Board of Directors
Jane Thornton (Chair)
Co-Founder & C.O.O.
Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind
In 1984, Jane Thornton co-founded Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind located in Manotick (Ottawa), Ontario, Canada. Currently Jane is a Director and Chief Operating Officer for the organization. She is involved in all dimensions of CGDB operations and planning.
Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind is a Founder Member of the International Guide Dog Federation.
Jane Thornton is a qualified Orientation and Mobility Instructor and Technical Officer for the Visually Impaired. She has enjoyed a career in the Blind and Visually Impaired Charity Sector for nearly 40 years.
Prior to immigrating to Canada from England, Jane was a Consultant for the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind and worked for the Royal National Institute for the Blind. In England she was the Head of the Mobility Department of the West of England School for Children with little or no Sight and also ran her own business. Upon arriving in Canada not only did she co- found Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind, she also worked for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and was an Orientation and Mobility Consultant to the Ottawa School Board.
As a member of the International Guide Dog Federation, Jane has worked hard to establish a good working relationship with many of the member schools and continues to do so. She is well respected in her role as C.O.O of Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Jane was elected to the Board in 2006, and then was elected Chair of the IGDF Board March 2010.
John Gosling (DC Liaison)
Manager International Guide Dog Services
Guide Dogs Victoria
In February 2011, John completed 40 years as a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor with Guide Dogs in Australia . The motivation for training Guide Dogs and facilitating the opportunity for people who are blind and visually impaired to realise their independence of mobility has him continue training a small team of clients today.
John who is 62 years of age completed a one year Orientation & Mobility instructor qualification at Victoria College and management training at the Australian Management College. John was Guide Dogs Victoria's Guide Dog Services Manager for 25 years and was the third Assessor appointed by the International Guide Dog Federation in 1991. John completed accreditation assessments in Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Israel, USA and Poland.
John is in his third term of serving on the IGDF Board and has a strong commitment to the expansion of high quality Guide Dogs Services around the world. His Board responsibilities have been directed toward GDMI instructor education and during his current term of service he is the Board Liaison with the Development Committee. John is inspired from the IGDF history and pursues the equity of services for people who are blind and visually impaired regardless of where they live in the world.
Hans Damm (Treasurer)
Association Les Chiens Guides d'Aveugles de l'Ouest
Hans Damm began his work in the guide dog industry over eight years ago. Upon his entry into the field, the Chairman of his Board, Mr. Bourgeois, sent him to visit guide dog organisations across Europe and North America. Visiting and learning from these organisations greatly helped Hans build and improve Association les Chiens Guides d'Aveugles de l'Ouest. Under his guidance, the organisation has increased the number of guide dog teams, added electronic cane training for other blind or vision impaired people, finished the construction of a new school, and initiated a variety of new programs.
As CEO of Association les Chiens Guides d'Aveugles de l'Ouest, Hans is responsible for supervising all activities from marketing and fundraising to guide dog education and strategic development. Along with the Board, Hans ensures that they make the correct strategic decision to best lead the organisation into the future. Awareness of the international guide dog community is very important for making these decisions.
Hans works in three languages on a daily basis, French, English, and German. His experience as a CEO for the past 20 years, along with his passion for the guide dog industry, makes him an asset to the IGDF Board. Hans joined the Board in 2010.
James Kutsch (AC Liaison)
President and CEO
The Seeing Eye
James Kutsch joined The Seeing Eye in September 2006 as President and Chief Executive Officer. Kutsch was previously Vice President of Strategic Technology at Convergys Labs. There he was responsible for evaluating new and emerging technologies and incorporating them into company services.
Before joining Convergys, Kutsch served as Vice President of Computing and Network Services and later Chief Information Officer at AT&T Universal Card Services. Earlier in his AT&T career, he was a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff at Bell Labs. Kutsch was a Professor of Computer Science at West Virginia University from 1976-1979.
Prior to assuming the role of President at The Seeing Eye, he served 10 years on the organization's Board of Trustees. He has lectured nationally on disability awareness, adaptive technology, and advocacy. He has made extensive contributions in product accessibility evaluations, and has published several articles in various professional journals. Kutsch designed and developed the first talking computer for blind computer users in 1975 as his doctoral dissertation research.
Kutsch earned a B.A. in Psychology and an M.S. in Computer Science from West Virginia University. He also holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois.
James Kutsch joined the IGDF Board in November, 2010.
Director of People and Business Services
Guide Dogs for the Blind Association
Head of Guide Dog and Rehabilitation Services
Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind
Japan Guide Dog Association