Families First Award
Recognizes Cliff Moers
By Shelley Strickfaden, Colorado H&V Board Co-Present
As our award nomination states, “in every field, there are those who forge ahead with a tireless spirit to "make things happen" for our deaf and hard of hearing kids.” Each year, we recognize the professionals and parents in the field of deaf/hh education who pioneer on behalf of all our children.
The award recipients exemplify the spirit of this award, which reflects their diligent pursuit of support to families who have children who are deaf and hard of hearing. This year’s recipient of the Families First award is Cliff Moers.
Cliff is a Colorado native and is the third generation of a deaf family. He is a 1986 graduate of Gallaudet University. Cliff has worked tirelessly in support of our d/hh kids. He always goes the extra mile, challenges the status quo, and immeasurably enriches the lives of our children. In 1994, while working as the Coordinator of deaf and hard of hearing services at the University of Colorado, Cliff established the Magnet School for the Deaf, the first charter school in Colorado to teach children in ASL as their first language. It is governed and taught largely by Deaf adults and is known today as Rocky Mountain Deaf School. The school supports a bilingual approach, sets high expectations through rigorous curriculum and fair assessments and values each deaf child is unique, important, and inviolate and moreover, that deafness is a positive state of being.
In service to Colorado, Cliff served four years as Colorado Association of the Deaf (CAD) President.
Currently, Cliff shares his leadership as the administrator for the Colorado Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. During his tenure, the Commission has grown immensely. Projects have included new legislation for hearing aid coverage for minors, a critical Mental Health and Substance Abuse task force called the “Daylight Project” that increases the capacity of mental health providers to meet the needs of children and adults who are deaf or hard of hearing seeking counseling services, many minigrant projects and resources developed that support the work of Colorado nonprofits serving adults and children, and bringing stakeholders together to discuss and take action on key issues. He has increased the funding and staff of the Commission tenfold.
While his many professional accomplishments are great, Cliff has affected my own life personally and profoundly. I gave birth to the first deaf person I ever met: my son Evan. I met Cliff soon thereafter and was honored that he was willing to share his knowledge and experiences with me and help me navigate what was very new ground. I learned about Deaf Culture, communication modes and advocacy. He patiently watched my sign clumsily and stick my foot in my mouth repeatedly, and he was endlessly supportive and kind. I am thrilled not only for my son to have him as a Deaf adult role model, I am grateful that he is also a role model to me as a parent and to parents in Colorado. Janet DesGeorges also shared that Cliff was the first Deaf adult she had ever met and was so grateful for his input and example.
In accepting the award, Cliff shared his vision for our responsibilities to care for our children and seniors. He delighted the audience, and particular the group of teens attending, through his positive and energetic call for excellence in education and his heart felt, confident testimonial that he would want to come back in his next life (should that happen) as a Deaf man. We are lucky to have Cliff Moers in Colorado.
Nominations for Families First Award
In every field, there are those who forge ahead with a tireless spirit to "make things happen" for our deaf and hard of hearing kids. Help us recognize the professionals and parents in the field of deaf/hh education who pioneer on behalf of all our children.
Send in your nomination letter to recognize those parents and professionals who go the extra mile, who challenge the status quo, and who immeasurably enrich the lives of our children. Nominations will be accepted annually until October 1 of each year. Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Previous recipients of the Families First award include Shana Bokelman, who is an itinerant teacher of the deaf in the northeast, Rob Frantum-Allen, an educator and administrator in Denver Public Schools who connects with families and inspires and creates opportunities for his staff to pursue continuing education; and researcher Allison Sedey at CU Boulder.
Past winners also include Rep. Mark Larson, Barbara Jean Wood, Stephanie Olson, Dinah Beams, Allison Biever, Donna Ewing, BJ Brubaker-Blocker, Denise Davis Pedrie, Ruth Mathers, Cathy Noble Hornsby, Brian W. Smith, Cheryl DeConde Johnson, and Christine Yoshinaga Itano.