Russell Redenbaugh has been blind since age 17, but he can visualize charts and graphs needed to forecast the economy, thanks to his "photographic" memory.
Last month, the 52-year-old partner and economic strategist at Cooke & Bieler Inc., Philadelphia, was honored with the 1997 Louis Braille Award from the Associated Services for the Blind, Philadelphia. Mr. Redenbaugh was selected "because he embodies the spirit and goals of the organization, demonstrating true independence and a desire to succeed," said Patricia Johnson, CEO of Associated Services.
Mr. Redenbaugh has two readers, who help him input data so he can analyze it and create spreadsheets for his projections.
He is a great inspiration to his colleagues at Cooke & Bieler, said Samuel Ballam III, a principal at the firm, which has $6 billion under management.
"Russell comes to work with his Seeing Eye dog every day and remembers everything he hears. He . . . doesn't let his disability slow him down. In fact, when he was a portfolio manager, he had the highest client load in the firm at one point."
Mr. Redenbaugh chose a career in money management "because I figured that's where the money was," he quipped.
After being the first blind student to earn an MBA at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, he was rejected by 49 firms. A classmate recommended him to Cooke & Bieler. He joined the firm 30 years ago.