Philanthropy and its economic impact in the Greater San Antonio area

Speaker Bios

Cindy Watson

President and CEO

As a young adult growing up in Texas, Cindy fell in love with service. Inspired by the many mentors, teachers and service providers who helped her to overcome challenges related to vision loss, she developed a deep passion for empowering people facing similar experiences. This resolve stuck with her, leading her to earning her BS in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in special education from the University of Houston. The first seven years of Cindy’s professional career were devoted to supporting the career goals of blind Texans with the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services-Blind Division.

Equipped with a comprehensive understanding of the factors that affect unemployment and underemployment for people who are blind, Cindy wanted to find ways to make a greater impact through leadership. With this new dream, Cindy returned to the University of Houston to obtain her MBA and completed a two-year fellowship for leadership development with the National Industries for the Blind. The program enabled Cindy to gain an in-depth understanding of how the AbilityOne Program harnesses federal government procurement to create employment opportunities for over 45,000 disabled Americans through community-based nonprofits.

For the past thirteen years, Cindy has held nonprofit leadership roles with IFB Solutions, the Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind, and the American Foundation for the Blind. In 2018 she joined The Lighthouse for the Blind as Senior Vice President and became the President and CEO in 2019. Headquartered in Seattle, the nonprofit employs roughly 500 people; 270 who are blind, deaf blind, and blind with other disabilities. The Lighthouse has an operating budget exceeding $100M and career opportunities range from manufacturing aerospace parts and office products to delivering retail and contract management services. In addition, the Lighthouse provides a wide array of support programs including

braille courses, assistive technology training, low vision services, and orientation-mobility training. Under Cindy’s leadership, the newly created strategic direction has resulted in record sales, employment for people who are blind and community members served.

Throughout Watson’s 20-year career, she has dedicated herself to empowering, advocating, and creating career pathways for people who are blind. She attributes her success to her authentic leadership style, high energy, focus on results, and unmatched passion for the mission. Cindy is committed to serving both locally and nationally. She is an active Rotarian with the Seattle 4 Rotary Club. Her board service includes six years on the national board of the American Foundation for the Blind and currently serves on the board of the National Association of Employment for People who are Blind.

Cindy is married with two sons. She enjoys spending time with

her family traveling, engaging in scouting activities, and cheering on the sidelines of the baseball fields. She also enjoys making time to run and work out with her husband.

Amy Lane

Vice President, Communications & Development San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind

Amy Lane brings over a decade of nonprofit management experience to the San Antonio Lighthouse team. Previously, she served as the Executive Director of Partnerships and the North East Educational Foundation (NEEF) for one of the state’s largest school districts, North East ISD. Under her leadership, NEEF awarded more than $3 million in grants, all raised through grassroots funding, and doubled the size of their investments. In 2021, the Texas Education Foundation Network awarded NEEF its top honor of Distinguished Achievement Award for their diverse approach to supporting its District during the pandemic. Lane previously worked in public relations for the Texas Department of Agriculture in Austin and served as Associate Director of Communications for former San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger and his namesake park, the Hardberger Park Conservancy. Lane, a summa cum laude graduate, received her B.A. in Journalism and Geography from Texas State University. She holds an M.A. in Corporate Communication/Digital Media from Baylor University and was chosen to present her research paper at the 96th National Communication Association conference in San Francisco. Amy was selected as a 2020-21 member of Class 45 of Leadership San Antonio.

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