Getting to Know Ben Lombardo, 2020 Employee of the Year
Benjamin Lombardo, Human Resources Generalist at the Austin Lighthouse, is our 2020 Blind Indirect Labor Employee of the Year. Ben, who started at the Lighthouse in 2016, is well-known by employees for his calm demeanor, relatability and great personality. He sat down with his HR colleague, Lakeisha Ridgell, last November for a one-on-one interview.
LR: When did you first hear about TAB?
BL: In 2016, I attended a Job Fair and met Glen Hopkins. When I passed by the Austin Lighthouse booth, Glen saw me walking with a cane and informed me of the mission at the Travis Association for the Blind.
LR: What was life like before you began working for TAB?
BL: I had my life planned out to be self-employed working in real estate. I would drive on long country roads all over central Texas to find foreclosed houses. I had contracts with the bank to list these properties on the MLS (multiple listing site). I knew that I would eventually lose my vision but did not expect it not to come back this time. My vision always fluctuated, so if I had a “bad eye day” it would usually get better. One day I had a flare up that prevented me from being able to see and when I went to the doctor, they informed me that the damage to my optic nerve was so severe that my vision would not return. This put me in a depression and was unmotivated to find a new career.
LR: What gets you out of bed in the morning?
BL: The unknown experiences to come.
LR: What is your biggest achievement to date – personal or professional?
BL: I am going to be a father! This is not the hardest thing to do but it is what I believe is my biggest achievement.
LR: What three words would you use to describe your role?
BL: THE PROBLEM SOLVER!
LR: What is on your wish list for your next five years here?
BL: To get the word out to every blind Texan that there is a place to go to start over and with determination be successful
LR: What do you like most about your job?
BL: The people that surround me. I have a great team and when walking through the halls everybody has something positive to say.
LR: What advice would you give to recent new hires?
BL: Working here is just a starting point. Always stay focused on what you truly want to do and with that determination will lead to opportunity.
LR: What’s your most memorable facepalm moment?
BL: As a blind person, these are common for me. One time I was speaking with a familiar voice, giving information that I felt comfortable giving to this trusting person. Turns out I was speaking to someone that I had just met moments before.
LR: What is your motto or personal mantra?
BL: Limits, like fear is often just an illusion!
LR: Given a chance, who would you like to be for a day and why?
BL: Bob Lazar, just to see what really happened.
LR: What do you do when you’re not learning the ropes of HR?
BL: I like to eat, explore food trucks and go down rabbit holes on YouTube.
LR: What is your guilty pleasure?
BL: Live Music and BBQ
LR: So what’s next?
BL: Living in the now means it is always a surprise as to what is next. I have general goals but enjoy the randomness of life.
LR: Is there a question that I did not ask you that I should have asked?
BL: No, I am just grateful for the opportunities the Lighthouse has provided.
Update: Ben is now the proud father of a healthy baby boy. Tryp Wilde Lombardo was born on February 3, 2021.
Congratulations, Ben,! Click the video below for more: