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Diverse Family Leaders:
Making Progress and Showing You How!

Date: Thursday, August 11, 2022 .
Time: 11:00am – 12:00pm MT (Adjust your time zone accordingly.)

Description: Join the Hands & Voices Family Leadership in Language and Learning (FL3) Center for a look at how to recruit and empower new family leaders from diverse, cultural backgrounds to become leaders in the systems that serve families with children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

Drawing from their own experience as culturally diverse family leaders, Marbelly Barahona (LA Hands & Voices) and Lydia Hernandez (IL Hands & Voices) will engage attendees in a presentation that will share innovative strategies and creative solutions through different models, to support underrepresented families, as well as support diverse parent leadership development.


Primary Audience: Family leaders, family-based support organizations, Deaf-based organizations. EHDI program staff, EHDI systems stakeholders, and Pediatric Healthcare Professionals are also welcome.


Marbely Barahona, Louisiana Hands & Voices

Marbely is originally from Caracas-Venezuela and has lived in New Orleans for the past 29 years. Married to Asahel Barahona, and parents of 6 children, 2 girls and 4 boys, their oldest son is profoundly deaf and received a cochlear implant at the age of 5. Graduated from high school in 2018, he took two sabbatical years to serve a mission for his church. He is now attending the Utah Valley University. Marbely is a board member of LA Hands & Voices, a Guide by Your Side Bilingual Parent Guide, and a member of the Louisiana Advisory Council for the Early Identification. She has participated in several collaborative teams through the years such as the NICHQ IHSIS collaboration, serving as my state team’s Parent Consultant. She works part-time for the LA EHDI Program as a Bilingual Parent Consultant, helping Spanish-speaking families navigate the EHDI process. In addition, one of her responsibilities in this position is to contact all families of babies reported “lost to follow-up” to support and assist them in obtaining needed services and maintain tracking data of the results. With Louisiana Hands & Voices Guide by Your Side program, as the only bilingual Guide, she serves her community from the very big cities to the small rural towns of the state. “Working with Latino families is my calling. I feel that we can get better results when families are informed, educated, and take full responsibility for their children’s journey.” For the past 13 years, she has dedicated her career and her life to do that. After supporting and assisting families, “it is most rewarding to me to see families that I serve become independent, self-sufficient, and empowered to influence their children’s future.”

Lydia Hernandez, Illinois Hands & Voices

Lydia graduated Cum Laude with her BA in Liberal Studies from the University of Illinois at Springfield. Her daughter was diagnosed with hearing loss at the age of 4, since then she has taken an active role in providing guidance to families like hers. In 2014, Lydia was hired as a Spanish-speaking Parent Guides in which she swiftly took a leadership role and since then has been helping bilingual families in Illinois. As a board member with IL Hands & Voices, she has taken the leadership role in enhancing Spanish involvement within the community. As the Vice President of Illinois Hands & Voices she focuses her efforts on inclusion of the Spanish-speaking families in Illinois who need support in their native language. She is actively involved in projects enhancing the EHDI system on a state and national level, including managing referrals for Spanish-speaking families that have been confirmed with a hearing loss through the Illinois Department of Public Health. Lydia works on translations for Illinois Guide By Your Side, Illinois EHDI, NCHAM and Illinois Hands & Voices. Through the years she has served as a board member for her Local School Council and volunteers her time with various non-profits due to her daughter with hearing loss also having multiple medical conditions including Celiac Disease and a rare genetic disorder called TRAPS (Tumor- Necrosis Factor Receptor Associated Periodic Syndrome). Lydia was born and raised and continues to live in Chicago with her husband Wilson and four daughters Angela, Lynette, Isabella, and Skylar.