Guiding Eyes is pleased to announce that Jane Russenberger, Senior Director of Canine Development, has received the International Guide Dog Federation’s (IGDF) Ken Lord Award. Presented at the 2014 IGDF Seminar in Tokyo, Japan, the prestigious award is IGDF’s highest honor. Russenberger is the first female recipient as well as the first honoree outside of a training department.
Nearly three hundred delegates, representing sixty guide dog schools from around the world, attended the 2014 IGDF Seminar hosted by the Japan Guide Dog Association. Guiding Eyes staff members presented papers in two of the seminar’s six general sessions.
Named for the IGDF’s co-founder and former chairman, the Ken Lord Award is a biennial award established in 2001 to recognize the lifetime commitment of an individual to the guide dog movement. Russenberger received an outpouring of support and three standing ovations from her peers for her 31 years of collaborative and visionary contributions to the field of guide dogs.
“I am deeply honored to receive this award and share it with all of my colleagues at Guiding Eyes,” said Russenberger. “We work together to achieve great things through our innovation and passion for serving people who are blind and visually impaired and families with children with autism. I am proud to be part of this wonderful organization and look forward to the journey ahead.”
“Perhaps most remarkable about Jane is her willingness to share her knowledge with guide dog schools across the globe,” said Tom Panek, President and CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind. “There are few guide dogs in the world today who haven’t been touched in some way by Jane’s research.”
Guiding Eyes’ STEP® program has been overseen by Russenberger since its inception. The program utilizes a relationship-based approach to training in which volunteers teach puppies essential skills in sequential steps. As a result, young adult dogs entering professional training are better socialized, more responsive and able to easily connect with their handlers.
“Jane’s work has also been a driving force in the global movement to breed healthy guide dogs with confident, stable temperaments,” said Panek. “She is passionate about our shared mission – enabling freedom for people to achieve life’s goals.”
Russenberger continues to develop new relationships to improve and track health and temperament, such as a mass cell research partnership with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and a behavior characteristics project with the University of Pennsylvania. She has spoken at conferences around the world and, in her free time, has volunteered to raise guide dog puppies.