Through education, training, research and vision enhancement, Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired provides hope, confidence, and independence to people of all ages
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Management Team

Virginia A. Jacko, President and CEO

Click here how Virginia Jacko became the President and CEO of Miami Lighthouse. Video produced by the Plaza Health Network Foundation as part of their 9th Annual Women of Distinction & Caring Luncheon.

Virginia A. Jacko, President and Chief Executive Officer

As President and CEO of Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, Virginia Jacko is committed to ensuring the blind and visually impaired, low vision seniors and financially disadvantaged schoolchildren without resources for eye care, regardless of age, socio-economic status or ethnicity, have equitable access to education, blindness prevention programs, and vision rehabilitation training.

She conceived and implemented a 50/50 pre-kindergarten for blind and sighted children, which was showcased in the Active Learner, HighScope Journal for Early Educators,” Seeing without Sight,” by Betsy Evans, pp. 14-27, Spring 2019. She has been featured in national publications such as The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Saturday Evening Post, and Ability Magazine, is the author and principal investigator of numerous peer-reviewed archival journal publications, including "Bringing Low Vision Assessments and Interventions to Underserved Seniors Affected by Age-Related Eye Disease," British Journal of Visual Impairment, December 2019, Volume 38, Number 1, pp. 15-23, and was named Distinguished Alumni by the College of Health and Human Sciences and the HHS Alumni Association, Purdue University. To read an article written by the Purdue University College of Health and Human Sciences (HHS) click here

She is a national expert in website and distance learning accessibility for people with vision impairment, having been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, TIME, NPR, Forbes and the Chronicle of Higher Education and introduced. Before relocating to Miami for her vision rehabilitation in 2001, she was a successful financial executive at Purdue University where she served for 22 years, including 12 years directing financial affairs for the President and Provost.

She applies her acumen in financial and program development, governmental and donor relations, accreditation and compliance arenas as President and CEO of Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Inc., President of the Florida Heiken Children's Vision Program, LLC, and President of Miami Lighthouse Academy, LLC. During her 17-year tenure as President and CEO at Miami Lighthouse, the number of program participants increased fiftyfold, net assets increased fivefold and contributions increased sevenfold. During her term as CEO Miami Lighthouse has gained recognition as a national Center of Excellence through professional publications and presentations.

Click here to view CEO Jacko's full resume including Awards, Publications, Webinars, Presentations and Professional and Community Service.

Richard Fernandez, Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Richard Fernandez joined Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Inc. in September 2014.

Mr. Fernandez has served as a Vice President of Finance and Senior Corporate Accountant for several major Florida-based corporations, including Banyan Health Systems, a major non-profit comprehensive behavioral healthcare provider, where he directed and oversaw the agency's financial planning and administration, including its accounting system. Most recently he served as President of Diligent Accounting Services, a full service accounting firm.

In addition to holding Certification as a Public Accountant for the State of Florida, Mr. Fernandez holds a Bachelor of Accounting and Master of Science in Taxation from Florida International University.

Mr. Fernandez is married to Angeline and has two sons, Daniel and David. Mr. Fernandez and his family reside in Miami Shores, Florida.

Carol Brady-Simmons, Chief Program Officer

Carol Brady-Simmons has been with Miami Lighthouse for more than 28 years and brings vibrant energy and creativity to the many projects she undertakes. She has served in many capacities during her tenure at the Lighthouse, including Chair of Orientation and Mobility; Interim Director of Adult Services, Director of Children's Services and the Low Vision Program and now is our Chief Program Officer.

Ms. Simmons received her Associate of Arts in Elementary Education from Miami-Dade College, a Bachelor of Science in Visual Disabilities, Orientation and Mobility, a Bachelor of Science in Leisure Services and Studies, and a minor in Gerontology from Florida State University.

Cameron Sisser, Manager of External Relations

Cameron Sisser, Senior Vice President for External Relations

Cameron Sisser joined Miami Lighthouse in 2010 and brings extensive experience in network development, alliance building, relationship management, political outreach, and event planning. He previously served as Legislative Assistant to Senator Gwen Margolis and Senator Dan Gelber where he researched, tracked and wrote legislation, press releases, newsletters and policy briefs while interacting daily with community leaders and constituents.

Born in Miami, Cameron attended Ransom Everglades High School which prepared him for The George Washington University in Washington DC, where he graduated in 2005 with a bachelor of arts in political science. Cameron graduated with a Master's in Public Administration from Florida International University in 2011. Cameron also received a Certificate in Fund Raising Management from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in 2019.

Jeff Rabalais, Director of Facilities & Transportation

Jeff Rabalais, Director of Facilities & Transportation

Jeff Rabalais brings to the Lighthouse academic training in architecture and extensive experience in facilities management, space planning, project management, events and food service.

The skills and knowledge he has obtained throughout his career allow him to manage a broad range of services that span client transportation, building maintenance, janitorial needs, in-house catering, disaster preparation and building compliance to maintain a safe, clean, secure environment for our clients, employees and visitors.

Mr. Rabalais obtained his Bachelor of Architecture Degree from the University of Louisiana.


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Florida Heiken Program

Florida Heiken Program

Living with Low Vision?

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Miami Lighthouse is honored by the following



Miami Lighthouse is AER accredited distinguishing that an agency or school operates at the highest level of quality and is positioned to generate the outcomes needed by the clients.

PR Week

Miami Lighthouse received the prestigious 2020 award for "Best in Nonprofit" campaign by PRWeek referred to as the "Oscars of the PR industry".

Charity Navigator

Miami Lighthouse ranks among the elite 1% of U.S. nonprofits having earned 13 consecutive 4-star ratings from Charity Navigator, the nation's premier independent nonprofit evaluator. Receiving such a distinction reflects our sound fiscal management, responsible use of donor dollars, and financial strength.

The Children's Trust

Early Intervention Blind Babies Program Named the Children's Trust 2016 Program of the Year. This most prestigious award recognizes this Early Intervention Program, in particular, for including parents as teachers.


Miami Lighthouse Learning Center for Children™ is a Florida gold seal and nationally Accredited Professional Preschool Learning Environment (APPLE)


Florida Blue Foundation

Miami Lighthouse was recognized at the 2015 Florida Blue Foundation Sapphire Awards luncheon as an organization that has demonstrated excellence and innovation in community health.

The Beacon Council

Miami Lighthouse received the prestigious 2015 Beacon Award in Education at the 13th Annual Beacon Council Awards.

Marlins Charity Partner

Miami Lighthouse is a two-time Charity Partner (2013 and 2014) of the Marlins Foundation and a 2017 Major League Baseball All-Star Game Legacy Partner. Our Florida Heiken Children's Vision Program has received over $300,000 in charitable donations through these partnerships.

Health Foundation of South Florida

Miami Lighthouse received the prestigious 2008 Concern Award from Health Foundation of South Florida.

Miami Today

Miami Lighthouse received a Silver medal at the 2016 Miami Today Gold Medal Awards Ceremony.


Miami New Times - Best of Miami 2017

Miami Lighthouse named "Best of Miami" Charity 2017 by the New Times.

United Homecare

Miami Lighthouse received United Homecare's 2012 Thelma Gibson Community Service Award at the 18th Annual Claude Pepper Memorial Awards Ceremony.

South Florida Business Journal

Miami Lighthouse received the prestigious South Florida Business Journal 2011 Excellence in Health Care Award in the Community Outreach category.

Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce

Miami Lighthouse honored by being named the recipient of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce 2010 Non-Profit Business Diamond Award.


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