Employee Spotlight: Production Lead and Travelnista Demetria Sanford

Demetria poses between a Texas and American flag.
Photo Credit: Bobby Maciejewski

Demetria Sanford is our 2023 Texas State Use Employee of the Year and nominee for the WorksWonders Artie Lee Hinds Award. She’s been with the Lighthouse for 11 years and is a rising star in our skin care department. Her journey , filled with big dreams and tremendous success, has been truly inspiring.

A Dream Deferred

Demetria holding her certificate at the awards dinner. She wears a cocktail dress with her hair down. She's slightly smiling at the camera.
Demetria Sanford attends the 16th Annual WorkQuest Dinner as a nominee for the Artie Lee Hinds Employee of the Year Award on September 25, 2023. Photo Credit: Brandi Cortez

Originally from Houston, Demetria came to Austin to attend the Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center for blind and visually impaired adults, where she learned independent living skills and pursued her dream of becoming a fashion designer. Demetria, who is legally blind due to Albinism, enrolled in sewing classes and dreamed of modeling on runways. As health issues started to arise, those dreams began to fade.

“I just knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with modeling and designing. It would be too much,” said Demetria.

Through it all, her spirits remained high. She relied on her faith and trusted God had a plan for her. When a sewing machine operator position became available at the Austin Lighthouse, she jumped at the opportunity.

Demetria joined the team that produced helmet suspension straps for the U.S. Army through the AbilityOne Program. Her passion for growth and development led her to explore other areas in the company. She worked in production for military belts, award plaques, binders, and skin care in Austin before moving to the Lighthouse’s Regional Logistic Support Center in Taylor to work in Quality.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic swept the nation, and it was all hands on deck at the Lighthouse’s Lippman Center skin care production building. Orders were flying in for the PURELL SKILCRAFT hand sanitizer produced through a co-brand partnership with GOJO Industries. Demetria returned to Austin to help answer the nation’s call to service.

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Moving on Up

Demetria’s positive attitude and impressive work ethic led to her promotion to production lead in Skin Care. “Demetria shows so much potential. She has taken advantage of every opportunity she gets here at the Lighthouse,” says Director of Manufacturing Brandi Cortez. “She uses these opportunities to grow as a person and as a leader. Her development has a strong, positive impact on those around her.”

In this role, Demetria assists supervisors with training, operations, and ensuring the work environment is safe and employees follow safety protocols,

“I love this job,” Demetria exclaims. “I’m learning the ins and outs of skin care, improving my communication skills, and learning to work with all types of disabilities.”

Demetria doesn’t know what’s next for her in her career, but she’s sticking with her strategy of letting God lead the way and she will follow. “Putting God first is the most important thing.”

A Dream Realized

In her free time, Demetria enjoys reading, watching TV, and learning new things. However, her absolute favorite pastime is traveling. She has been on eight cruises to sunny destinations including Tulum, Jamaica, and the Bahamas. On each trip, she takes excursions to experience the local culture and embraces her adventurous side with activities like ziplining, horseback riding, jet-skiing, and swimming.

And every now and then, you’ll find her posing in product advertisements for the Lighthouse or walking fiercely down a runway, serving face and living her dreams.

Demetria wears a long dress with dramatic makeup and her hair pulled back as she walks down a runway.
Demetria Sanford walks the runway att a fashion show in Austin, Texas on September 10, 2015. Photo Credit: Catherine Simon