Family Support, Hands & Voices

The 2019 Hands & Voices Leadership Conference

The H&V Leadership Conference is an annual event that is a reflection of what happens every day throughout the Hands & Voices world.  I am inspired by our chapter leaders who are making a difference, and I came home with notes from the sessions to do better in my own work every day at H&V Headquarters.  I walk out the door, filled in my soul, and encouraged in the work we are doing.

~Janet Des Georges, Executive Director

The 2019 Hands & Voices Leadership Conference took place at the Kellogg Center on the campus of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. It was Hands & Voice’s largest conference to date with over 300 attendees.

The Hands & Voices Leadership Conference brings together family leaders from all over the world to develop skills and receive training on how to provide leadership to others and affect systemic change where they live. It is the only conference of its kind devoted exclusively to train family members, with children who are deaf or hard of hearing, to be effective agents of change.

The conference theme this year was, “Every Child, Every Family, Every Leader.” Karen Putz, Co-Director of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Infusion, opened the conference sharing how each of us is a leader. Here are some excerpts:

Every family is dynamic.  Every family is different.  When we think we know the answers for a family, we are often proven wrong.  That is why we know we must empower families to make the choices that are right for them, and we also know that sometimes going down that wrong road makes that choice right.  We know it.  And in Hands & Voices, we take the journey with the family, not for them. 

And there’s three things that are always going to guide you in moments of doubt, in moments of cloudiness:  kindness, compassion, and advocacy.  Lean on those three words anytime you work with families as yourself, as a leader, as a guide, as a parent to parent, as a deaf and hard of hearing person helping families.  Are you being kind, are you being compassionate?

You are having an impact.  Those little small things you do, the kind smiles that you gave a new parent, the hug, the support, the way you share your words, the way you expand their ‑‑ the way you give them resources, that matters.  You have an impact.  You can read the full transcript here: Every Child, Every Family, Every Leader Plenary

From Friday to Sunday, the schedule was jam packed with workshops, presentations, and gatherings.

Friday night, for the first time, we had a talent show. The talent display was amazing! Everyone came together to create a show like no other.

A couple of first-time attendees came to learn “Providing Support Without Bias.”

Kentucky Hands & Voices won the Innovation Station with their submission of “Trading Cards” featuring Deaf and Hard of hearing role models in their state.

Andrea Stambaugh of Illinois Hands & Voices shared:

Attending the Leadership Conference is always my favorite time of year. This year was perfect! Not only did we get to visit the beautiful campus of Gallaudet University, but it was the biggest conference attendance yet! The conference is always jam packed with fun and informational sessions. On Friday night we attended the “mixer” and I feel every year that after the activity I have an even greater connection to the other leaders involved in Hand & Voices.  The sessions this year covered a wide variety of topics! I always try to attend sessions about things I know nothing or little about and incorporate a few sessions involving things I really love, like Deaf Plus topics! We also had inspiring and educational key note speakers that really left an impression on me even weeks after the conference was over. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to attend this years Leadership Conference and I am already counting down the days until next year!

Next year’s conference will be in Tennessee, hosted by Tennessee and Kentucky Hands & Voices.

To view more Hands & Voices conference photos, follow us on Instagram: Hands & Voices on Instagram


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