Dear Members, Friends and Supporters,
At Fighting Blindness we have made the announcement that our Chief Executive, Kevin Whelan, is leaving us on May 6 to pursue other career ambitions.
Kevin joined us in 2016 and has had a huge impact on our organisation – particularly through his expert fundraising and business acumen. He has also recruited a talented and dedicated team that has made great inroads to our mission to cure, support and empower those living with sight loss. We are extremely grateful and indebted to his service.
Every leader has an impact on the organisation that they head up. They create a staff culture and interactions that can blend talented and skilled people towards fulfilling a mission, but this can sometimes be challenging to retain the ethos contained in the origins of the organisation. I truly believe that Kevin Whelan fulfilled this with aplomb.
Many of us will reflect on his fundraising and networking skills clearly illustrated in the many projects he has been involved with in his time with Fighting Blindness. If I was to pick one as a fitting legacy it would be that three maternity hospitals on the island of Ireland have now been equipped with RetCams that can save the sight of premature babies. Truly a gift for the future. Kevin championed the RetCams through corporate partnerships and private donations as well as from a professionalised and enhanced private member’s draw. He also managed several key fundraising dinners and on behalf of Fighting Blindness has successfully nurtured key relationships with those able to fund innovative research in the future. This work also acts as a legacy that will undoubtedly lead us ever-closer to the cures we so desperately seek.
Perhaps Kevin Whelan’s main legacy at Fighting Blindness will be that he steadied the ship throughout the Covid-19 pandemic – a truly once-in-a-generation event that threatened the existence of many businesses and charities in times when most of the population was restricted in their movement and activities. However, Fighting Blindness was able to return to its core values and is now beginning to thrive in a digital, online environment as well as in the physical world. With many of our members now comfortably using tools for remote access, we have been able to continue and expand our community widely and accessibly. This has been a remarkable achievement in such a compact time of crisis; a process driven by Kevin Whelan whose abundant energy has been both an inspiration and the powerhouse of necessary change.
Kevin has assured us that he will continue to be a friend to Fighting Blindness in the future – and we wish him every success. In the meantime, our team in Ely Place will continue with our mission as we actively recruit an interim Chief Executive to lead our next phase of development. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need further information.