Philip, now CEO of Lions Services, did not expect to be where he is today. Born with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia, his eyes could not communicate with his brain, leaving him with a vision impairment so profound that his mom had to leave her job to ensure Philip would not remove his glasses. However, early intervention surgery helped stabilize his eyes, allowing his vision to improve over time. At the age of 16, his vision stopped improving, leaving him legally blind. As a high schooler with no support system, Philip felt isolated and embarrassed. He did not have a place where he could confide with others about the challenges he faced in everyday life, and this continued into college, where he attended Belmont Abbey as the first legally blind student. In his final year of college, he attended 208 interviews, all of which presented challenges or became unavailable once his condition was revealed. It wasn’t until he found Lions Services that, with a little persuasion, Philip landed his first job, changing the course of his life. Starting work “as the administrative assistant” on September 11, 2001, Philip quickly moved up in the company and decided to pursue an MBA, proving his value to a place that gave him a chance.
Taking time to learn every inch of the organization, Philip finally achieved his dream of becoming CEO on June 21, 2021. Philip’s unique perspective on his condition has helped him grow and create a place that brings fulfillment and joy back into people’s lives. Philip believes that the power you give your disability is the power it will have over you. “You have to accept it and start truly living with it [because] blindness is just a label.” As CEO, Philip has helped create a place where blind people can not only maintain their independence through work but also have a community of people to guide and support them along the way. He’s created a safe-haven, giving others what he needed as a young adult, a place where no blind person feels alone. Our agency employs more than 100 blind people and is committed to finding new ways to reduce the 70% unemployment rate suffered by the blind community.