23 Oct East Texas Lighthouse for the Blind employee receives national award for his advocacy, work to help visually impaired people
“Most of my flooring business was tied to new construction, so I was hit hard by the housing crash of 2008. After I lost my eyesight in 2009, I did interview for a lot of management positions, but as soon as I mentioned my vision loss, I never got a second call,” Ellis said.
Ellis then applied for Horizon Industries, fearing that it would go the same way as other interviews. But he would later learn that Horizon Industries is a division of East Texas Lighthouse for the Blind.
Instead of getting that job, ETLB created the inventory planner position for him to develop a successful state-use boot program. In 2016, Ellis applied and became the new employment services specialist, which is a program he assisted in creating.
Four years after that, he was promoted to his current position of community relations administrator, allowing him to develop relationships and increase awareness about blindness
“Now I sell hope and empowerment. It’s the most gratifying thing I’ve ever sold,” Ellis said. “For the first time in my life, I know I’m right where God wants me to be.”
He gives credit to NIB for helping his career grow. He was a pilot of the Professional Mastery of Office Technology for Employment program at ETLB and he’s in active participant in NIB’s Advocates for Leadership and Employment program.
Alicia Lansford, ETLB vice president and chief mission officer, called seeing Ellis grow upward has been one of the most rewarding experiences of her career.
“Not because he is blind,” she said. “But because he has found true joy and meaning in helping others overcome the same challenges he faced when he was new to vision loss. Simply put, Craig is our mission.”
Leona Holloman, ETLB president and CEO, added Ellis’ passion for ETLB’s mission is at the center of his conversations and actions.