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New World Services for the Blind CEO Aims to Increase Enrollment

2 min read

After several leadership changes over the last two years, World Services for the Blind has CEO Sharon Giovinazzo at the helm.

World Services for the Blind trains the blind and vision-impaired for the workforce. Giovinazzo came to the nonprofit on Aug. 3 after serving as vice president of programs and services at RLCB Inc. in Raleigh, North Carolina, and legislative affairs specialist for the National Industries for the Blind. 

Her arrival followed a tumultuous 2014, when the nonprofit had no fewer than three different CEOs, laid off workers and even closed temporarily. 

But Giovinazzo, who spoke at the Little Rock Rotary Club’s weekly luncheon Tuesday, said she plans to remain at the organization “for awhile.” She also said the nonprofit has seen growth in the last year and hopes to continue that trend. 

Giovinazzo said that in the last year, enrollment has more than doubled, going from 20 to 50. She hopes to see it reach its cap of 91 by the end of 2017.

“Six months [after starting], I’m seeing growth and we’re seeing the ship right itself,” Giovinazzo said. “I expect that growth to continue.”

Giovinazzo said there is 70 percent unemployment among blind adults. World Services for Blind offers workforce training programs, helps clients receive high school diplomas and more.

Giovinazzo said one of her goals is to create more partnerships with business that can create more job opportunities for World Services’ graduates.

“We are looking to build a more corporate presence so that we can work with them, and maybe they can set aside jobs for graduates from our programs,” she said.

Giovinazzo said she believes that, as someone who is blind, she has insight that sighted people do not.

“I’m looking and thinking outside the box,” Giovinazzo said. “We are improving our reputation, and I think before there was a lack of understanding about what we did. Being blind, I understand that market and am able to sell to it.”

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