Dr. Susan Ruzenski, longtime executive director of Helen Keller National Center, has been named chief executive officer of Helen Keller Services (HKS), a national nonprofit organization founded in 1893. HKS is comprised of Helen Keller Services for the Blind (HKSB) and Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC). Ruzenski assumed the role of acting CEO of Helen Keller Services on Oct.1. Ruzenski’s position has now been made permanent. The announcement was made by HKS Board Chairman Larry Kinitsky.
“We are exceedingly pleased to make Sue’s appointment to the chief executive position permanent,” said Kinitsky. “Following a comprehensive national search of candidates demonstrating widely diverse backgrounds and experiences, it became clear without question that Sue stood out among them all as the best all-around. As acting CEO, Sue ably demonstrated her suitability for the role, decisively leading the organization to accomplish its strategic initiatives during a transformative and challenging time. We look forward to working with her and her executive team to continue to advance the goals and mission of Helen Keller Services.”
As chief executive officer, Ruzenski will continue to develop and execute the HKS strategic plan to increase operational effectiveness, set organizational goals, implement strategic learning initiatives and support developmental initiatives across all HKS locations that will benefit HKS consumers.
“It is my great honor to serve Helen Keller Services as chief executive officer,” Ruzenski said. “Throughout my 40 year tenure at HKNC, I have seen the organization make great strides in bringing life changing programs to the deaf-blind community. Today, through its two divisions, Helen Keller Services provides comprehensive services to individuals of all ages who are blind, visually impaired, deaf-blind or have combined hearing and vision loss.
As far as we have come, there is always more work to be done. I am grateful to the organizational team members who contribute to Helen Keller Services every day with their knowledge, skills, experience and passion. It is a privilege to be a part of the HKS team and undoubtedly we are poised to grow and excel as we continue to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.”
After working at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults in a variety of leadership positions for 35 years, Ruzenski became its executive director in October 2014. Her objective has always been to develop and expand service options for individuals who are deaf-blind on a national basis and engage with an adult learning community where opportunities towards meaningful employment, self-advocacy and a preferred community life are achieved. Ruzenski received her B.A. degree (1980) from Dowling College in Special Education; M.A. degree from New York University (1985) in Deaf Education; and Doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University (2019) in Adult Learning and Leadership.
Helen Keller Services’ mission is to enable individuals who are blind, visually-impaired, deaf-blind and/or have combined hearing-vision loss to live, work and thrive in their community of choice. HKS offers services and programs through two divisions: Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults and Helen Keller Services for the Blind. Visit www.helenkeller.org for more information.
—Submitted by Helen Keller National Center