Randy Pierce was perfect to lead Future in Sight. Now, he is

  • Randy Pierce of Future in Sight. Courtesy Future in Sight

  • Randy Pierce tries on hiking shoes at Eastern Mountain Sports in Peterborough during a visit with his now-wife Tracy Goyette, back left, and his dog Quinn in June 2010. Pierce was planning a hike up Mount Washington. Monadnock Ledger-Transcript file

  • Randy Pierce and Autumn hiked up the red trail of the south peak of Uncanoonuc mountain in Goffstown in 2017. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor file

Monitor columnist
Published: 11/29/2021 10:21:01 AM

Randy Pierce didn’t wait to start his job as the CEO of Concord-based Future in Sight.

The new leader – aided by this very organization shortly after he went blind more than 30 years ago – is already attending meetings and basically working full-time, two weeks before his real starting date of Dec. 6.

“This is the kind of work you dig into immediately because it’s important,” said Pierce, 55, who lives in Nashua.

His appointment was announced last week. He’s the poster boy for grit, inside and out of the visually-impaired community, in the Granite State and beyond. He lost his sight at age 22, then, after a period of self-pity and despair, returned better than ever, scaling the Granite State’s 48 4,000-foot mountains, scaling mountains in other countries, scaling all sorts of mountains all over the place.

“I hear from people that say what I do is ridiculous,” Pierce told me. “I hear that sometimes, but we all face adversity. It’s your choice what to do about it.”

He opened his own nonprofit, 2020 Vision Quest, 10 years ago, offering guidance and raising money to support sight-impaired people, a role that fits Pierce like a tailored suit.

The need at Future in Sight arose after the passing of former CEO George Theriault. A search committee narrowed the field from 24 to eight candidates – three of whom were legally blind – and chose Pierce.

Board Chair David Hagen and his team got what they wanted, plus a whole lot more. That included Pierce’s experience on Future in Sight’s board of directors, including a stint as chairman. Hagen said visual impairment served as neither a plus nor a minus for the candidates.

“He had the knowledge of Future in Sight and was involved in our mission for many years,” Hagen said. “He brought his passion for our mission to the interview, and that combined with his experience of running a nonprofit was just a food fit.”

The mission, according to its website, is to provide blind people and the visually impaired with “services in education, rehabilitation and social services to infants and toddlers, children (3-21,) adults and seniors.”

It’s clear that Pierce has made this his life. He says support from his wife, Tracy, was invaluable as he moved to the next step in his career, continuing the presence he’s established as a media darling, a pioneer and an inspiration.

“We know how to communicate,” Pierce said of Tracy, “and I would not be making this decision without my wife.”

This latest chapter, focusing on Pierce’s new position at Future in Sight, newsworthy as it may be, is part of a much bigger story. One that has raised Pierce’s standing in sight-impaired circles for years now.

He graduated from the University of New Hampshire and was working as a hardware design engineer. He loved playing football and basketball.

That was when the sudden onset of a neurological disorder cost Pierce his vision in his right eye and half in his left. Two weeks later, he was totally blind.

Just like that. This is where Pierce reminded me that what you see now is not always what you had.

Yes, he was depressed, he moped around, he felt all was lost.

“That was a significant change, with all the emotion you got through,” Pierce said. “There was denial, anger, I felt hopeless and helpless, that I’d never do anything again, and the reality was I could have been right. We have a choice, stay or grow.”

He said most people will make the necessary changes to adapt to a major change in life. Sooner or later.

He set goals. With his late guide dog, Quinn, Pierce climbed all 48 4,000 footers in the Granite State. Just the two of them, man and dog, side by side.

He attended Patriots games, and his loyalty and backstory earned him Patriots Fan of the Year honors. Linebacker Tedy Bruschi greeted Pierce at his stadium seat after wins.

Then Bruschi suffered a stroke in 2005. He sought mental and emotional help from Pierce, fully aware of his accomplishments, his drive to succeed, sometimes climbing mountains in snow, never seeing the trail.

He climbed the Andes in Peru and Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. He explored the Scottish Highlands. Since then, Pierce has run marathons, hiked the grand canyon, and gotten married.

He’s delivered dozens of keynote speeches, served as a TED Talk presenter twice, given college commencement speeches and appeared on Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night show.

He founded 2020 Vision Quest and now will lead another organization whose members see clarity while others don’t.

Pierce’s vision is as clear as ever, and he’s not waiting until Dec. 6 to put his plan into action.

“I know what work is required,” Pierce said. “The most important thing is to have relationships with all the people essential to make this work. You can build connections, and you may change a life.”

Ray Duckler bio photo

Ray Duckler, our intrepid columnist, focuses on the Suncook Valley. He floats from topic to topic, searching for the humor or sadness or humanity in each subject. A native New Yorker, he loves the Yankees and Giants. The Red Sox and Patriots? Not so much.

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