Widely respected for her exemplary work record, professionalism, and positive attitude, it was Pam Chesser’s reputation as the go-to person at NIB associated nonprofit agency Travis Association for the Blind, better known as the Austin Lighthouse, that helped her bring home the Peter J. Salmon Award.
The Award, which honors employees who excel in their positions at NIB associated agencies, is named for the late Dr. Peter J. Salmon, who was instrumental in passage of the Wagner O-Day Act and the formation of NIB.
“There are not many people around that have such a large impact in the community as well as at work, but Pam is one of them,” says Lighthouse President and CEO Jim Meehan. “We are incredibly fortunate to have her on our team!”
Meehan said Chesser is the go-to person for coworkers who need support and assistance with the technologies used to run the Lighthouse’s large distribution center. She is also frequently called upon to provide demonstrations to U.S. Department of Defense officials, community organizations, and other groups explaining how technologies allow Lighthouse employees to process orders for SKILCRAFT® products and other products provided through the AbilityOne® Program accurately and efficiently.
“I can’t say exactly how I first got the reputation as a go-to person,” Chesser says, “but it most likely began with my position as a back-up receptionist, which I held for about nine years.” Chesser initially came to the Lighthouse in 2005, left for a few years, then returned in 2009 and has pursued a career at the agency ever since.
In addition to her formal job duties, Chesser provides services such as training to community members and new employees about working with people who are blind, and assisting employees facing language barriers or who need to build self-confidence.
“I feel a great sense of accomplishment when some of those employees I’ve worked with start advocating for themselves,” she says.
Chesser strongly believes that everyone can be successful with the proper tools and training. “All of the challenges we face in life help us become stronger and self-advocacy skills give us the power to be the best that we can be.”
A Houston native, Chesser earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in education with an emphasis on autism and developmental disabilities from the University of Texas. She is a mother of six, including twin boys, and also active in the community, where she plays beep baseball with the Austin Blackhawks, is involved with the Girl Scouts, and participates in several events sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind.
Acknowledging that balancing all those activities became more difficult during the pandemic, she nonetheless expresses great confidence in the future.
“I deeply appreciate everyone who supported me for the Salmon Award,” she says. “I promise to continue working hard and motivating others to feel more confident about themselves.”