I was happy to interview Kate Grathwol, CEO of Vision Loss Resources, for my monthly column in Minnesota Business magazine. She’s earned the nickname “Kate the Great” from her WPO group for her wise and happy demeanor, which she says is a result of always doing “the next right thing.”
“Let me begin by stating the obvious: Kate Grathwol has a lot to manage. She serves as CEO of Vision Loss Resources (VLR), a nonprofit organization that is the state’s largest provider of services, skills and support for people who are experiencing vision loss. VLR is primarily funded by Contract Production Services (CPS), a quick-turn, multifaceted, outsource packaging, assembly and light manufacturing company. Kate runs both businesses and expresses her values of service and community each day through her work and leadership.
Managing the competing needs of a business and a social service agency can be difficult, but Kate balances the two by staying true to the mission and reminding both businesses they serve each other. “We all do better when we all do better,” explains Kate. “The most important thing is that our clients are being served and they are happy. It is a juggling act, but the overarching theme is service before self.” This service continues to provide inspiration after eight years of serving as CEO. “Many of our clients come through the door terrified because they have lost their vision and feel they have lost their independence,” shares Kate. “After we teach them skills and share our resources, they come back to life. They realize there is a way to go on living and completely embrace it.”
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