Seeing Eye president achieves another landmark first for the blind

Congratulations to Jim Kutsch, president and CEO of The Seeing Eye in Morris Township, for his historic selection as chairman of the International Guide Dog Federation, which accredits more than 80 guide dog federations around the world.

IN TANDEM: Biking teams of Ginger Kutsch and Kirsten Hotchkiss and Jim Kutsch and Rob Steidlitz. Ginger and Jim are blind; Jim is president of The Seeing Eye. Kirsten and Rob, who are married, are the 'captains' of their respective tandems. They will ride for The Seeing Eye in the Gran Fondo NJ on Aug. 28. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

IN TANDEM: Seeing Eye CEO Jim Kutsch, second from right, before tandem ride with Rob Steidlitz. To his far left is his wife, Ginger Kutsch, and her riding partner, Kirsten Hotchkiss. Ginger and Jim are blind. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Jim is the first blind person, and the first graduate of a guide dog school, to chair the federation.

In 2006, he became the first blind person to lead The Seeing Eye since its inception in 1929.

“I am truly honored and humbled to be elected to this position. It’s a reflection of the high regard in which The Seeing Eye is held by other guide dog schools around the world,” Jim said in a statement.

Ken Rosenthal, Jim’s predecessor as Seeing Eye president, was federation chair a few years ago.

Morristown tour patrons listen to Jim Kutsch of The Seeing Eye. The Morris County Tourism Bureau sponsored the tour. Photo by Rachael Moore.

Morristown tour patrons listen to Jim Kutsch of The Seeing Eye at 2013 tour sponsored by the Morris County Tourism Bureau. Photo by Rachael Moore.

Jim and Vegas–Jim’s eighth Seeing Eye dog–are familiar sights on the streets of Morristown.

Additionally, the federation has named two Seeing Eye employees as assessors.

Peggy Gibbon and Lukas Franck will visit guide dog schools around the world to ensure that accreditation standards are met.

Peggy serves as director of canine development at The Seeing Eye; Lukas has been an instructor for more than 30 years.

Below are more details from The Seeing Eye:


Seeing Eye President & CEO Jim Kutsch Elected to Chair International Guide Dog Federation

Two Seeing Eye Employees Become IGDF Assessors

MORRISTOWN, N.J. – Dr. James A. Kutsch, Jr., President and CEO of The Seeing Eye, has been elected chairman of the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) – the first blind person, and also the first graduate of a guide dog school, to hold the position. In addition, two Seeing Eye employees have been named Assessors for the organization, which accredits more than 80 guide dog training organizations around the world.

Kutsch was elected at the most recent IGDF seminar, held last month in Japan. Ken Rosenthal, who was Kutsch’s predecessor as President of The Seeing Eye, served as IGDF chairman from 2002 through 2006.

“It’s unusual for the IGDF to elect two chairs of the board from the same school,” Kutsch said. “I am truly honored and humbled to be elected to this position. It’s a reflection of the high regard in which The Seeing Eye is held by other guide dog schools around the world.”

Kutsch, who currently resides in The Seeing Eye’s hometown of Morristown, N.J., first graduated from The Seeing Eye in 1970, just after completing his freshman year at West Virginia University. Last year he completed training with his eighth Seeing Eye® dog, a German shepherd named Vegas. In 2006, Kutsch joined The Seeing Eye as President and CEO, becoming the first Seeing Eye dog owner to hold the position.

Peggy Gibbon, The Seeing Eye’s Director of Canine Development, and Lukas Franck, a Seeing Eye instructor with over 30 years of experience, have been named as Assessors for the IGDF. In this role, they will travel to guide dog schools around the globe to determine if they meet the organization’s criteria for accreditation.

About The Seeing Eye

Established in 1929, The Seeing Eye provides specially bred and trained dogs to guide people who are blind. Seeing Eye® dog users experience greatly enhanced mobility and independence, allowing them to retain their active lifestyles despite blindness. The Seeing Eye is a philanthropy supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, bequests, and other planned gifts.

The Seeing Eye is a trademarked name and can only be used to describe the dogs bred and trained at the school’s facilities in Morristown, N.J. If you would like more information on The Seeing Eye, please visit the website at www.SeeingEye.org, call (973) 539-4425, or email info@seeingeye.org.

About the IGDF

The International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) is an organization comprised of member guide dog organizations from around the world. IGDF works with these member organizations on a variety of things, including monitoring the quality of guide dogs that the schools produce. However it does not actually train dogs, mobility instructors, or dog trainers. Those tasks are done by each member school in the country in which they are based.



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