2019-2022 DLIA Leaders/Partners

Deaf Leadership International Alliance


Beth Benedict

United States 

Dr. Beth Benedict, newly retired from Gallaudet, was an Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach and also was a professor at the Department of Communication Studies and was the coordinator of Gallaudet's Deaf and Hard of Hearing Infants, Toddlers, and Families:  Collaboration and Leadership Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate Program.   She has published numerous articles and is a widely sought-after lecturer on diverse topics including early intervention, early language acquisition, and family involvement.  Dr. Benedict was the chair of the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing and a former president of the Council on Education of the Deaf.  She received the prestigious Anotonia Brancia Maxon Award for EHDI Excellence at the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention conference in Chicago, Illinois along with numerous other awards.  

Michele Berke

United States

Michele Berke was raised bilingually in a Deaf family and has worked for over 30 years in programs within the Deaf community. Her experience includes management of a rest home for deaf and deaf-blind senior citizens, directing Gallaudet University's western regional office, coordinating a US Department of Education funded project to develop an ASL Assessment tool, and teaching college-level Linguistics of ASL courses. Berke currently works at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont as Principal in the Early Childhood Education Department. Her doctoral studies in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences from the University of Colorado in Boulder focused on exploring the shared reading practices of Deaf and hearing mothers and their pre-school children. 

Natasha Cloete

New Zealand

Natasha is proudly Deaf and dedicated to improving the opportunities for the next generation of Deaf and Hard of Hearing children and their families.

Natasha was one of the first Facilitators in the First Signs service when it was established in 2014. Since 2016 Natasha has held the position of First Signs Team Leader.

In just five years the First Signs service grew to a nationwide service currently working with 180 families to support them to incorporate NZSL and a Deaf way of life into their family home and daily interactions.

Jodee Crace

United States

Jodee Crace carries with her a motto in her daily life:  Adapt. Resilience. Acceptance. Celebrate!  This personal motto has carried Jodee throughout her professional career in providing resources for families learning, navigating, and embracing the world of raising their deaf babies and young children.

 Currently, Jodee coordinates ASL Connect: Families at Gallaudet University as well as providing deaf mentoring services in Indiana. In addition, she serves as adjunct instructor for Gallaudet's Deaf and Hard of Hearing Infants, Toddlers, and Families: Collaboration and Leadership Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate Program.

 Jodee holds a B.A. in American Studies and an M.A. in School Counseling with Deaf Students, both from Gallaudet University. Jodee then began her professional career as a therapist for a mental-health agency in Indianapolis, where she worked with deaf children and their families.

 From 1992 to 2013 Jodee performed several counseling and early intervention roles at the Indiana School for the Deaf, her high school alma mater.  Throughout her career, she has served in a number of roles dedicated to enhancing Early Intervention services for families with Deaf children. She is one of three national trainers for the SKI-HI Deaf Mentor program.  Also, Jodee participated on the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing, representing the Council on Education of the Deaf.  She was instrumental in ensuring that the JCIH Best Practice document reflected a holistic approach for the families and that the ASL is included as a visual language in its publication. 

 For self-reflecting moments, Jodee enjoys walking, reading and being with her family.

Frank Dauer


Frank started learning sign language a few years ago. What was supposed to be just an excursion shortly turned into a longer journey as he is now married to a CODA and has a son who is Deaf.

For Frank it is clear that only Deaf people know what Deaf children need, because they know and understand the situation best.

Frank has a parent group in Austria and advocates for parent-to-parent support.

During the day he works as a computer scientist in a software company.

Lara Draper

New Zealand

Lara Draper is First Signs Team Leader at Deaf Aotearoa in New Zealand. She is from the UK and has made New Zealand her home. First Signs is a family centred early intervention service that brings NZSL into the home and family/whanau environments, making learning NZSL fun, and learning about being Deaf/Hard of Hearing, and connecting with other families. Her background as BBC See Hear! Presenter, social worker, primary teacher, project leader, and tutor, bring a wealth of information and knowledge to her current role. She’s an avid reader of historical novels, her family is outdoorsy people with a love for skiing/snowboarding and water sports, and she also loves watching her boys’ rugby games.

Bridget Ferguson 

New Zealand

Bridget is the General Manager of Services at Deaf Aotearoa (Not-for profit service provider and Disabled Persons organisation in New Zealand). Bridget has been involved in the Deaf sector for more than 25 years, in a variety of roles: Advisor on Deaf Children for the Ministry of Education, Teacher of the Deaf in New Zealand and Australia, and a Sign Language Interpreter. Bridget established the Deaf Aotearoa First Signs service in 2014 and represents Deaf Aotearoa on the Ministry of Education’s NZSL Sector Advisory group. She brings to her work not only the professional knowledge and experience but also personal knowledge and experience as she is a parent of three bimodal bilingual children two of whom are Deaf.

Elaine Gale

United States

Elaine Gale is an assistant professor and coordinator of the deaf and hard of hearing teacher preparation program at Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY).  She is currently the chair of the Deaf Leadership International Alliance (DLIA), an organization established to advocate deaf adults in diverse roles throughout early intervention programs from decision-making to service provision.  Her research experiences include joint attention, theory of mind, and sign language development.  At present, she is the Lead Investigator for the Hunter College consortium on a research project titled Family ASL: Bimodal Bilingual Acquisition by Deaf Children of Hearing Parents supported by the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Danelle Gournaris

United States

Danelle has been at Lifetrack since 2012 as Deaf Family Mentor Program Manager.  The Deaf Mentor Family Program at Lifetrack, based in St. Paul, Minnesota, is a statewide program that provides Deaf Mentor who are a language role model to hearing families with deaf and hard of hearing children. Danelle currently supervises 30 Deaf Mentors and the program served approximately 325 families since 2012.   Prior to Lifetrack, she was a family counselor at a school district for one year and a deaf mentor for seven years. In 2000, Danelle earned her Masters of Arts in School Counseling and her Masters of Science in Administration from Gallaudet University. She is also a National Certified Deaf Mentor Trainer with the SKI-HI Institute at Utah State University.  

Anita Grover


Anita became Chief Executive of the charity Auditory Verbal UK (www.avuk.org) in 2013 following a 20 year career working in the UK civil service. As a senior civil servant, she led communications on the government’s disability, employers, pensions and poverty agendas, working with a succession of cabinet ministers, business leaders and third sector organisations.

Anita is profoundly deaf, having lost her hearing progressively from childhood. She had cochlear implant surgery in 2006 and brings to her role at AVUK and the DLIA personal insight into hearing loss and a passion for improving outcomes and opportunities for DHH children and adults.

In 2014 Anita became the first CEO of a UK-based charity to be awarded the Macquarie David Clarke Social Innovation Fellowship and was nominated for the 2015 Rising CEO of the Year at the Third Sector Awards. In Dec 2016 Anita was awarded a Fellowship by the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations. Anita is a Fellow of the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing; a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a former governor of a primary school in Buckinghamshire, England. 

Michael Harrison


Michael currently works for the NSW Department of Education in the North Coast of New South Wales, Australia. He has held positions including; Complex Support Advisor - Sensory Programs, Assistant Principal- Hearing, Learning and Wellbeing Advisor and Disability Programs Consultant. Michael is a bilateral cochlear-implantee after receiving his second implant in December 2009.

Michael has presented at numerous conferences and workshops around Australia and abroad and is the author of iHear: Accessibility features of iOS and teaching hearing impaired students, and co-author of Accessibility at Home  - iBooks that are available via Apple’s iBookStore.

Karen Hopkins

United States

Karen Hopkins is the Executive Director at The Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing/Governor Baxter School for the Deaf. Karen oversees early interven, the Bilingual Bimodal Preschool Program at MECDHH and school for the deaf site based programming. She serves on  the Percival Baxter Foundation, Hands & Voices HQ Board, the Maine Newborn Hearing Screening Advisory Board and Maine's Commission for Deaf /Hard of Hearing and Late Deafened.  Karen has served on many committees and tasks forces through Maine and the US.  Karen holds educational degrees and certifications in the following:  Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education,  Special Education, Director of Special Education, Building Administrator, and Superintendent.  Karen has received degrees and certificates of advanced studies from Gallaudet University, University of Maine and University of New England.  Karen grew up in Northern Maine and is a Deaf adult who has three children one of whom is hard of hearing. 

Angshu Jajodia


Angshu Jajodia, PhD, was born deaf with a bilateral profound hearing loss. He is currently attached to Speech And Hearing Action Society (SAHAS), an organisation that primarily works with parents of children with hearing impairment, advocating early detection and early intervention in order to facilitate language development. Dr. Jajodia is also a visiting lecturer at Visva-Bharati University where he teaches the disability studies course and other papers in the social work course. He speaks three languages fluently and is passionate about spreading awareness regarding early intervention for appropriate language and cognitive development of children with hearing impairment. Dr. Jajodia's PhD thesis focused on the experiences and challenges of orally rehabilitated hearing impaired children in the Indian context.

Diane Lillo-Martin

United States

Diane Lillo-Martin is a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor in Linguistics at the University of Connecticut. She is also a Senior Research Scientist at Haskins Laboratories, and an Affiliate of the CT Institute of the Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Her research focuses on sign linguistics and language acquisition. Most recently she is studying families learning to sign with their DHH child, and how that affects their child’s development, in the Family ASL project.

Lucas Magongwa

South Africa

Lucas Magongwa is a lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg South Africa and the coordinator of Deaf education within the Centre for Deaf Studies, Wits School of Education. He has more than 20 years’ experience in the field of deaf education, teaching sign language, deaf pedagogy and deaf culture across various schooling, ranging from primary through secondary to university level. Prior to working at the university, he managed North West Secondary School for the Deaf from 2000 to 2001. His research interests are South African Sign Language (SASL) curriculum, early intervention, language policy and social justice. He is the former National chairperson of the Deaf Federation of South Africa and served on the World Federation of the Deaf Education committee.  Lucas recently is completed his PhD in Deaf Studies, in which he investigated the experiences of teachers during the introduction of SASL Curriculum in schools for the Deaf.

Amber Joy Martin

United States

Dr. Amber J. Martin is a deaf developmental psychologist whose research examines the relations between language and cognition across development. She studies how early language learning experiences of deaf and hearing children shape their developing cognition. She is particularly interested in the consequences of early language deprivation during critical language learning years.

 At the Department of Psychology at Hunter College of the City University of New York, Dr. Martin directs the Cognition Language and Sign Laboratory (CLAS Lab) and mentors emerging researchers in the field. She teaches undergraduate psychology courses in child development, experimental methods, cognition, and language.

Julie Mitchiner

United States

Julie Mitchiner, Ph.D, a professor in the Education Department at GallaudetUniversity focuses primarily on Early Childhood Education and Deaf Education. Prior to becoming a faculty, Dr.  Mitchiner taught at Kendall Demonstration Elementary School at the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center in the bilingual ASL/English Early Childhood Program. She earned her BA in Early Childhood Education, a MA in Deaf Education with a specialization in Family Centered Early Education from Gallaudet University and a Ph.D, in Education with a specialization in Early Childhood Education from George Mason University Her research interests include bilingual education in ASL and English and using the Reggio Emilia approach in teaching deaf and hard of hearing children. 

Mary Pat Moeller

United States

Mary Pat Moeller, Ph.D., is a Scientist Emerita at Boys Town National Research Hospital (BTNRH).  She retired from BTNRH in August of 2018, after 40 years of service.  While at BTNRH, she conducted longitudinal studies of various aspects of development in children who are deaf or hard of hearing.  Most recently, she co-directed with J. Bruce Tomblin a ten-year, multi-site study of the outcomes of children who are hard of hearing.  Dr. Moeller has been active in early intervention advocacy, including previous service on the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing and leading an international consensus group in the development of best practices guidelines. 

Guita Movallali


Guita Movallali , PhD, Audiologist , Psychologist is an Associate Professor in USWR University, board member of Iranian Audiology Association in Tehran, Iran. She is CEO of Faranak Clinic, a pioneer center for deaf children and their families. She has authored many articles and resources, had many national and international presentations, translated, and authored many books.  

Dr. Movallali developed Persian Cued Speech in 2009, started Parvaneha Association for parents of D/HH children in 2011 , some other programs like Parent-Child Mother Goose (PCMG) program (2012) and the first book reading programs in Iran for deaf children and their parents in her country.

Participating in FCEI conferences in 2012 in Austria, she held the first FCEI-Iran in 2016 , several national programs and translated FCEI best practice to Persian language(2019).

In 2016,NCSA Awards Committee selected Guita to be the recipient of a Cueing Educator Award. Dr.Movallali has recently started DLIA-Iran (2020).

Sonja Myhre Holten


Robert Nutt

United States

Dr. Robert Nutt graduated from Dartmouth College with a dual major in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology and Comparative Religious Studies. He received his doctorate of medicine degree from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. He then moved to Rochester, New York, where he worked in the International Center for Deaf Health Research and taught deaf and hard of hearing students at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He completed his pediatric residency training at the University of Rochester Medical Center (Golisano Children’s Hospital) in New York, followed by clinical fellowship training in both Academic General Pediatrics and Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. Dr. Nutt was a Leadership and Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) fellow (2014-2015) and received his Master’s in Public Health degree from the University of Rochester (2016).

Dr. Nutt has served on numerous task forces and advisory committees, including the American Academy of Pediatrics Leadership Team on Early Hearing Detection and Intervention and the North Carolina Council on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. He has been invited to present at regional, national, and international conferences on the importance of early identification of hearing loss, the importance of bilingualism (English and ASL) on the development of deaf and hard of hearing children, and the complexity of deafness and developmental disabilities, especially that of deafness and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Dr. Nutt believes strongly in the inclusion of parents and siblings in the care of a child with special needs. He currently practices at the Clinic for Special Children in Wilmington, North Carolina where he brings his dedication to the whole child and this wealth of clinical, educational, and research experience to an exceptional and thriving Tier 3 Advanced Medical Home for children with complex developmental and behavioral conditions and their families.

Stephanie Olson

United States

Stephanie Olson, B.A., is the Family Consultant for the Bill Daniels Center for Children’s Hearing at Children’s Hospital, Colorado and serves as a liaison between families and the audiology health care system. 

She has worked with families and children from birth to three through the Colorado Home Intervention Program, currently serves on the Colorado Hands & Voices board and is on staff for Hands and Voices Headquarters.

In 2008, Stephanie participated in a medical mission trip working with children in residential deaf schools in Northern China. During 2009, she was part of a team that traveled to London, South Africa, Brazil and New Zealand presenting on best practices in Auditory Neuropathy. Stephanie has participated in FCEI Austria- Family Centered Early Intervention in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018.  In October 2015 and April 2016, she participated in U.S. and Russian cultural exchange in St. Petersburg, Russia to increase the understanding and impact of deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the parenting journey and professionals who work with those families. Stephanie was late identified with a hearing loss at the age of three and brings this unique perspective to families and providers. 

Paula Pittman

United States

Paula Pittman is the director of the SKI-HI and Deaf Mentor Outreach and Training Programs at the SKI-HI Institute at Utah State University, and has served as a National Trainer for the SKI-HI Institute since 1992. She was a co-creator of the Deaf Mentor Program and was involved in the development of the SKI-HI and Deaf Mentor Curriculum Manuals. She has been involved in the development of many program materials to support early intervention providers and parents who work with or are raising children with sensory disabilities. As an early intervention practitioner, she has had the honor to serve families who have children who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf plus, deaf-blind and blind or visually impaired since 1982.

Katherine Rogers

United Kingdom

Dr Katherine Rogers is a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Post-Doctoral Fellow and has been involved in the Social Research with Deaf people (SORD) group at the University of Manchester since 2006. She completed a Doctoral Research Fellowship in 2013, funded by the NIHR. Her research interests primarily involve issues pertaining to Deaf communities and their families, especially those which promote more positive outcomes. Examples of research projects that she has been involved with include Deaf role models, the mental well-being of d/Deaf people, evaluating the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of BSL IAPT, and the validation of standardised psychometric instruments with d/Deaf populations. Additionally she is a co-investigator in The READY Study. Her research page can be found at: https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/katherine.rogers.html

Trudy Smith


Trudy Smith is the Manager of Continuing Professional Education at the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) Renwick Centre.


She has been a Teacher of the Deaf for over 20 years and has worked in education settings in Queensland and New South Wales as a classroom teacher, itinerant support teacher and as the Statewide Education Advisor.


She worked as an AV Therapist at the Hear and Say Centre in Brisbane and as a Rehabilitation Manager for MED-EL, providing coaching and guiding for therapists, teachers and parents supporting students with hearing loss in over 20 countries around the world.


Trudy is the immediate past state and national president of the National Association of Australian Teachers of the Deaf (NAATD).


Research Interests

Sabine Windisch


Sabine is a social carer  and work with toddlers, children and teenagers who are deaf and hard of hearing.  She also guides their parents and work in a team with speech therapists, occupational therapists and psychologists, where we have a great team spirit and good exchanges. 

Sabine's field of work is understanding and promoting (sign) language, communication between parents and their toddlers/children/adolescents, sign language classes for children and for parents, counselling of hearing and deaf parents, and strengthening identity,

Sabine has a deaf son who has a CI. He lives in two worlds and has also grown up with two languages.

Christine Yoshinaga-Itano

United States

Dr. Christine Yoshinaga-Itano is a Professor Emeritus of the Department of Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences and a Research Professor, in the Institute of Cognitive Science, Center for Neurosciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, adjunct faculty in the Department of Otolaryngology and Audiology at the University of Colorado, Denver and Board member emerita of Hands & Voices..  She is a visiting professor at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, Centre for Deaf Studies and an international doctoral faculty member at the

University of Verona, Italy, Psychology.  She developed the Marion Downs Center in 1996 and received funding from the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control, Maternal & Child Health, the Office of Special Education, and the Office of Education since the early 1980s. Dr. Yoshinaga-Itano has assisted state departments of public health and education, schools for the deaf, and early intervention programs throughout the United States and its territories. In addition, she has served as a consultant for many countries who have developed early hearing detection and intervention programs. A major focus of Dr. Yoshinaga-Itano’s work in universal newborn hearing screening/early hearing detection and intervention since 1996 has been the infusion of D/deaf/hard of hearing leadership infusion and parent leadership in EHDI system development evident in the JCIH (Joint Committee on Infant Hearing) 2007, 2013 Early intervention Supplement and 2019.  She was the recipient of the 2020 ASHA Honors of the Association, 2017 Woman of the Year Lifetime Award, Boulder Business and Professional Women, 2016 AG Bell Association Volta Award, 2016 Fred Berg Educational Audiology Association Career Award, 2015 Libby Harricks Oration (Sydney, Australia):  Towards a new model for deaf infusion of leadership in early hearing detection and intervention services,

2015 Colorado Academy of Audiology Lifetime Career Award, the 2014 Antonio Brancia Maxon Award for EHDI Excellence, 2013 Academy of Audiology(AAA) Jerger Career Award for Research in Audiology, the 2010 Robert Ruben Award for Research from the Society for Ear Nose and Throat Advances for Children, the 2010 Council for Exceptional Children, Division of Communicative Disabilities and Deafness Award, and the 2001AAA Research Achievement Award.


Alys Young


Alys Young, PhD, FAcSS, CQSW, is Professor of Social Work at the University of Manchester, UK where she also leads the SORD (Social Research with Deaf People) group.  This is a sign-bilingual applied social research group of Deaf and hearing scholars working to improve health and social care provision for d/Deaf people of all ages and promote the leadership of Deaf people within academia.  She worked on the evaluation of the implementation of Universal Newborn Hearing Screening in the UK and has published many articles concerning families and deaf children. She currently leads the UK longitudinal study of deaf young people aged 16 to 23 years. She is a fluent BSL user and has worked alongside D/deaf people for over 30 years both as a practitioner and as a researcher. In 2015 she was conferred a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS) for her outstanding thought leadership in the field and is a NIHR (National Institute of Health Research) Senior Fellow where she is currently leading a study of interpreter-mediated mental health act assessment.  She is Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Centre for Deaf Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

Xuan Zheng


Xuan Zheng is a professor in the Department of Special Education at Beijing Normal University. She is also a visiting professor and director of the Research Center for Chinese Sign Language and deaf education at Chongqing Normal University. Dr. Zheng is the first Deaf person to receive a PhD in Chinese sign language linguistics from Fudan University in China. She is fluent in Chinese Sign Language, spoken and written Chinese and English, and learning American Sign Language. Dr. Zheng was awarded the George H.W. Bush Fellow Award 2017-2018 and is conducting research on a comparative analysis of deaf education between the U.S. and China. She has been conducting qualitative research in the U.S. at six residential schools for the Deaf around the nation which includes analyzing services and outcomes for students who are deaf in a comparative analysis between China and the United States. As a Deaf scholar, she plays a distinctive and important role in not only academics and research, but in forging the path for developing Deaf education and employment serving as a leading expert on promoting the value of Deaf identify founded upon Chinese sign language as a cultural-social linguistic minority.