Dennis Zehner Assumes Executive Director Role as Agency Looks to Advance its Mission

Dennis Zehner assumed the role as Executive Director of the Center for Vision Loss today as the agency began a new service year and initiated a critical effort to define how it will advance its mission.

Zehner had been the organization’s Director of Advancement since 2018 and earned the additional title of Associate Director in 2019. He was elected in January to succeed Douglas Yingling, who led the Center for Vision Loss for nine years until his retirement yesterday. Zehner is the eighth official leader in the agency’s 92-year history.

Zehner’s first day as Executive Director and the first day of the organization’s 2020-2021 year included a meeting to commence its next strategic planning process. The agency’s current strategic plan concludes in 2021 and the organization continues to respond to the more immediate and long-term effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“I undertake this new responsibility inspired and humbled by the impact that our organization makes on people’s lives with interventions that may appear small in scope but are enormous in significance,” Zehner said. “It is our charge to make today a pivotal moment from which we carry forward our progress while we remain faithful to the legacy of service that has shaped us for nearly a century.”

Zehner brings to his work as Executive Director 20 years of experience in the Lehigh Valley region’s nonprofit industry and an emotional connection with the organization’s mission because of obstacles encountered by his late paternal grandfather, who was legally blind throughout his life.

In his time with the Center for Vision Loss, Zehner has led creation of its 2018-2021 strategic plan, strengthened its Board of Directors, increased revenue in several categories, recreated its event portfolio, and fostered important new partnerships.

In his prior work with United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, the Literacy Center of the Lehigh Valley, and the Da Vinci Science Center, Zehner specialized in communications, creative promotions, news media relations, marketing, multi-platform content production, and fundraising as he progressed into roles of increased responsibility.

The Center for Vision Loss empowers people with visual impairments to seize their independence and champions healthy eyesight. With operations in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley and Monroe County, it combines a service tradition motivated by Helen Keller’s advocacy in 1928 with contemporary practices and state-of-the-art technologies. The organization’s support and rehabilitation services promote the accomplishment of daily tasks, increased access to medical services and food supplies, enhanced personal wellness, and extended self-sufficiency. Its free vision screenings for children stimulate success in school and its community education programs advocate for eye health and safety. All agency services are provided at little or no cost, and more than 80% of its clients with vision loss are from low-income households.

The Center for Vision Loss is an independent member of the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind (PAB) that is accredited nationally by the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) and affiliated with the VisionServe Alliance, a network of nearly 120 North American agencies that serve people with diminished sight.

 
See Also: Dennis Zehner’s Greeting to Constituents

It is Our Charge to Pursue a Path of Purpose


July 1, 2020


Dear Friends,

It is my privilege to begin work today as Executive Director of the Center for Vision Loss. I am indebted personally and professionally to my predecessor, Douglas Yingling, and I offer my heartfelt wishes for his well-deserved retirement.

There were plans to provide you opportunities to meet me prior to today. However, as we have been reminded repeatedly in recent months, life does not always proceed according to plan. As a matter of fact, every one of our clients with vision loss engaged with our organization because life did not proceed exactly as they had planned.

When they first reached out to us, however, our clients chose to resist a path of pity and to pursue a path of purpose – to seize their personal independence. They chose to harness their determination, adaptability, and self-belief to seek the same experiences of achievement, dignity, and hope that those with 20/20 sight pursue every day.

To honor our clients’ example, it is our charge to pursue a path of purpose by making today a pivotal moment from which we carry forward our progress while we remain faithful to the legacy of service that has shaped us for nearly a century. We will begin that pursuit later today when we commence a new strategic planning process.

We hope that this process will be influenced by conversations we have with you in the months ahead. I look forward to those discussions and welcome the opportunity to hear from you in the meantime. Please feel free to contact me at dennis.zehner@centerforvisionloss.org with questions, comments, or to just say hello.

Thank you for your meaningful support of our efforts to provide sights of hope for the people of the Lehigh Valley and Monroe County.

Sincerely yours,

Dennis Zehner
Executive Director