Thomas A. Panek is the president and chief executive officer of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a New York-based nonprofit organization that provides guide dogs to individuals with vision loss. 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 “Running Guides” program.
Prior to joining Guiding Eyes, Panek was vice president of relationship management at National Industries for the Blind in Washington, DC, where he was responsible for providing employment opportunities for people who are blind or have significant disabilities in the manufacture and delivery of products and services to the Federal Government, supporting America’s wounded warriors.
Panek began his executive career as senior international trade specialist for the United States Foreign Commercial Service, where he worked with American embassies to expand business opportunities for U.S. exporters. He is an expert in trade agreements, export regulations, and negotiating international business transactions.
Panek graduated with a master’s degree from American University School of International Service, with a focus on International Law. An avid runner, Panek has completed more than 20 marathons, including five Boston Marathons. In 2019, he became the first blind runner to complete the New York City Half Marathon guided entirely by dogs. He lives in New York with his wife Melissa, their four children, and two Labradors, including his guide dog Blaze — all runners too.