acceptance, accessibility, and support were incredibly limited—illustrating that dedication and perseverance pays off in spite of a what can be interpreted as a disability or limitation.
Founded in 1918, the Lighthouse has been empowering the Seattle Blind and DeafBlind community for almost 100 years. In addition to assisting with employment opportunities, the program provides computer training, independent living skills, continuing education, an annual week-long DeafBlind retreat, housing assistance, and more. They also educate elementary school students about blindness so that future generations will better understand and accept those with disabilities.
Supporting the Washington State Business Leadership Network (WSBLN) is important to both Kevin’s and the Lighthouse’s cause: “It brings together business leaders in a common goal to employ those struggling in the disability community, and WSBLN also provides information, direction, networking, and education for companies and organizations seeking additional talent, while simultaneously having a positive effect on their community.”
Disability employment isn’t the only focus of Kevin’s passion. He is also the founder and coach of Seattle’s first baseball team for the blind and visually impaired, and he founded the first team in Spokane as well.
Above all, Kevin understands how intimidating and overwhelming life can seem to young disabled people entering the “real world.”
“For those with a disability beginning their career, I encourage them to expect to reach for their goals and then settle for nothing less,” said Kevin. “The best assets are those who inspire you. Find people and mentors who are resources to help you learn, develop, and grow. Above all, never give up.”