Presenter Bureau

Welcome to the Hands & Voices Presenter Bureau.  Looking for a dynamic presenter to inspire your audience of parents with children who are deaf and hard of hearing?  Hoping to inform your professional team or provide insight at an upcoming conference about the needs of families with children who are deaf and hard of hearing? You’ve come to the right place.

Hands & Voices has built a strong network of families, professionals in all related fields, and consumers who are deaf or hard of hearing.  With decades of collective experience between us and our fingers on the pulse of current issues, our team has just what you need.  Explore our topics/presenters and reach out to us at to discuss the possibilities.


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.

More info about Janet...


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.

More info about Cheryl...


Leeanne Seaver, M.A.

H&V Board Member

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.

More info about Leeanne...


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

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."

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.


Candace Lindow-Davies

Candace is the mother of an adult son who is profoundly deaf and has physical/health concerns (affectionately termed “deaf/hard of hearing plus”). 

Candace is the Director of Outreach for Hands & Voices HQ. She supports the work of her D/HH Adult Infusion Co-Directors, provides technical assistance to family-based organizations who are contracted to offer parent support services, works with the US Territories to help develop parent leadership, and is part of the team overseeing the H&V Leadership to Leadership program (L2L). Prior to this, Candace was the Director of MN Hands & Voices at Lifetrack for 16 years, founding that program and expanding it to a statewide Guide By Your Side, ASTra Educational Advocacy program.  In that role, she served as a parent consultant for the MN Dept. of Health's Newborn Hearing Screening Program and the MN Dept. of Health's Newborn Screening Advisory Committee, representing parents of children who are deaf and hard of hearing. She has also served as Co-Chair of the Center for Disease Control's Parent-to-Parent Committee, developing parent materials for national use. She has presented at national, state and local conferences and has also done international work in China.

She is passionate about parent-to-parent support, parent leadership, newborn screening, public health/health disparities, comprehensive information about all communication modalities including cued speech, and children who are deaf/hard of hearing “plus”.

More Info on Candace ...


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.

More Info on 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.

More info about Helen...


Djenne-amal Morris

Djenne has a BA in Psychology/Sociology from Clark University in Worcester, Mass. As a mother of an amazing son with CHARGE Syndrome she strives to build an atmosphere of support and empowerment for families of children with special needs and the professionals who serve them.

More info about Djenne...


Anita Dowd

Anita Dowd, deaf since childhood, is the Executive Staff Advisor at the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.  Not only is she an advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing community in her professional life, but as the mother of two girls who also have a hearing loss, she is also extremely passionate about promoting awareness of various deaf and hard of hearing issues in her personal life as well.

Though she has lived with a hearing loss since a young age, it wasn’t until she became an adult and had two children with a hearing loss that she truly recognized and understood the diverse issues that deaf and hard of hearing people face today. She advocates a multi-faceted approach to these issues as she firmly believes that there is no “one size fits all” solution to the barriers that deaf and hard of hearing individuals face in their lives.

She is passionate about working with families who have deaf and hard of hearing children and is the current president of the Kentucky Chapter of Hands & Voices.  She currently represents parents and individuals with a hearing loss on many boards; the Statewide Advisory Panel for Exceptional Children, Governors Early Childhood Advisory Council, Kentucky Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Advisory board and the Kentucky School for the Deaf Advisory board.

Anita stays busy presenting across Kentucky and the U.S.  Her favorite pastime is talking so she loves the opportunity to talk to everyone.  She has presented on numerous topics related to hearing loss, anything from Advocacy to the Whole Child.  No topic is safe because she loves to talk, learn and share.


Andrea Marwah

Andrea lives in Naperville Illinois with her husband Ajay and their three children, 2 daughters and a son. Her oldest daughter Samantha is profoundly deaf.

Andrea holds a B.A. in Psychology from North Central College. She works as a trainer and consultant for the Illinois School for the Deaf and is the current President for the Illinois chapter of Hands & Voices. She is one of the Hands & Voice ASTra trainers and sits on many advisory boards and committees, including the ISRC Leadership Team, EHDI Work Group, and has sat on the EHDI National Meeting Planning Committee over the past 5 years.

Andrea has supported families who have children who are deaf and hard of hearing since 2006. She presents both locally and nationally on topics relating to special education law, advocacy, education and behavior topic surrounding deafness. She also provides one to one consult for families and professionals who are having conflict within their IEP team, she believes that protecting the parent/school relationship is the most important 1st step to a successful IEP team. Andrea also spent 6 years on the Naperville Residents with Disabilities Commission where she worked with the city on ADA Compliance.


Cora Shahid

Cora is a Parent, Executive Director and Founding Board Member of California Hands & Voices, Fostering Joy Core Team Member and Leadership-to-Leadership (L2L) Graduate and Mentor

Cora Shahid and her husband Naseer live in San Diego, California where they are proud parents to Christina (31), Zain (18) and Ibrahim (12). Both boys are deaf/hard of hearing; one was identified through the newborn screening process and one was later identified at the age of 13 months, her daughter was born with gastroschisis resulting in a lifesaving surgery immediately following birth. Cora is a hard-working parent leader who seeks out opportunities to challenge herself and others to continuously grow both personally and professionally. Her wish for all children to grow up feeling safe with a strong sense of belonging supported by peers, family and their community. Cora enjoys helping parents recognize the joy in raising their children and walking by their side as they become advocates for their children. A sample of Cora's background includes working as an ASL Interpreter at Wichita State University, Montessori Preschool Teacher, Parent Mentor, and founding Board Member for California Hands & Voices. in 2019 Cora was awarded the 2014 Lee Katz Award (ASDC) and 2017 Parent of the Year award (CAL-ED) in honor of her commitment to ensuring no family walks this journey alone. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering for Boy Scouts of America and spending time with her family outdoors.


Beth Jones, B.A., M.Ed.

Beth is a parent, The Executive Director for Nevada Hands & Voices, and a Fostering Joy Core Team Member, Mentor for Leadership to Leadership Program

Beth lives in Henderson, Nevada with her amazing husband Josh and their three wonderful kids: Alexis, Coleman, and Harrison. Before becoming a mother, Beth earned Bachelor of Education in Special Education and Master of Education in Special Education degrees, working for many years as a teacher of students with Autism and a Behavior Mentor Teacher. Her oldest and youngest children were diagnosed at early ages as being deaf/hard of hearing and has worked diligently ever since to educate herself to be able to support her own children in their needs, as well supporting others throughout Nevada. Beth has been involved with Nevada Hands & Voices since 2013, starting out as "just a mom" and then quickly moving into a Parent Guide position. She has served as the Guide By Your Side Program Coordinator since 2016 and became Executive Director in 2020. Beth also sits on the Nevada EHDI Stakeholder and the Legislative sub-committee for the Nevada Commission for Persons who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Speech Impaired. Beth is a graduate of Partners in Policymaking, a member of the Fostering Joy Core Team, and is a Mentor for the Hands & Voices Leadership-to-Leadership Program. Her area of interest in presenting is Fostering Joy.

Beth's Photo

Dr. Rashaun Davis

Rashaun is a parent and is with the Fostering Joy Advisory Team Member, Delaware HV Team Member, DE - EHDI Board Member; he holds degrees in Doctorate of Ministry, Master of Divinity, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration

Dr. Rashaun Davis is a 21st Century Advocate, Educator, and Strategist specializing in helping others maximize their potential to maximize impact. A Multifaceted, and goal oriented professional with a passion for equity, Dr. Davis possesses over twenty years of experience working in training and development and leadership roles with varied populations. Dr. Davis considers himself self-motivated, and an energetic problem solver that places emphasis on inclusion, a drive for results, and leveraging innovation.

These acquired skills were obtained at an early age while growing up in Trenton, NJ and garnered while gaining his undergraduate degree at University of Delaware and postgraduate degrees from New Brunswick Theological Seminary and United Theological Seminary. The acquired passion was focused and unleashed when his daughter was born with hearing loss. Dr. Davis and his wife swiftly embraced their roles as advocates and passionately pursued avenues that would develop their daughter into the most productive, self-aware and confident child possible. Dr. Davis is married to his wife of 17 years Tyheshia, and parent to Jyare and Maddison Davis.

Dr. Davis’s affiliations and appointments include former board member of the Parent Information Center of Delaware an organization that educates, informs, and advocates for families of children with special needs. Governor appointment to the state of Delaware Early Hearing Detection Intervention (EHDI), Delaware Hands and Voices advisory board member, Fostering Joy Core Team Member, and Omega Psi Fraternity, Inc. This commitment to advocacy is driven by the philosophy that accessibility is only beneficial if it is accessible to all.

Dr Davis

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