I N -AER Conference
Jack Chen was appointed to the ACVREP Board of Directors In 2017 and became Chair in January 2019. He is a true inspiration.
As a child he had limited eyesight, only able to see light, color, and vague shapes. When he was 16 Jack underwent his eighth or ninth surgery in hopes of improving his sight and, as a result of complications during the operation, he lost his vision completely. In spite of that, he decided he would not allow himself be limited by any challenges, including his blindness. "The world’s somewhat lower expectations for me as a blind person pushed me to do more, bigger, and better. A fifth grade teacher of mine told me, in response to seeing me so stressed out and upset that I couldn’t do some of my school work, that I didn’t have to worry and that the government would take care of me. That statement is burned into my memory. It caused me to do what the world tells me I can’t do. If someone thinks I can’t do something, I just go and figure out how to do it. It’s made me the kind of person that never asks “Can I?” but rather “How can I?”, states Jack.
Thanks to that decision he has achieved a number of truly inspiring accomplishments, with so many more on the horizon. He has degrees in computer science/artificial Intelligence from UC Berkeley and Harvard and is a graduate of Fordham Law School. He began his career as a systems engineer at Xanboo Inc. He then spent two years as a patent and trademark attorney in the New York office of Kenyon & Kenyon followed by three years at Baker Botts. In 2010 he joined Google; first as an associate patent counsel and, later in 2014, as their product counsel in charge
Jack said "I have always been an inventor. I came up with the idea for remotely controlling appliances (shutting off the stove after you’ve left the house) when I was eight years old. Much later I worked for a startup as an engineer building home automation technology. I also loved talking to people and got involved with the lawyers working on the patent portfolio for the company. I became an inventor on several of the key patents, and the number of my patents has now grown to nearly 40 patents. By the way, I practiced patent law for a number of years but am no longer a patent attorney. Now I am a product counsel which is a much more generalized attorney. Essentially, I handle all of the legal issues that relate to one or more products at the company [Google]."
As if that weren’t impressive enough, Jack has also competed in an amazing five triathlons, including two Iron Man triathlons, which consist of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride, and a 26.2-mile run. He has even climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
Jack talks about his decision with Dan Berlin who Is also blind to build a team of tandem cyclists with blind Individuals as the stokers on the back and sighted pilots on the front to do the 3,050 mile RAAM cross country bike race through forests, over mountains and through towns. "We heard about James Holman who in the 1850’s completed a cross-Europe trek as a blind person and documented it. We thought we could do the same thing and focus on the professional success of people who were blind in addition to the epic physical adventure, and from there was born Race Across America, and our team, Team Sea To See. Our motto is Success In Plain Sight. We want to… [produce] a movie that portrays the incredible success of people who are blind, using the race as a lead-in to talk about professional success. We want to show the world that people who are blind are, in fact, capable of incredible success, and should be counted on to deliver this success. We want companies to realize that they are missing out on an incredible talent pool and that they need people who are blind in their organizations, to lead them." They completed the race In under the 9 day limit. The team Is now In the process of producing a full length feature film about their journey.