Sunday, March 3, 2013

Doug Eadie - A Light in the Darkness

When Doug Eadie met Virginia Jacko, CEO of the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, he felt an instant rapport. Eadie, the president of Doug Eadie & Company, a Florida consulting firm, had years of experience working in the non-profit sector.  Although he had met many executives in the course of his career, he was captivated by this dynamic woman with her sunny smile and “can-do” attitude. Jacko was in a unique position to lead an organization whose primary goal was to help the visually challenged. Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa in 1998, Virginia Jacko had gradually lost her sight and become totally blind.  

Eadie, a self-described “Board Mechanic” who specializes in building non-profit board-CEO partnerships, spent several months working with Jacko and the Miami Lighthouse. During that time, he became close friends with this remarkable woman. “It was a great partnership,” Eadie says. “I loved working with her. It wasn’t always easy because we both have strong personalities, but we developed a deep mutual respect.” When the project concluded in 2006, the two continued to stay in touch.
Eadie, the author of 18 books on non-profit leadership, began to think about channeling his writing in a new direction. In the summer of 2008, he decided to write a book chronicling Jacko’s amazing story. “It was scary to me,” he recalls. “I’m a person who likes structure. I was convinced we had a book; I just wasn’t sure what kind. But I knew it was too good a story to package as a management book.” After discussing the idea with Jacko, Eadie flew to Miami in late December to conduct the first of several interview sessions with her. He then spent the next year organizing the information and putting the ideas together while Jacko, his co-author, reviewed and fact-checked all the material. Working on the book was a surprisingly emotional experience for Eadie, who often had to stop writing because he became so moved by Jacko’s words. Finally, in January, 2010, The Blind Visionary was published.

The Blind Visionary traces Virginia Jacko’s personal journey from her days as a successful executive at Purdue University through the ordeal of her gradual loss of sight. The story  culminates with her new beginning as a vocational rehabilitation student who eventually rose to the top position at Miami Lighthouse. Eadie hopes her example will be an inspiration to readers as they deal with the difficulties in their own lives. “The lesson in Virginia’s experience is that whatever your challenge, you can face it,” Eadie explains. “I hope people will be energized and motivated by Virginia’s story. I also want it to be a tool to help people realize that, whatever their challenges may be, they can bring something meaningful to their lives through their actions.”

Over the past 25 years, Eadie had worked with over 500 nonprofit and public organizations of every shape and size in a wide variety of fields, including association management, public education, economic development, and public transportation. Although he had an established reputation as an author in his field of expertise, writing The Blind Visionary was such a profound experience for him that he intends to continue writing in this more personal view.  Recently he has created a new blog, “Entwined Lives,” ( which chronicles his and his former students’ experiences during his three years as a Peace Corps teacher in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “My three years  teaching English and ancient history at Tafari Makonnen School, one of the finest public schools in Addis Ababa, not only transformed my life, but also resulted in lifelong friendships that I celebrate in my “Entwined Lives” blog,” he says. “As a writer, I envision these blog posts as a rich reservoir I can draw on in writing my next book.”

For more information on “The Blind Visionary,” go to

Next: Guest post by Julie Compton

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