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 DeConde Johnson is a former consultant with the Colorado Department of Education where she was responsible for deaf education and audiology services from 1998-2006. Prior to that time she was an educational audiologist and program coordinator for the public school deaf and hard of hearing program in Greeley, Colorado and a regional coordinator for the Colorado Home Intervention Program. She has adjunct faculty appointments at the University of Colorado, Boulder, University of Northern Colorado, University of Arizona, and Salus University. She provides consultation and facilitation to organizations, states, and countries regarding initiatives in deaf education and systems improvement through her consulting practice, The ADEvantage- Audiology-Deaf Education vantage. Dr. Johnson is co-founder and former President of the Board of Directors for Hands & Voices. She has a grown daughter who describes herself as sometimes deaf and sometimes hard of hearing.

Dr. Johnson’s special interests include promoting outcomes comparable to hearing peers for all children who are deaf and hard of hearing, communication access, and family involvement. Drawing upon her own experiences raising a daughter with limited hearing, she enjoys assisting families as they face similar issues and challenges. She is a co-author of the Educational Audiology Handbook and Hands and Voices’ Educational Advocacy Guidebook as well as numerous articles and book chapters. She is a frequent presenter nationally and internationally on topics related to audiology and management issues in the school environment associated with children and youth who are deaf and hard of hearing as well as various topics in deaf education. Dr. Johnson has received numerous awards and recognitions for her work including the 2006 Trailblazer Award by the Alumni Association of the University of Northern Colorado and Phonak’s establishment of the Cheryl DeConde Johnson Award for Excellence in Educational Audiology.

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Cheryl Johnson

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

Leeanne Seaver is co-founder and former Executive Director of Hands & Voices (1997 to 2011).  Her oldest son Dane’s deafness propelled her into roles of advocacy and family support, a topic she speaks on widely and writes about regularly in her column “In a Perfect World,” for The Hands & Voices Communicator. Leeanne is the editor/contributing author of The Book of Choice: Support for Parenting a Child Who Is Deaf or Hard of Hearing, and Educational Advocacy for Students Who Area Deaf or Hard of Hearing, as well as the writer/producer/director of numerous videos for the field of deafness including the nationally distributed Loss & Found: Following Up After Newborn Hearing Screen Referral; Early Intervention Illustrated (for Boystown Research Hospital); A is for Access: Mainstream Support for D/HH Students; and Teaching the Kids With High-Tech Ears. Professionally, Leeanne Seaver worked as a television writer/producer. She also did a sabbatical as Social Media & Communications Manager for the Kelston Deaf Education Center in Auckland, New Zealand, while living there in 2011, and she has been a contributing editor for Wrightslaw and Harbor House Law Press. She is the co-winner of the 2009 Antonia Brancia Maxon Award for contributions to the field of EHDI.  In January 2010, Redbook Magazine named Seaver a Hot Mama of the Month.

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Susan Elliott, MA NBCT

Susan Elliott has taught and coordinated programs for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students in Colorado public schools at every level from 1977-2014.  She was selected as Colorado Teacher of the Year 2009 and National Finalist.  Born with a progressive hearing loss, she became profoundly deaf as a teenager.  She is National Board Certified and holds master’s degrees in Deaf Education and Educational Administration & Supervision. Susan is a Walden University PhD candidate in Education specializing in Learning, Instruction, and Innovation (LII).  Areas of interest include innovative instruction and assessment, 21st Century learning for career readiness, and K-12 transitions. 

Susan chaired the National Deaf Education Committee while serving 13 years as a member of the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees.  She is currently a Colorado Department of Education Mentor to DHH professionals across the state.  As a National Board member for Hands & Voices, she is a strong advocate for parent involvement in education.

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susan

Stephanie Olson

Stephanie Olson, B.A., is the Family Consultant for the Bill Daniels Center for Children's Hearing at Children's Hospital Colorado.  Stephanie serves as a liaison between families and the health care system.  Stephanie works to develop and support multi-disciplinary relationships which serve as a solid base of support for children and families.  She has worked with families and children from birth to three through the Colorado Home Intervention Program since 1995.  Stephanie has been a D/HH Guide since 1998 and currently serves on the Colorado Hands & Voices board and the Hands and Voices Head Quarters.  In 2008, Stephanie participated in a medical mission trip through Soaring Hope, working with children in residential deaf schools in Northern China.  During 2009, she was part of a team from Children’s Hospital Colorado that traveled to London, South Africa, Brazil and New Zealand presenting on best practices in Auditory Neuropathy. Stephanie contributed to the Family Centered Care/Family Support component of those presentations.  Stephanie spoke at the First International Congress in Austria on Family Centered Early Intervention in 2012 and 2014.  In 2005 Stephanie received the Colorado Hands and Voices Families First award and in 2009 she and a colleague received the Service Excellence award at Children’s Hospital Colorado for collaborating with patients and families to increase access to all areas of communication in the hospital.  Stephanie was identified with a hearing loss at the age of three, using hearing aids for most of her life and received a cochlear implant in 2006.  In her presentations and her work, Stephanie brings this unique perspective to the team and those that she serves. 

Samples of topics include:

  • Helping Families See into the Crystal Ball-
  • Roots and Wings: Promoting Strong Foundations For Children with Hearing Loss: 
  • You Are the Right Person for the Job Teaching the Language of Cultural Inclusion-Incidental Learning
  •  Including Your Child in all Aspects of their Community
  • Families First: Creating a Climate of Family Support through an Understanding of Professional Responsibilities to Public/Private Partnerships
  • The Family Consultant: Supporting Families from a Non-Clinical Perspective
  • Enhancing Support for Early Identified Children and their Families Using D/HH Professionals When Faith, Family Values and Hearing Loss Cross Paths
  • Journey through Adolescence: Challenges for Teens Who are Deaf/Hard of hearing
  • The Importance of Perspectives on the Journey: Parents, Siblings and Adults who Deaf/Hard of Hearing
  • Supporting families with Auditory Neuropathy
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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 President of BC Hands & Voices, and one of the founding members.  She was also the Parent Coordinator for the Guide By Your Side program in B.C. for five years, 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 currently works in early intervention as a Speech-Language Pathologist, supporting families of young children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Teresa

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.

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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."

Karen
ELIZABETH L. SEELIGER, M.A., CCC-A

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.

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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 Programs for Hands & Voices HQ. Lisa is one of the founding board members of Indiana Hands & Voices in 2004 and serves on several councils and committees that include, the Indiana Department of Education Special Education Advisory Council which she co-chairs and the AAP EHDI Task Force.

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.

Lisa

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, Along with being on of the Hands & Voices Chapter Support Coordinators, Terri is also the Executive Director of Georgia Hands & Voices and Guide By Your Side Program Coordinator.

Terri combines her previous experience as a professional Early Intervention Parent Educator and a parent of a child with hearing loss to infuse every presentation with cutting edge information that’s real-world relevant. She and her husband, Matt, have two children: daughter Molly, and son, Riley, (who was identified with profound bilateral hearing loss at two months). Degreed in Social Sciences/Psychology, Terri participates in the Georgia Stakeholder’s UNHSI Task Force, Georgia’s team for the Summit on Deaf Education, the Georgia Pathway Language to Literacy coalition, as well as many other local projects and task forces.  She sat on the National EHDI 2011 Planning Committee, and is co-chair of the CDC’s Early Hearing Detection & Intervention Parent-to-Parent Subcommittee, as well as serving as parent representative to the AAHBEI (American Association for Home-Based Early Interventionists) governing board.  Terri is co-author of the DECISION GUIDE TO COMMUNICATION CHOICES published by the CDC, and has spoken at numerous conferences including a plenary presentation at the National Summit on Deaf Education in 2008. Terri says “I have come to a point where being involved with families as they navigate their way through the childhood of their special child, and with professionals who support and guide us, is where I want to be. Not because I was thrust into it, but because I have found my passion.” She currently lives with her family in Acworth, Georgia.

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

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Terri

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 Guide By Your Side Coordinator for Oregon’s EHDI program since 2009, Helen has built relationships statewide both professionally and with other parents. Helen is a Mentor for the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality (NICHQ) EHDI Learning Collaborative, as well.

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