New Faces on the Block

Article excerpt

Chapters

AG Bell relies on strong chapters and strong chapter leaders to share the value of AG Bell to members on a local level. Chapter presidents lead local board meetings, recruit members and volunteers, connect families to local resources, serve on statewide coalition groups, spend time on advocacy efforts and handle other tasks. It is a job that takes a lot of passion and countless hours. This year we thank 10 outgoing chapter presidents and welcome and salute our new chapter presidents. Meet nine of our new presidents below:

* CALIFORNIA

* Mary Ruth Leen, Teacher of the Deaf and Director of the Family Center at Jean Weingarten Peninsula Oral School

How long have you been affiliated with AG Bell?: I've been affiliated with AG Bell for five years.

How long have you been affiliated with your chapter?: I've been affiliated with my chapter for four years. I feel I am a helpful source of information for my chapter since I'm a professional in the field who has experience dealing with individuals who are hard of hearing. Many of the professionals associated with the chapter were retiring, so it was a good time to step in and take their places.

What are your goals as president?: One of my main goals is to reach out to parents, teach them about AG Bell, and encourage them to join the chapter. I hope that my chapter members can generate a group of parents that will stick with the organization for a long time and become involved. I feel that parents that remain with the organization for long periods of time are a great resource and can become mentors for other new parents that will join in the future. I also want to involve adults who are oral deaf as mentors.

One of the challenges I face is that California is a huge state and our members are spread over a large area. I plan to bring people together through a yearly conference. Finally, I want to help reorganize and restructure the chapter to be as effective as possible and hold a major drive to recruit new members.

* COLORADO

* Angela Weiker, Consumer Advocate for Cochlear America

How long have you been affiliated with AG Bell?: I've been associated with AG Bell for four years.

How long have you been affiliated with your chapter?: I have been a board member in Colorado for one year. I feel very fortunate that my chapter received the "Chapter Excellence Award" at the 2004 AG Bell Convention. I work with a fantastic chapter!

What are your goals as president?: I want to help increase membership in the chapter and continue outreach activities to ensure that we help as many children as possible gain access to oral options.

* CONNECTICUT

* John Flanders, Attorney that represents families in special education and disabilities discrimination cases.

How long have you been affiliated with AG Bell?: I have been with AG Bell since my son lost his hearing to meningitis at age three in 1996. I was on staff at the Volta Bureau from 2000-2002 as a children's rights advocate. I have been a member of the board of directors for the Connecticut chapter since 2001.

How long have you been affiliated with the Connecticut chapter?: I have been a member of the chapter since it was founded. The opportunities to share experiences with people who are facing the same challenges and to work on local issues are the most important part of belonging to this chapter.

What are your goals as president?: I want to continue the successful spring conferences started by our previous president, Karen Biernat. I also want to pass the first law in the country requiring schools to meet the ANSI standard for classroom acoustics.

Other goals include working with providers to make smooth transitions for children moving from birth-to-three services to special education, increase AG Bell's presence across the state and keep members active. Finally, I want to do what I can to ensure that the voices of chapters and parents are included in plans for AG Bell. …