John D. Kemp, President and CEO of The Viscardi Center, the Henry Viscardi School and Abilities, Inc., will resign from his positions effective Oct. 31, to become President and CEO of The Lakeshore Foundation in Birmingham, AL.
The announcement was recently made to the boards of all three organizations, which are dedicated to providing education, employment and empowerment to children and adults with disabilities, by Russ Cusick, chair of the The Viscardi Center Board, Beth Daly, chair of the Henry Viscardi School Board and Candida Cucharo, chair of Abilities, Inc.
The three chairpersons said they will engage an outside firm to work with them on a nationwide search for a replacement, and that Executive Vice President and CFO Sheryl Buchel would step in as Interim President and CEO on Nov. 1 if that search process is not completed.
“John Kemp’s leadership and advocacy in the disabilities community is unparalleled and we are eternally grateful for his ten years with our organizations,” Cusick said. “John established an experienced and talented senior leadership team and created a sound fiscal structure to place us in [the] best possible position to move forward through this transition.”
“My love and respect for the mission of all Viscardi operations, our engaged and dedicated board members and our extraordinary staff has grown each and every day and working together we have brought Viscardi to new heights locally, nationally and internationally,” Kemp stated. “To move to the city, which is my wife’s hometown and where our two grown children and five grandchildren live, is a serendipitous opportunity at this stage in our lives— one too great to pass up.”
Based in Birmingham, The Lakeshore Foundation’s mission is to encourage and provide opportunities for people with a physical disability to live a healthy lifestyle through activity, research, advocacy and health promotion.
Kemp joined The Viscardi Center in 2011 as the fourth president and CEO of the nonprofit organization. As a person with a disability who uses four prostheses, he is a renowned and sought-after global speaker and inspires others through knowledge, experience, vision, persistence and personality. He graduated from Georgetown University and holds a J.D. from Washburn University School of Law, as well as two Honorary Doctorate degrees.
Kemp has received the Henry B. Betts Award, widely regarded as America’s highest honor for disability leadership and service, and the Dole Leadership Prize from the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas, whose recipients include Nelson Mandela and former U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
During Kemp’s tenure at Viscardi, he:
• broadened its mission to include statewide, national and international outreach and initiatives;
• created a sound fiscal structure, built its endowment and enhanced fund development;
• implemented a short- and long-range strategic planning process across the three organizational entities;
• managed the organization through the COVID pandemic ensuring the school and programs continued without interruption and that they remained financially sound.
The Viscardi Center, a network of nonprofit organizations based in Albertson, provides a lifespan of services that educate, employ and empower people with disabilities. Its programs and services include pre-K through high school education, school-to-work transition services, vocational training, career counseling and placement and workforce diversification assistance to children, adolescents and adults with disabilities as well as businesses. It was founded in 1952 by Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr. who himself wore prosthetic legs, served as disability advisor to eight U.S. Presidents, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter and became one of the world’s leading advocates for people with disabilities.
—Submitted by the Viscardi Center