Coleman Lew Canny Bowen

Executive Director, Helen Keller National Center

Helen Keller Services

Helen Keller Services is a national organization whose mission is to enable individuals who are blind, visually impaired, DeafBlind, or have combined hearing and vision loss to live, work, and thrive in the communities of their choice. Headquartered in Brooklyn, NY, and with services offered across the country, HKS offers programs through two divisions: Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youths and Adults (HKNC) and Helen Keller Services for the Blind (HKSB).

Headquartered in Sands Point, Long Island, Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youths and Adults (HKNC) is the only national comprehensive vocational and rehabilitation program that provides information, referral, support, and training exclusively to youths and adults who have a combined hearing and vision loss, their families, and the professionals who work with them. HKNC has an operating budget of $30 million and a team of 150.

Helen Keller Services for the Blind (HKSB) is a comprehensive rehabilitation program serving individuals of all ages, who are blind or visually impaired and who may have additional disabilities, living in the New York metropolitan area.

HKS has an annual operating budget of over $100 million and staff of approximately 300 across 11 locations throughout the US. It relies on funds from public programs (state and federal), grants, legacies, private donations, earnings from an investment portfolio, and fundraising activities.

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This individual will report directly to the Chief Executive Officer of HKS. Direct reports include Associate Executive Director, Director of Direct Services (HKNC), Director of Information, Research, and Professional Development (IRPD), Director of Field Services (HKNC), and an Administrative Assistant.

The Executive Director, Helen Keller National Center is responsible for the execution of HKS’s mission, goals, and objectives with specific focus on the HKNC. This individual is responsible for operating the HKNC within the policies defined by the rules, regulations, and guidelines established by the Department of Education, Special Institutions in Federal Government. The Executive Director is responsible for operating the HKNC within the Charter, Constitution, and by the By-laws of HKS.

Specific duties include, but are not limited to:

  • Develop, plan, and execute HKNC’s mission, congressional mandates, and objectives in a clear manner, formulating effective policies and growth initiatives to achieve the objectives of the HKNC; utilize accepted management principles and effective collaboration among local, state, and national organizations.
  • Coordinate national service delivery among the HKNC primary service areas: Direct Services, Field Services, and IRPD.
  • Collaborate with CEO to perform reporting and ongoing communication with the Project Officer and others at the US Department of Education.
  • Ensure performance measurement of service outcomes are developed and maintained to report, assess, and improve programs and services.
  • Oversee state contracts and delivery of services with youth and adults who are DeafBlind through various HKNC field programs and grants.
  • Assist in writing and execution of grants to support HKNC’s mission.
  • Develop, communicate, and interpret policy with all members of the management team.
  • Establish and maintain clear channels of communication within the organization.
  • Initiate plans and actions promptly, applying approved management and interpersonal techniques and methods in achieving the objectives of the Helen Keller National Center.
  • Develop and administer the HKNC strategic plan and fiscal management goals.
  • Provide and prepare all necessary reporting plans and projects to accomplish the overall objective of the HKNC.
  • Report necessary information to the Board of Trustees and HKNC National Advisory Committee and applicable regulatory agencies of the federal government.
  • Execute supervisory responsibilities in accordance with the organization’s policies and applicable laws – interview, hire, train employees; plan, assign, direct work; appraise performance, reward, discipline employees; address complaints, resolve problems.
  • Accountable for the cost-effective use of HKS resources (financial and human resources).
  • Responsible for program and project budgets in accordance with the strategic parameters set forth by HKS; achieve program goals in a cost-effective and efficient manner to meet or exceed budget expectations.
  • National travel to site locations required.


  • At least fifteen years’ experience working in a similar organization or associated human services industry.
  • Effective leader with a commitment to HKS’s mission and values.
  • High level of accountability for him/herself and others; responsive, resourceful, and follows through on all tasks; able to communicate consistent and meaningful information and feedback to others.
  • Able to work collaboratively alongside team members while driving results towards team goals; able to build and maintain positive and respectful employee relationships.
  • Demonstrated understanding and awareness of cultural and individual diversity; passion for diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
  • Passionate about meeting individual accessibility and communication needs across teams.
  • Able to establish and maintain effective customer relationships, meet commitments, and respond quickly to customer needs. 
  • Innovative leader who probes relevant sources for answers, provides thorough analysis, and generates ideas and solutions to problems.
  • Adept at building and supporting high-performing teams, attracting/retaining talent, and providing education, training, and development opportunities for the staff.
  • Communicative leader who will keep direct reports informed, identify opportunities, and display drive and achievement; can lead and manage through change and able to gain staff “buy-in.”
  • Able to provide clear vision and direction for staff and manage expectations, set goals and objectives for others, track progress, and distribute workload appropriately.
  • Skilled in American Sign Language; excellent communication skills, both written and verbal.
  • Experience with managing performance in a systematic and objective manner.
  • Master’s degree required.

Compensation will be commensurate with experience including a competitive base salary and competitive benefits package.

Robin Bagby, Senior Associate
[email protected]