Book Review

The Blind Visionary

by Doug Eadie and Virginia Jacko, Governance Edge Publication, Oldsmar, Fla., 2010, 162 pp., $29.95 hardcover, $19.95 softcover

The Blind Visionary describes the professional and personal journey of Virginia Jacko, formerly an executive administrator at Purdue University, whose illness left her blind. Jacko’s determination, focus and optimism provide a powerful framework for re-evaluating the challenges that characterize the work of educational administrators.

The Blind Visionary

Doug Eadie is the president of a firm that specializes in capacity building and leadership capacity of chief executives, while Jacko is president of the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

The book presents a dialogue between Eadie and Jacko in three parts. The conversation begins with the story of Jacko’s years at Purdue University, her diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa and how she copes with the gradual loss of her vision. In the second section, Jacko describes how she became involved with the Miami Lighthouse, ultimately becoming the organization’s first blind CEO. The conversation between the two concludes with a discussion of the lessons gleaned from Jacko’s experiences.

The book’s focus is not how a single individual can overcome a debilitating illness and succeed against all odds. Rather, the authors present Jacko’s personal story as an invitation for all of us to reflect on our experiences and possibly reinterpret our personal narratives of disappointment, loss and difficulties. The book distills Jacko’s journey into four simple yet powerful lessons we can apply to our own lives: Reach out aggressively, act on opportunities, do not let fear win and keep things in perspective.

As a conversation between friends, The Blind Visionary is not intended as a research-oriented text on executive behaviors. The authors allow us to deeply connect with an individual through a personal story of adversity.

Reviewed by Anne S. McKenzie, executive director, Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative, West Springfield, Mass.