President & CEO
Thomas A. Panek is the president and CEO of Guiding Eyes, one of the world’s leading canine development and training centers. Under Panek’s leadership since 2014, Guiding Eyes continues to be an international leader and pioneer in the service animal field, including the first-of-its-kind specialized training program for running guide dogs.
Panek previously served as Vice President of Relationship Management at National Industries for the Blind, where he served on the leadership team and was responsible for the Wounded Warriors program, helping Veterans transition to civilian life.
Prior to his non-profit leadership roles, Panek served in the United States Foreign Commercial Service at the Commerce Department as a Senior International Trade Specialist in Washington, DC. His duty assignments took him overseas to American embassies, as well as to Multilateral Development Bank Operations, the Office of the Director General and the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Chicago. He spent five years imbedded in the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Washington, DC.
Panek holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from American University School of International Service, with a focus on International Law and Organization at the Washington College of Law. An avid marathon runner, Panek ranks amongst the top athletes in the Visually Impaired Division of the Boston and New York Marathons. In 2019, he became the first runner to compete in the New York City Half Marathon guided by dogs, and in 2020, he became the first blind athlete to run a self-guided 5K solo through Central Park in New York City. Thomas lives in Westchester County, New York with his wife Melissa and their four teenage children. He is guided by a friendly yellow Labrador Retriever named “Blaze.”