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Meet Gidget Hopf: A VSA Executive Leadership Conference 2022 Speaker

Blue graphic with VSAELC logo. Speaker Highlight: Gidget Hoph. Beside, Gidget smiles at the camera.

Meet Dr. Gidget Hopf, one of our inspiring speakers for our Executive Leadership Conference (VSAELC) 2022. Before retiring in 2020, Dr. Gidget Hopf served as President and CEO of Goodwill of the Finger Lakes for 34 years.

She earned her Ed.D. in Leadership and Organization Studies in 2005 from George Washington University and believes Executive Coaching is one of the most effective means for developing transformational leaders. She is an expert in board relations, having led local, state, and national boards.

She has an extensive history of working with individuals who are blind, have developmental disabilities, are victims of domestic abuse, and those who have been oppressed through systemic racism and social injustice.

Removing Barriers

Hopf graduated with a Bachelor of Science in speech pathology from Geneseo College in upstate New York and immediately began work with individuals with disabilities. Her relationship with the blind and visually impaired community grew stronger when in 1986 after she began as the CEO for Goodwill of the Finger Lakes and its affiliate, the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. She secured a major federal contract that created hundreds of jobs for individuals with visual impairments.

That was just the beginning, with many more contracts to follow, including producing products and services for the Coast Guard and Air Force and additional state and federal agencies.

Through all this, Hopf worked to implement many strategies that would allow individuals with visual impairments the same opportunities that presented themselves to others. However, she believes that many hiring managers are still unaware of what individuals who are blind are capable of and may assume it will be costly to accommodate them. “I believe that many barriers exist today within the broader community and private enterprise due to century’s old stereotypes that, while lessened, is still held by many hiring leaders.” She strongly believes that the way to overcome that barrier is with trust.

“Empower and trust your employees who are blind and let them lead the way.”

Dr. Gidget Hopf

One of Hopf’s most notable successes in creating upward mobility for individuals who were blind or visually impaired was developing a call center. What began as a two-person operation grew into a state-of-the-art 24-7 crisis and information contact center that employs over 100 people and serves over 100,000 individuals annually.

In 2020, Dr. Hopf received the R.B. Irwin Award, the highest honor from the National Industries for the Blind, “for her innovative work creating employment opportunities for people who are blind.”

Transformative Learning

At the Executive Leadership Conference, Hopf will present “How Executive Coaching Fosters Transformative Learning: Begin a New Leadership Journey,” an exclusive for CEOs. Her session will help leaders identify issues that impede their success and encourage applying meaning to those issues to reveal a path forward. With this transformative process, leaders will obtain a new understanding that will lead to new perspectives and action.

Join us in person in beautiful Tampa this spring! VSA invites industry professionals and leaders to provide service to or with people who are blind or have low vision to reflect on our industry’s impact on society and share ideas for a transformative future. The 3-day event will offer opportunities to attend exceptional learning and networking sessions on topical issues, including specific learning tracks for CEOs, Programing, Fundraising/Administration, and Advocacy. Attend the #1 conference to advance your professional development, organizational effectiveness, and more.