Current DLIA Leaders/Partners

Deaf Leadership International Alliance

DLIA LEADERS/PARTNERS

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.

First Signs service has received an additional funding to reach 280 families per year by 2026.  –www.firstsigns.co.nz


Wayne Cloete

New Zealand


Here Wayne Cloete, I went Family Centre Early invention (FCEI) congress 2022 with my wife (Natasha Cloete).  Since then, I have been inspired by how Deaf leadership from DLIA encourages including Deaf Adults professionals from anywhere worldwide in the early invention program to provide a role model.  I am a father of my Deaf son too. 


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

Austria


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.


Patrick Gift Egessa

Africa


I am hard of hearing adult, an Humanitarian by profession, trained in UN CRPD/SDGs, Trained as a trainer of CRPD/SGDs by IDA in Bridge modules cycles 1,2,3, with management skills and communication skills to all kinds of people with disabilities like deaf, hard of hearing people, people with Physco-social disabilities, People with Albinism and many other groups of people with disabilities in Uganda.

I have good experience in working research and fellowship programs at International levels. Recently we have just completed a research project on needs assessment for the hard of hearing Students in Uganda, funded by the International Disability Alliance-IDA and supervised by the International Federation for the Hard of hearing- IFHOH.

Having been trained as trainer of trainees – Tot by IFHOH & IDA and being part of Bridge Alumni in Africa, I feel I am equipped with all necessary skill to carry out this program with minimum supervision based in Uganda.

I am the Director of the Association of persons with hearing Loss -APHEL, the C.E.O of Hope Junior School (An inclusive school for the children with hearing loss in Uganda).


Michele Friedner

United States


Michele Friedner is an associate professor in the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago, USA. As a deaf medical anthropologist, she conducts research on deafness and disability more broadly. She has written two monographs: Valuing Deaf Worlds in urban India (Rutgers UP 2015) and Sensory Futures: Deafness and Cochlear Implant Infrastructures in India (Minnesota UP 2022) in addition to numerous journal articles and commentaries. Her goal is for deaf and hard of hearing children and families to have all the modal, sensory, and relational opportunities available to them.


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.  


Patrick Graham

United States

Dr. Patrick Graham is the Department Chair of the Master of Science in Secondary Education for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, which is a teacher preparation program at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. He obtained his PhD from the University of Georgia in 2014 in Educational Theory and Practice, with his dissertation study about body language and cultural habitus of deaf teachers in three countries, France, Japan and the United States. He is currently serving as a Young Leader for the French-American Foundation, which brings together French and US citizens to discuss global issues such as poverty, economy, culture, and education. He has participated in several projects in France, Japan, Ghana, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and the US. His research interests is in language deprivation, curriculum management, international education, and literacy.


Anita Grover

England

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. 


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

India

Angshu Jajodia, PhD, was born deaf with a bilateral profound hearing loss. He works as an Assistant Professor at the National Institute of Technology Durgapur, India in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. He is also attached to Speech And Hearing Action Society (SAHAS), an organisation founded by his parents that primarily works with parents of children with hearing impairment, advocating early detection and early intervention in order to facilitate language development. Dr Jajodia 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.

Ege Karar

Germany

Ege Karar works research assistant at the RWTH University of Aachen, Germany, and leads the project test procedures for the assessment of occupationally relevant competencies of Deaf and hard of hearing people. He led the project Deaf Train improving the transcultural social skills of Deaf persons, He is Deaf sign language interpreter in DGS, TID and International Signs.

Liz Kay

New Zealand

Liz is a CODA, aswell as parent to 3 Deaf children. She has spent the last 20 years as a NZSL Interpreter but recently studied at the University of Canterbury a degree in Teaching and Learning. Liz is currently employed at Deaf Aotearoa as a Child and Youth Team Leader. She is passionate about bilingual pathways for Deaf tamariki so their language development can thrive. Liz supports the team of Child and Youth facilitators to provide a high quality service to create an environment for Deaf children to learn NZSL, grow and succeed.

Alice Leidensdorf

Belguim

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.


Jen McKee

Australia


Jen has been working in administration of early intervention service for deaf and hard of hearing children since 2014. She was part of the team that negotiated the merge of a small organisation (The Association for the Preschool Education of Deaf Children) with Deaf Connect, the largest whole-of-life service provider for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing Australians. She managed the subsequent organisational change for the newly-named Hear for Kids team. Prior to her role at Deaf Connect Jen worked for many years as a technical writer for various IT security companies. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and is a qualified English as a Second Language Teacher. In her role as General Manager, Therapy Services, she leads a team of over 35 dedicated speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, teachers of the Deaf, allied health assistants, a psychologist, a social worker, and family support specialists. Her team works onsite and in close collaboration with the specialist educational teams at the Yeerongpilly and Taigum Early Childhood Development Programs in Brisbane, Australia.


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

Iran

Guita Movalali is synonymous with making meaningful impacts whether it be in her role as a tenured Faculty Member in one of the leading institutions in the Middle East, or in her role as an advocate for Deaf children and their parents to advance their inclusion in mainstream society on a greater scale. 


Her contributions span over 30+ years globally where she created Family Centered Early Intervention (FCEI) programs that addressed integration into the mainstream society for Deaf families, was the progenitor for Persian Cued Speech, and cultivating Deaf Leadership. Her efforts culminated in her being a recipient of the 2016 Educator Award for Excellence and Innovative Leadership from the National Cued Speech Association. Guita continually strives to bridge the cultural gap and has edited and translated 17 children’s narratives and 33 books about Deaf children and adults from English to Persian language as part of her numerous accolades.


She has advocated and implemented change on a macro scale and initiated FCEI & DLIA (Deaf Leadership International Alliance) movements within Iran in various roles relating to early intervention for the Deaf community. 


In 2021, Guita moved to Canada. She came on board as Early Years Director in Voice for deaf & hard of hearing children organization, Toronto, Canada. In 2022, she initiated the first Parent-Child Mother Goose (PCMG) program for parents with DHH children, a webinar as well as a Parents Monthly Meet up in Ontario.



Sonja Myhre Holten

Norway

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. 


Bettie Petersen 

United States

Bettie is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. She is working with Dr. Lillo-Martin in the Sign Linguistics and Language Acquisition Lab and on the Family ASL Project. She got her M.Ed. from Utah State University in Deaf Education Early Intervention while raising her two children. She then worked for the New Mexico School for the Deaf in Santa Fe where she served families with d/hh children from birth to six years old for 15 years. She feels very passionately about the quality of early intervention provided to families and decided she needed a Ph.D. in order to impact early intervention training and research. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Linguistics from the University of New Mexico. Her current research focuses on how hearing parents' understanding of deafness is socially constructed through their early intervention experience. She has seen first-hand the impact that meeting Deaf adults has on parents' understanding of what is possible for their d/hh children. She hopes to act as an ally by illuminating how society's view of deafness and early intervention practices perpetuate ableism/audism and that we each have a part to play in breaking down these stereotypes/stigmas.


Genevieve Roberts

Australia

Genevieve is Co-Ordinator Family Services at Deaf Connect and is based in Sydney Australia. She is a member of the Early Intervention Team for Deaf Connect, a team which delivers services to families throughout Queensland and NSW. Genevieve oversees Targeted Early Intervention funding which involves the delivery of a Parent to Parent Peer Support Program, and the development of a Deaf Mentor Program.

Recently, along with her colleague Naomi Hayman, Genevieve did a study tour to Deaf Aotearoa to observe and investigate their First Signs Program. Naomi and Genevieve were embraced

by the hospitality of Natasha Cloete and Bridget Ferguson who generously shared their knowledge and experience.

In her role Genevieve also advises parents with deaf and hard of hearing children, ensuring that they have accurate and unbiased information and access to all available options so that children can flourish. She is passionate about the role of family centred early intervention in creating a crucible for the Deaf Leaders of tomorrow. The Deaf Mentor program will make a vital contribution to this vision.

Genevieve’s background is in community development, teaching and theatre. As a hearing ally, her entry into the Deaf and Hard of Hearing world was through a cultural door, when she undertook her postgraduate research of Theatre of The Deaf 25 years ago. Her thesis was “Acts of De(a)fiance: Body, Performance, Text in the Theatre of the Deaf” and explored Theatre of the Deaf as an act of resistance to hearing dominance, and as an assertion of Deaf Gain.

As part of her research Genevieve travelled in the USA and did secondments at National Theatre of the Deaf (NTD) in Chester, CT and National Technical Institute of the Deaf (NTID) in Rochester, NY, and presented at Deaf Way II at Gallaudet University.

More recently she presented at the International Deaf History Conference in Sydney (2018), exploring Theatre of the Deaf as a crucible for Deaf Community Leaders. Furthermore, in recent years in her role at The Deaf Society (now Deaf Connect), Genevieve has conducted drama workshops for Deaf and Hard of Hearing children and young people.


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

Cheryl Spykerman

New Zealand

Cheryl is a Children & Youth Team Leader at Deaf Aotearoa.

Cheryl is passionate about her work, supporting families with Deaf and Hard of Hearing children to develop New Zealand Sign Language and to connect with the Deaf community.

Cheryl wants to inspire strong and positive aspirations for Deaf youth in Aotearoa.


Sabine Windisch

Austria

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.


www.mdcresearch.net 


Xuan Zheng

China

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.