Remembering former Perkins Director Kevin Lessard

Kevin Lessard, former Director of Perkins, had a long-lasting impact on the growth and success of Perkins as we know it today.

Kevin holds a brailler while a group of people around him take a look, including Shirley Temple.

Kevin Lessard, who served as Perkins Director from 1985 to 2002, passed away in August 2023. Kevin was only the eighth Director of Perkins since its founding, and he had a significant impact on its growth and success. He may be best known for securing the 25-year grant from the Hilton Foundation that built on our work in developing countries and laid the foundation for our modern-day Perkins International.

Kevin joined Perkins as a mobility teacher in 1968 and served as Housemaster in Tompkins Cottage from 1970 to 1974. In 1973, he became Mobility Supervisor and helped lead summer outreach programs focused on work experience and daily living skills. He became Assistant Director in 1979, leading the re-accreditation of the school and developing the Severe Impaired Program. In 1985, he was named Director by the Board of Trustees (a role we now call President). Over the next 17 years, Kevin led several strategic initiatives, including:

His most lasting contribution to Perkins was the Hilton Foundation grant, which supported the growth of Perkins international. Before Kevin’s retirement in 2002, Perkins International:

On the Watertown campus, Kevin was a trusted friend of parents, children, alumni, teachers, and colleagues around the world.  We thank Kevin for putting Perkins on the path to success and we remember him as one of the giants in a long line of successful Perkins leaders.

As a tribute to Kevin’s contributions to Perkins, his funeral procession drove through the Perkins campus. Kevin Lessard’s obituary has also been published by the funeral home, where friends and colleagues can share memories.

How can I pay tribute to Kevin Lessard?

Help extend Kevin’s indelible legacy by making a gift to the Kevin Lessard Endowment fund at Perkins.

Kevin Lessard kneels next to a student who drinks from a cup.
A busy street in the Santo Andres municipality of Sao Paolo, Brazil

Why 3 mothers in Brazil decided to get their Perkins International Academy certification

Logo for the Visual Brailler iOS app

Using the Visual Brailler app as a Digital Perkins Braillewriter

Examples of digitized materials on Flickr

Digital collections on the Perkins Archives Flickr site