Workshop Descriptions for Saturday
Workshop Descriptions for Sunday
Standing in the midst of President Joe Biden and three former American Presidents, Fire Captain Andrea Hall delivered an inspiring and inclusive Pledge of Allegiance during the 2021 Inauguration. Her 28 years of experience as a firefighter and a leader in multiple departments, lead to her being selected out of thousands of first responders around the country to be part of this historic Inauguration.
As the child of a deaf adult (CODA), she understands the importance of representation. That is why she chose to verbally recite the Pledge of Allegiance and use American Sign Language.
Captain Hall, who is President of IAFF Local 3920, has also made her own mark in Georgia’s history. She was the first woman firefighter hired with Albany Fire Department in Albany, Georgia. In 2004, Hall became the first African American woman to be promoted to captain at Fulton County Fire Rescue. She is currently serving as Captain for the City of South Fulton.
In addition to being promoted to captain, Hall has also served in other capacities with multiple first responder agencies including Chief Executive Officer, Chair of the Board and Licensed Emergency Medical Technician. Hall is also a mentor, instructor and motivational speaker.
Captain Hall has received a plethora of awards and accolades including city and county proclamations, lifesaving, and achievement awards. She serves as a member or appointed leader in various professional and community organizations including International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Society of Fire Service Instructors, International City Managers Association, Women in Fire and Fire Department Safety Officers Association.
With an exemplary record of both technical and administrative proficiency, Captain Hall has earned a reputation for fairness, professionalism, loyalty, and integrity. Her dedication to the communities she serves and her ability to demonstrate compassion, has yielded her the moniker America’s Fire Captain.
Benro Ogunyipe served for six years as president, vice president, and chair of the board of National Black Deaf Advocates, Inc. He is the author of Black Deaf Culture Through the Lens of History, a short commentary on the history, culture, and education of Black Deaf People for the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) supported by the U.S. Department of Education. He also writes stories, accomplishments, and recognition of the Black Deaf Community. Benro currently serves as the Executive Director of the Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission. He previously worked for the Illinois Department of Human Services as Senior Accessibility Specialist, Reasonable Accommodation Specialist, and Investigator of the ADA/Section 504 Discrimination Complaints for 17 years. In 2014, and again in 2016, U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Benro to the National Council on Disability. Benro was also appointed by three different Illinois Governors to public bodies and was an appointed board member of the National Association of the Deaf. He is a seasoned guest lecturer at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Disability Studies and Columbia College Chicago’s Interpreter Training Program on Multicultural Issues. Benro received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Gallaudet University and a Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) degree from DePaul University, School of Public Service.
A native ASL signer, originally from Baton Rouge, LA, MJ Bienvenu received her BA in English and MA in Linguistics from Gallaudet in 1974 and 1983, respectively. She received her Ph.D. in Linguistics specializing in Lexicography from Union Institute and University in 2003. She worked at Gallaudet in various departments; including Linguistics Research Lab and Department of English, for a total of 11 years. She then moved to be a co-director of The Bicultural Center for 7 years. She later became a director of Language and Culture Center for 3 years before she returned to Gallaudet and is now a happily retired professor.
MJ was a sign model for the “Green Books” and was a trailblazer in ASL instruction, beginning in 1977. In addition to teaching, MJ has presented workshops and served as plenary speaker on topics related to ASL, culture, empowerment, interpretation, and Deaf people and various -isms. She was co-author of several videos on ASL numbers and facial grammar. She is also one of pioneers as a Deaf interpreter at major conferences and rallies.
On a personal level, MJ enjoys reading, traveling, and being at home with furry kids.
Reggie Bess was born in Eastpoint, Georgia. He attended public schools beginning in pre-K until he graduated from Clarkston High School in 2001. Reggie received his bachelor's degree in Accounting and Mathematics from Clark Atlanta University (CAU) in 2006. He went on to Valdosta State University where he earned his master's degree in Deaf Education in 2014. In 2018, Reggie became a teacher at Atlanta Area School for the Deaf (AASD). He holds teaching certificates in Middle Grades Math and Deaf Education; he is known for being a highly qualified and engaging teacher. Reggie taught mathematics for several years. He is currently a behavior specialist. He will start his Ph.D. program at Gallaudet University in fall 2021.
Candace Jones is a Black Deaf educator, ASL poet, motivational Speaker and Sign1News anchor. Candace was born and raised in Florida. Candace attended Florida School for the Deaf and graduated as the Class of 2001 Salutatorian. Candace is a graduate of Gallaudet University with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. She also earned a master’s degree in Deaf Education from Valdosta State University. Candace holds multiple certificates in Special Ed. Deaf Ed, K-12, as well as an ASL certificate in the state of Georgia. Candace has been teaching ASL and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) to primarily Deaf and Hard of Hearing BIPOC students for the past 14 years. Candace will start her new job as a co-Director for the ASL Connect program at Gallaudet summer 2021. Candace is a mom of two KODA/CODA teenagers: Nevaeh age 16 and Trevon age 18.
My favorite quote is...I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Dr. Maya Angelou
April Jackson-Woodard, name sign "A" on the middle of chin, a Kansas City, Missouri native who now calls Maryland home. April was born and raised as a translator from a 6th generation Deaf family. Jackson grew up in public schools then earned her bachelor of science degree in Business Administration and minor in Fine Arts specializing in Theatre and Production at Gallaudet University in 2012. Jackson became a professional Deaf interpreter in 2018. She maintains a part-time interpreting schedule in addition to teaching ASL courses at Gallaudet University and Community College of Baltimore County while also leading interpreting workshops.
Topher González Ávila was born in Mexico and grew up in Texas. He’s Deaf as are his parents, siblings and some of his uncles, aunts and cousins! During the day, he works in education. On the side, he works as a freelance video editor. He studied Radio, Television and Film at University of North Texas. He has filmed and edited for companies and businesses. There are infinite things to enjoy but Topher most enjoys, scriptwriting and directing. He has been writing scripts since he can remember.
As a Brown Queer Deaf person, González Ávila never embraced the person he is until his mid-twenties. He believes it has to do with media and how whitewashed it can be. He grew up without BIPOC Deaf role models and especially without Queer Deaf role models. The world as it is right now is a lot different than the world González Ávila grew up in. There is a lot more representation in media now but more representation is still needed. He hopes to bring more Deaf stories to the screen so the Deaf communities can be better represented, allowing the world can see more humanity in the Deaf communities beyond their disabilities. There is so much to the “Deaf” world from sign languages to cultural customs to everything else. Filmmaking is one way to shed more light on this world.
Amy Cohen Efron earned a specialist degree in School Psychology at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. Amy started her professional career as a school psychologist in 1992. Over the last 28 years, she has worked for a non-profit organization, several state schools for the Deaf, and a residential treatment center for Deaf children. As a long-time community activist, advocate, and most recently, artivist: Cohen Efron founded the websites, "Deaf World as Eye See It" (2006-2012) and "AEfron Arts and Culture" (2018-present) where she can express her thoughts in English, American Sign Language and fine arts.
Malika Freeman is from Atlanta, Georgia, but at home everywhere. A unique, deaf soul who loves fashion and art. I like to capture my emotions and give them life by way of photography, fashion, or illustrating.
I'm so exhilarated to share my talents with you guys. Tons of thanks!