Speaker Roster

Janet DesGeorges,
H&V Executive Director

Janet DesGeorges lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband Joe and is mom to three daughters, including Sara, who is hard of hearing. She is a co-founder and part of the national/international staff at Hands & Voices, serving as the Executive Director. Janet has presented to groups nationwide and internationally about the experiences of families as they journey through life with a child with deafness or hearing loss. Ms. DesGeorges is the author on the chapter for Family Support in the NCHAM e-Book, the co-author of a chapter on Educational Law for Deaf/hh students, and many other publications. She serves on the national faculty for the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality (NICHQ) EHDI Learning Collaborative, as well as the Marion Downs Center Advisory, co-chairs the CDC Parent-to-Parent Committee, and chairs the NCHAM Parent Advisory Committee.

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Janet DesGeorges

Cheryl DeConde Johnson, Ed.D.,
Hands & Voices Board of Directors

Cheryl is currently a self-employed consultant in the areas of deaf education and audiology. As a former supervisor with the Colorado Department of Education, she was responsible for developing policy and providing technical assistance to deaf and hard of hearing students, their teachers, and other supportive staff statewide. Drawing upon her own experiences raising a daughter with hearing loss, Cheryl enjoys assisting families as they face similar issues and challenges. Dr Johnson has frequently presented nationally and internationally on topics related to Educational Audiology.

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Cheryl Johnson

Leeanne Seaver, M.A.
H&V Board Member /Special Projects

Leeanne is mom to three kids, including Dane, her eldest son who is profoundly deaf.  She sits on the Advisory Board for the National Center on Low Incidence Disabilities, the American College of Educators/DHH Joint-Together Executive Advisory, the Quality of Life-DHH Research Advisory Board, and for AFB/Bridge Multimedia. Leeanne's particular interests lie in advocacy and special education law.

More info about Leeanne...



Katherine M. Baldwin, MSW

Katherine is a parent of two young children with hearing loss, Henry (age 7) and Richard (age 1).  Her husband, Robert, is also hard-of-hearing. She has served on several boards and committees related to deafness/hearing loss. Katherines' interests include socialization issues as they pertain to children who are deaf and hard-of-hearing.

More info about Katherine...


Katherine Baldwin

Susan Elliott, MA NBCT

An engaging and uniquely qualified presenter, Susan Elliott shares her unique perspective as a Deaf individual and award-winning educator on a range of topics, notably our Hands & Voices Deaf Cultural Sensitivity Training workshop.

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Susan Elliott

Keith Garrett, M.A.

Keith is a Parent as well as a Founding Board Member/Treasurer for Arizona Hands & Voices


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Teresa Kazemir

Teresa is from Vancouver, British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada.  Teresa and her husband Steve have three children.  Their oldest son is hard of hearing, with bilateral microtia and atresia.  Teresa is the Vice President of BC Hands & Voices, and one of the founding members.  She is also the Parent Coordinator for the Guide By Your Side program in B.C., and part of the BC Early Hearing Program (EHDI).  Teresa and her husband have hosted a microtia/atresia yahoo group for many years, which has over 2000 members.  She also helped to start up a Hands & Voices yahoo group for families of children with unilateral hearing loss.  Teresa sits on the National/International board of directors for Hands & Voices, and works as a Speech-Language Pathologist in her spare time.


Sara Kennedy

Sara is a mom of four children, including a middle school-aged daughter who is profoundly deaf. An occupational therapist by training, Sara has worked with Hands & Voices since 2000 and currently serves as the director for the Colorado chapter and coordinator of the Guide By Your Side program. Presentations include the GBYS training, understanding the laws and advocacy in the birth to three and Part B system, and a memorable presentation on teaching our deaf/hh children about sex that Sara and Susan Elliott created.

More Info about Sara...


Karen Putz, M.A.

Karen Putz is a deaf mom of three deaf and hard of hearing children. She holds a B.S. in Counseling and an M.A. in Rehabilitation Counseling from Northern Illinois University. Karen mentors families in her state's early intervention program and she brought the initial push for the GYBS program to Illinois. She is a writer for the Chicago Tribune TribLocal and Chicago Now blog. Karen sits on the board for Hands & Voices and is the founder and board member of Illinois Hands & Voices. In her spare time, Karen can be found competing at barefoot water skiing tournaments and has been featured on espnW, Growing Bolder, AOL That's Fit, The Waterskier, Waterski, and Suburban Woman.  She is the recipient of the 2011 Hot Momma's Project Award and is one of twenty deaf women honored as The Pearls.  Karen has been published in several books, including "On the Fence, The Hidden World of the Hard of Hearing" and an upcoming Chicken Soup of the Soul book.

Karen has spoken at numerous conferences and shares her unique insight on life, both as a parent of teenagers and as a deaf individual.  Her topics include Social Bluffing, self-esteem, advocacy, and "Life on Spin Cycle."


Elizabeth is currently the Wisconsin Sound Beginnings (WSB) Program Director. WSB is the name given to the statewide Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program in the Division of Public Health.

More Info about Elizabeth...



Lisa Kovacs

Lisa lives in Greenwood Indiana with her husband Brian and four children, 3 daughters and a son. Her son has a severe hearing loss and Auditory Neuropathy.

Lisa is the Director of Guide By Your Side (GBYS) for Hands & Voices HQ and the GBYS Program Coordinator for Indiana Hands & Voices. Lisa is one of the founding board members of Indiana Hands &Voices. She serves on several councils and committees that include, Indiana Department of Education Special Education Advisory Council, AAP EHDI Task Force, and the National Deaf Education Summit Committee.

 Lisa has extensive training and experience in special education advocacy. She is passionate about training other parents to recognize their strengths and abilities so that they feel confident to make educated decisions and advocate for their children and families. Lisa wants to see that all children who are deaf or hard of hearing have the opportunity to reach their full potential.


Candace Lindow-Davies

Candace is the mother of a profoundly deaf son, and for the past 6 years, developed and coordinated services for the Family Support Connection/MN Hands & Voices at Lifetrack Resources in Minnesota. For 5 years, Candace has also served as a parent consultant for the MN Dept. of Health's Newborn Hearing Screening Program. She also serves on the MN Dept. of Health's Newborn Screening Advisory Committee, representing parents of children who are deaf and hard of hearing.

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Candace Lindow-Davies

Terri Patterson

Terri is both a parent of a child with a hearing loss as well as having been a professional Early Intervention Parent Educator.  An author, parent leader and speaker, Terri is also Director of Georgia Hands & Voices.

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Dane Seaver

Dane Seaver is a bilingual (Oral English/ASL) Deaf college student who brings his insight as a mainstreamed public school student and deaf child in a hearing family to groups who seek a better understanding of communication access and self advocacy for the deaf and hard of hearing.

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Martha Fidrych

Martha has been a Regional Parent Coordinator with Colorado Families for Hands and Voices since 2002. She has recently contributed to the Parent Funding Tool Kit as well as the What Parents Need to Know Series. She is the parent of two children with hearing loss both of whom were late identified and experience a progressive, fluctuating loss and have successfully transitioned to a college environment. Martha has a proven perspective on parenting.

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Helen Cotton Leiser

Helen Cotton Leiser and her husband, Walker are parents to daughters Ashlin and Mikaylin both with bilateral profound hearing loss.

Having worked in fund development for non profits for 10 years (even starting one herself!) Helen has finally found her niche! Providing parents with the right resources and information is critical to Helen. As the Executive Director for Hands & Voices of Oregon and the Guide By Your Side Coordinator for Oregon’s EHDI program since 2009, Helen has built relationships statewide both professionally and with other parents.

More info about Helen...

Other speakers we recommend...  
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