Board Members

Executive Director

New London, CT

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Building a better future for the blind

Helping the Blind and Visually Impaired for Over 50 Years

Our Mission

Our mission is to serve the social, recreational, educational, referral, and advocacy needs of the blind and visually impaired population of southeastern Connecticut and assist them in attaining and maintaining an independent lifestyle.

Connecticut Map with New London County highlighted
Photo of the Center of the Blind Building
Our Home at 75R Granite Street
New London port

Our Story

The Center of the Blind was founded in 1972 through the efforts of Marjorie Heath, a blind woman who felt the need for blind and visually impaired persons to come together for social and recreational opportunities. It was incorporated on May 12, 1976.

The Center offers services to the more than 1,000 legally blind residents of Southeastern Connecticut. We have an ongoing volunteer force to help with social and recreational activities, reading, clerical work, and transportation.

We are a 501c3 organization and depend on funding from private contributions, donations, fundraising, and grants.

Board of Directors

Scott Skinner

Scott Skinner President

Born in New Brunswick, Canada, and became US Citizen in 1999. Attended Rhode Island College, University of RI, Eastern Nazarene College, and Insurance Institute of America earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) magna cum laude and an Associate in Insurance Services (AIS). Diagnosed at MA Eye and Ear with a rare form of Retinitis Pigmentosa in 2008 resulting in legal blindness in 2016. Currently employed by Employment and Training Institute (ETI). Served as a board member for Tides Family Services. Been a member of The Center of the Blind since 2016 and a board member since 2020.

Kevin Harkins

Kevin Harkins Vice President

Blind since birth, he has advocated for the visually impaired since the age of fifteen, when he became the first legally blind person admitted to Wooster School, in Danbury, CT. By nineteen, he was a freelance news reporter for WLAD Radio, produced a radio documentary on blindness in CT, and served on the founding board of directors for the CT Chapter of the NFB. He was recognized by the International Chiefs of Police and FBI Magazine as the first totally blind law enforcement dispatcher. He has been active with the American Council for the Blind and was honored by BESB for developing employment opportunities for sightless telephone operators at the Mohegan Sun Casino. He served on the Commission for Persons with Disabilities for the city of Norwich, CT. He has been a member of the Center of the Blind since 2016 and was President in 2019 and 2020 and is now currently the Vice President of the Board.

Tammy Paradis

Tammy Paradis Secretary

A true believer in advocating for the blind and visually impaired. She attended the SC School for the Blind and Helen Keller School for the Deaf and Blind Adults to prepare for her future living with Ushers Syndrome: a rare genetic disease which causes a slow loss of vision and hearing. Tammy joined the Center of the Blind in 2016 and became a board member in 2017, and has been the Secretary of the Board since Jan. 2018. She currently prepares the monthly newsletter, records the monthly minutes, and handles all correspondence and event planning at the Center.

Marion Ouellette

Marion Ouellette Treasurer

Graduated with a bachelor degree in music education from UCONN and graduated with a masters degree in special education from Southern CT University.

She worked 5 years in the Ledyard School system as a music teacher in the middle school level.

She then worked 18 years in the Plainfield School system as a special educational teacher for elementary & middle school levels.

She and her husband Al, currently reside in Uncasville and have 2 sons and 6 grandchildren. She has been a member of the Center of the Blind for 25 years. She has participated in numerous fundraisers for the Center such as; Blind Man's Bluff, Corned Beef & Cabbage Dinners, and our Pancake Breakfast.

She is a former member of the Montville Lions Club with 23 years of perfect attendance.

Laura Beaudion

Nanette Burdick

Michael Coughlin

Lynne Magee

Kirsten Orzechowski

Albert Ouellette

Michael Sullivan

Pat Tavares

Executive Director

Wendy Lusk

Wendy Lusk

Volunteering at the Center since 1985, she has kept the records and financials up to date under two previous Directors who were visually impaired. She became President of the Board in January 2008 and held the position for several terms after serving the other offices. After retiring 21 years from Mohegan Sun Casino in 2019, she became the Executive Director for the Center in January 2020. Her mission was to increase membership, find a new location for the Center, and gain more recognition in the community. Through her efforts in the past 2 years, we are in a new location, have a professional looking website as well as brochures, a well-stocked retail outlet, state of the art adaptive equipment, and our membership has tripled in size!

Our Supporters

Charter Oak Credit Union
Dime Bank Foundation
Bank of America

Eugene G. & Margaret M. Blackford Memorial Fund
fbo Blind, Bank of America, N.A., Co‑Trustee

Frank Loomis Palmer Fund, Bank of America

Employees’ Community Services Association, Electric Boat
Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut
Chamber of Commerce Eastern Connecticut logo
Help for the Blind of Eastern Connecticut, Inc.
Eversource Energy
Chelsea Groton Bank logo
Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce logo

DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION POLICY

The South East CT Community Center of the Blind is committed to creating an environment that is diverse, inclusive, and equitable where all staff, Center members, volunteers, partners, vendors, and board members are treated with respect and dignity. 

For the purposes of this statement, diversity refers to race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual identity, familial status, age, disability and socio-economic status; Inclusion is valuing, respecting, and encouraging the full participation of each individual in the life and leadership of the organization; Equity is a process that ensures all people have the opportunity to contribute, develop, and grow despite historical, structural, legislative, racial, and socio-economic inequities. 

The South East CT Community Center of the Blind is an organization that celebrates the rich diversity of the southeastern CT  region. We will not tolerate discrimination, biases, harassment, or bullying of any kind. Regardless of race, socio-economic status, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, gender, or marital status, we are an organization that celebrates the richness of our community. 

As an organization and Board of Directors, we agree to be guided by these principles and pledge that they will be reflected in our vision, mission, strategic planning, programming, governance, and board composition. Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion extends to our members, volunteers and programs we develop and support.

simple Illustration of people of various ages and ethnicities and disabilites
People illustrations by Storyset