On Saturday, BIT will be hosting its 5th Annual Dining in the Dark Gala fundraiser. Pulling off one of these fundraising galas is no small feat. So, who is the wizard behind BIT’s event? Natalie Hess, BIT’s Chief Connections Officer, thrives on organizing these types of events. “I enjoy getting people connected and drawing attention to a cause,” says Natalie.
At her core, Natalie is a connector, a supporter, and a caregiver. Although beginning her career in business, Natalie later pursued her nursing degree, focusing on natural medicine. She put that pursuit on hold when she and Mike decided to go all in with BIT. “When I see a wrong, I need to make it right,” comments Natalie. When Mike worked for a large software company prior to beginning BIT, she noticed that she never saw any other blind employees. “I thought something is wrong with this picture.” It was after hearing Mike’s Art of Blinders presentation and learning that people with disabilities are paid less and generally treated as less than their non-disabled peers, that Natalie said let’s take the leap and go for it with BIT.
In addition to handling the business end of BIT and organizing events like the Gala, Natalie says she is the balance to Mike. “When Mike gets some of his big ideas, I’m the one that reels him in and says one step at a time, we’ll get there.” She wants people to know that she’s not just behind the scenes but enjoys being approached and making connections. Natalie’s hope for BIT’s future is for it to be self-sustaining. “I hope one day we’ll get to the point where corporations open their doors to people with disabilities, recognizing the skills and value they bring, without us having to make the case for it.” Once BIT gets to that point, Natalie hopes to go back to nursing, practicing natural medicine. Natalie is the mother of three and has four grandchildren. She volunteers her time outside of BIT, working on such causes as children, feeding the hungry, helping the homeless, and fighting for abused people. For fun, Natalie’s favorite pastime is dancing. She learned to dance at Blue Grass festivals with her dad and has taken swing lessons with Mike. She also likes to camp, ski, do art and try new things.