Ken Duke is a native of Utah and has lived in Salt Lake City for most of his
life as a blind individual who strives to LIVE THE LIFE HE WANTS.
Ken has been a member of the National Federation of the Blind of Utah (Salt
Lake Chapter) since 2004. Ken has held multiple positions throughout the
years and is currently the Salt Lake Chapter President. He is honored to
work with such a great board of directors and NFB members.
As a young man, Ken loved working with wood to build furniture and set his
career aspirations to work as a carpenter/furniture builder. He was
diagnosed in 1982 with an eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa, knowing
that this was a degenerative disease and would eventually render him permanently
and legally blind in both eyes. His focus on personal and professional goals were
adjusted to accommodate his needs so he could continue to provide for his family.
He ultimately chose to focus on other educational opportunities and career paths.
After graduating with a Computer Science degree, Ken was employed as an
Information Technology (IT) professional for over 25 years. He has been a successful
programmer, software engineer, and project manager with the aid of assistive technologies
such as JAWS and screen magnifiers. Over the years, however, Ken’s vision had deteriorated to
the point that employment options needed to change once again. About the matter, Ken said, “Advancements
in graphical user interfaces resulted in new challenges and ever-changing expectations and duties
on the job. The visual demands required of me made it impossible to keep up with the levels of
performance necessary to keep my position as a software engineer.” Making the best of limited choices,
Ken therefore took early retirement and decided to pursue new employment and educational opportunities.
He elected to go back to the University of Utah and completed his undergraduate degree (BS), majoring
in Business Management. In addition to being a full-time student, he was elected and served
for one year as the President of the U of U Business School’s Information
Systems Technology club.
Ken has been able to serve on numerous occasions as a director, board
officer, and committee member for many years in various organizations. In
addition to Ken’s current NFB positions he is serving as the President of
the Utah Achilles chapter, which transforms the lives of people with
disabilities through athletic programs and social connection.
With Ken’s background in Information Technology and the use of business
administration skills, he is helping companies improve their procedures
using lean six sigma methodologies to stream-line their processes. Ken is
always looking for opportunities to introduce new technologies in the
workplace in order to enhance efficiencies in an individual’s duties and tasks.
Ken has had numerous opportunities to lead and serve in organizations that
focus on assisting others to reach their potential. Ken says, “Whether as a
father, husband, president, chairman, board member, student, missionary or
volunteer- in each case the main objectives are to work together to achieve
a common goal. I am a large recipient of service every day of my life.
My family, friends, and colleagues uplift me with opportunities to grow and with
experiences that advance my intellect. I also receive service in regards to my
personal health in the form of running partners. Without them I would not have
been able to finish 58 marathons or be a part of the 1996 and 2002 Olympic
torch relay. It seems only equitable that with so much service rendered to me
that I make it a priority to serve in the capacities in which I am able to
contribute.” One of Ken’s idols is Albert Einstein (1954) and he once wrote that, “A hundred times
every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the
labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order
to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.”
Ken feels that it is important to connect and serve with other members in
the blind community to collaborate and aid in realizing each individual’s strengths and
ambitions. Being a part of the NFB organization provides invaluable help to
him as he continues to move forward in serving and growing with others.