In the 1980s, Gidget Hopf was responsible for bringing jobs to hundreds of blind and disabled people in Rochester when she spearheaded a relationship between the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired and 3M Corp. to produce and distribute sticky notes via a contract with the federal government.
Now, the Goodwill of the Finger Lakes and ABVI CEO will parlay that unflinching leadership into bringing the first Excel Center to Rochester. On Tuesday, Hopf said she will retire from the role she has held for nearly three decades and will continue her work to bring the center here.
Hopf, who will retire on June 30 next year, will hand the torch to Jennifer Lake, vice president of donated goods/retail and people resources, who has been named president of the nonprofit.
“It is with a mixture of joy and sadness that I move into this next stage of my life’s journey,” Hopf said in a statement. “It has been an honor and a privilege to have had the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives and our community. I look forward to continuing to do so by working every day to bring the Excel Center to fruition.”
Hopf joined ABVI in 1986 as CEO and at the time it was the only organization in a 7-county region that provided comprehensive vision rehabilitation and employment for people who are blind or visually impaired.
In 1994, Hopf forged an affiliation with Goodwill Industries International to increase the positive impact that the organization had on the community. Goodwill now has 10 retail stores, two outlet stores, a clearance center and 10 donation centers in the Rochester and Syracuse areas, employing some 400 people.
“Throughout my tenure, I’ve always challenged myself and others, asking what we can do to remove barriers so that we can achieve more and make greater impact in the lives of the people we serve,” Hopf said.
Under Hopf’s lead, ABVI developed a call center that now employs more than 100 individuals supporting a variety of commercial and governmental contracts. Through her leadership, the nonprofit has grown into a $50 million social enterprise with 90 percent of its revenue self-generated by four employment-creating businesses.
The not-for-profit organization has more than 700 employees, many with barriers to self-sufficiency.
Lake joined Goodwill in 2007 and serves as the liaison to the board of directors for strategic planning.
“I’ve been very fortunate to work with Gidget, as she is such a stellar example of a transformational leader,” Lake said in a statement. “I’m excited to work with our employees, community partners, shoppers and donors and the people we serve. I plan to build on Gidget’s vision of empowering people with barriers to independence to be self-sufficient and contribute to their families and communities.”
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