About MNCDHH

PURPOSE

The Commission of Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans is a Governor appointed Commission that advocates for equal opportunity for Minnesotans who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing.

WE WORK WITH THE COMMUNITY TO

Identify barriers to equal opportunity

Develop solutions

Empower by building community capacity

Advocate for solutions through civic engagement

GENERAL INFORMATION

Directory
Five (5) Year Strategic Plan
How to Become a Member
Contact Us
Map

This Year Minutes from Commission Meetings
Coming soon.

Past Minutes from Commission Meetings
Minutes from Commission Meetings – 2014
Minutes from Commission Meetings – 2013
Minutes from Commission Meetings – 2012
Minutes from Commission Meetings – 2011
Minutes from Commission Meetings – 2010
Minutes from Commission Meetings – 2009

TESTIMONIALS

“MNCDHH helped me share my personal testimony with legislators about two of my three daughters, Sophia and Linnea, who have severe-profound hearing losses. Minnesota was far behind other states with early hearing detection and I am pleased that through the efforts of MNCDHH and stakeholders active in passing EHDI legislation, children with hearing loss will have the opportunity to reach their full potential. By catching hearing loss early, we can make monumental differences in the lives of children and families, regardless of the communication option chosen.”

-Trent Brown (testified before the House Health and Human Services Committee to advocate for EHDI legislation)

Directory

The MNCDHH Board is comprised of Advisory Council Representatives and At-Large Members. Advisory Council Representatives are selected from the 8 statewide Advisory Councils that advise the Department of Human Services Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division. At-large Members can be selected from any area of Minnesota. All MNCDHH Board Members bring the concerns of their communities to MNCDHH and help to communicate the work that MNCDHH is doing back home.

DHHSD Advisory Council Members

Advisory Council Representatives are selected from the 8 statewide Advisory Councils that advise the Department of Human Services Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division.

Lyle Hoxtell

Region: Northwest
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Lyle Hoxtell is a member of the NWMN Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing Advisory Board. He has been hard of hearing and wearing hearing aids since 1990. Lyle has worked as Otter Tail County Public Health Coordinator on Aging for 10 years. He earned a Master of Divinity Degree from Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Mn., and a Masters Degree in Guidance and Counseling from North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND.. Along with his employment as a counselor for the State of North Dakota for 19 years, he was active in many community organizations and projects such as organizing the Jamestown Hospice program and asset building for youth. Serving on boards and community committees in Fergus Falls and Otter Tail County doesn’t stop him from fishing and yard work. Lyle enjoys creating projects out of wood and metal. Lyle is originally from Ortonville, MN., and lived and working in North Dakota for 25 years before returning to the promised land in Fergus Falls in 1998.

Areas of interest: public access and consumer advocacy: education.

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Jason Valentine

Jason Valentine

Jason Valentine, of Minneapolis, is a counselor with the Minnesota Chemical Dependency Program for Deaf and hard-of-Hearing Individuals in Minneapolis. Valentine earned his Master’s of Social Work degree with a cencentration in maternal ond childhealth leadership, developmenthal disabilities, and health care delivery systems, as well as his bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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Sue Gensmer

Susan Gensmer

Region: South East
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Sue Gensmer, of Stewartville, is a parent of a young man who has been deaf for his entire life and has been actively involved in his life and education. She knows from firsthand experience the challenges that he has faced with his hearing impairment. Sue has worked in Administration at a small, local hospital for the past fourteen years. She is also a member of the Southeastern Minnesota Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Advisory Committee for the past several years.

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Michele Isham, Chair

Region: East Central
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Michele Isham has been working as a teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing since 1992 for Benton Stearns Education District in Sartell. She graduated from Western Oregon State College with a degree in Special Education with an emphasis on Deaf Education. She also received a degree in Elementary Education from the University of Oregon. Michele is a member of the E/W Regional Advisory Committee with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services. She also serves on the MN Deaf/Blind network, Region 5 and 7 Teachers of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing network and her regional Early Hearing Detection and Intervention team. Michele lives in St. Cloud where she grew up and is a proud mother of 2 great kids.

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Nancy Diener

Region: Northeast
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Dr. Nancy McFarlin Diener is an assistant professor in the Deaf Studies Program at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Her doctorate is in Educational Leadership and her dissertation was titled: “Cultural Themes Across Generations: Exploring Changes in Lived Experiences of Six Deaf Individuals”. She holds the CI/CT Sign Language Interpreter Certification from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and has interpreted in a variety of settings including medical, political, education, video-relay, and performing arts. Previously, Nancy worked in the office of Disability Resources as an Academic Advisor for Deaf, Hard of Hearing and DeafBlind students and coordinator of academic support services. Nancy also serves on the Northeast Region Advisory Board. Raised in the Twin Cities, Nancy has lived in Duluth for 26 years, and now calls Duluth home. She and her husband Tom have three grown children.

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Adrienne Haugen

Region: Central
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Adrienne Haugen aka Ade is progressive deafblind to include both residual vision and hearing loss and uses limited sign language. She has served in other deafblind organizations; But, is currently serving three: as Commissioned Member of the Commission Serving Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans; as a Member and Representative of the West-Central Advisory Committee of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division of St. Cloud, Minnesota; and, as DeafBlind Committee Member of the State Blind Rehab/State Services for the Blind DeafBlind Committee.

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Roberta Johnson

Region: South
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Roberta Johnson is a Placement Specialist with Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Mankato, MN. This agency is within MN Department of Employment and Economic Development. She has performed a variety of positions over her forty year period of employment with this agency. Roberta has provided services to consumers with a variety of disabilities. Over the last twenty five years, she has provided job placement services to consumers who are deaf and hard of hearing. Roberta has served on the SW DHHS Advisory Committee in the past and currently, is serving as their chairperson. In the past, she completed training in Deafness and Rehabilitation at University of Northern Illinois. She also completed training in American Sign Language at South Central College, North Mankato, MN.

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Brenda Ackerson

Brenda Ackerson

Region: NW
Email

Brenda Ackerson is a regional representative from the Upper NW Advisory Committee.  She currently works as a Low-Incidence Facilitator and Assistive Technology Coordinator for the Bemidji Regional Inter-District Council and has directly served students who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing for 13 years.  As an administrator she assists schools in providing licensed consultants for students who are deaf and hard of hearing, provides parent support opportunities and organizes activities for students to interact with peers with hearing loss.  She studied at Gallaudet University and served on the Distance Opportunity Interpreter Training National Advisory Board.  She has her Administrative License in Special Education, Masters of Education and has a BA in Speech Pathology and Audiology.

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At-Large Members

At-large Members can be selected from any area of Minnesota.

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Alan Parnes

Alan Parnes

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Alan Parnes has worked as a deafness professional for 41 years, 21 of those years here in MN as a vocational rehabilitation counselor for the deaf with the MN VR Services in the MN Dept. of Employment and Economic Development. He is retiring(ed) effective March 26, 2010 and will devote considerable time to being an advocate for the deaf. Previously, Alan worked in Ohio as a program administrator for a community services program for the deaf and hard of hearing; in Michigan as an executive director for another community services program for the deaf and hard of hearing and as an executive director for a Center for Independent Living Center and in Indiana as a VR counselor for the DHH. Alan has previously been appointed to the Commision in the 1990’s for 2 terms and looks forward to being active again with MNCDHH.
Alan hopes to be especially active in the area of employment issues affecting deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind individuals. Communication in the workplace has been an ongoing and long standing concern for Alan. He recently joined the Collaboration for Communicative Access via Captioning (CCAC), a national online advocacy group that was formed this past December. He will be the lead person for employment related issues. Of special interest is the need for greatly reduced costs or no costs to employers of D/DB/HH employees for interpreter and CART services.

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John Lee Clark

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John Lee Clark is a deaf-blind writer and freelance editor. His writings have appeared in many publications, including The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Hollins Critic, McSweeney’s, Poetry, Sign Language Studies, and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. His chapbook of poems is Suddenly Slow (Handtype Press, 2008) and he edited the anthology Deaf American Poetry (Gallaudet University Press, 2009). He is a 2011-2012 Intermedia Arts Center Beyond the Pure Writing Fellow and holds another fellowship at The Loft Literary Center. He is married to the cartoonist Adrean Clark, and they live in suburban Twin Cities with their three sons.

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Tracy Ivy

Tracy Ivy

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Tracy Ivy will serve as an at-large member.  She served as a member of the Deaf Health Community committee with the National Center or Deaf Health Research and has taught American Sign Language in secondary settings in both New York and Minnesota. She worked for IBM as a software engineer and was  a Deaf Service Coordinator in Illinois. She has two Masters degrees- one in Secondary Deaf Education of Students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and another in Information Technology.  Her undergraduate degree is in Criminal Justice and she has an AA degree in Accounting.  All of her degrees came from the Rochester Institute for Technology and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Tracy is deaf.

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John Wodele

John Wodele

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John Wodele will serve as an at-large member. He was born and raised in Wabasha and served for three terms as mayor of his home town .  While living in Wabasha, Wodele worked for 13 years in the private sector as co-owner and president of Wabasha Transfer, Inc. In 1985 he joined the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office as manager of media, criminal justice policy, legislative relations, and eventually, chief of staff.  He was appointed by President Clinton to the Federal Home Loan Back on which he served for 6 years.  He is best known for his role as Director of Communications and spokesperson for former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura and as a talk-radio host on AM 1500, KSTP in St. Paul, MN.  Currently Wodele is owner and principal of Wodele Creative, a public relations and communications marketing firm based in St. Paul, MN.   He is a graduate of the U of MN, School of Mass Communication .  Wodele has had a progressive hearing loss since he was a young child that was not identified until he was in his early 30s.  MN Post wrote an article about John’s appointment MN Post Article

Emily Smith-Lundberg

Emily Smith-Lundberg

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Emily Smith-Lundberg, a Deaf Minnesotan who is the  founder and camp director of Dreams and Inspirations, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Camps and Retreats (www.dreamsandinspirations.com)  at Confidence Learning Center (www.campconfidence.com) near Brainerd, Minnesota. Emily was raised in rural Minnesota and mainstreamed from K- 12 in the public school system and had a wonderful experience.  Her mother was her strong advocate to ensure that she got equal education and rights.  Emily’s mother brought her to MCDHH meetings when she was a young girl, and is thrilled to be now on board.  Emily’s parents also made sure that she had the opportunity to meet other Deaf peers, adults, role models and to attend many different events within the Deaf community, Deaf camps, and many more (a-plenty of driving to do this!).  Emily attended Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York and Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. Dreams and Inspirations provide new unique programs designed for specific groups in the Deaf, DeafBlind, & Hard of Hearing community.  We have a great range of retreats, such as Koda (Kids of Deaf adults) Family Retreats, Deaf Women with Breast Cancer & Survivors, DeafBlind Camp, Family retreats for families with hearing parents and Deaf and Hard of Hearing children, Sibling Camp for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Hearing siblings – and so many more!  One of the many reasons that Emily founded this program is because she had the personal experience of attending retreats/camps for families and saw that there was a need for a centralized location to have retreats within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. Emily is the Vice Chair Member of Minnesota EHDI (Early Hearing Detection and Intervention) Advisory Committee, which she has been involved since November of 2008.  She is also the Chairperson of the Minnesota Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services of Central Minnesota Advisory Committee, since January of 2009.  Emily is married to Dr. Daniel Lundberg who is also Deaf.  They have two beautiful young children who are hearing and bilingual – in American Sign Language and English. 

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MNCDHH Staff

Mary Hartnett, Executive Director

Mary Hartnett
Mary Hartnett, Executive Director

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For over 30 years Mary Hartnett has worked with the deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind communities in many different roles. Mary has been an educational sign language interpreter, a freelance sign language interpreter, a lobbyist, a community organizer and an executive director of three different nonprofit agencies. Mary has received awards from the Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens, The Minnesota DeafBlind Association, the Ramsey County Bar Association, The Dispute Resolution Center, Lifetrack Resources, the Public Policy Award for Age and Disability from the Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Antonia Branca Award for Excellence in Early Hearing Detection and Intervention from the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management and the Center for Disease Control.

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Anna Paulson, Coordinator of Educational Advacement & Partnerships

Anna Paulson, Coordinator of Educational Advancement & Partnerships

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Anna Paulson, M.Ed is a former instructor and Senior Teaching Specialist at the University of Minnesota for over 18 years. Anna Paulson is a licensed teacher in the areas of Elementary Education and Deaf/Hard of Hearing Education. She has been an instructor in the teacher prepration programs in the areas of Deaf/Hard of Hearing Education and Early Childhood Special Education. She was the Part C coordinator during the inception years in Michigan, and has years of general and special education teaching experience.

Beth Fraser, Government Relations Director

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Beth Fraser comes to the Commission with 17 years of legislative experience. She collaborated with the Commission on voter outreach efforts during her eight years at the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office under Secretary Mark Ritchie, where she served as Deputy Secretary of State and Director of Governmental Affairs. Beth led the fight against the Photo ID constitutional amendment and won passage of numerous bills to modernize our election system and ensure that all eligible voters could easily cast ballots. Beth oversaw the creation of the Safe at Home address confidentiality program for survivors of domestic violence – the strongest program of its kind in the country. Prior to the Secretary of State’s Office, Beth spent 10 years in the nonprofit sector advocating for progressive public policy, working on issues such as voting rights, money in politics, corporate accountability and state budget issues.

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Contractors/Vendors

Emory Dively, Outreach and Civic Engagement Specialist

Emory Dively

Emory Dively is the current co-Pastor of Deaf Life Church-Deafblind, St Paul, Faribault and Rochester since 1997. He has served as an Election Judge for Ramsey County since 2012, and also serves as treasurer of both Minnesota Deafblind Association and World Deaf Assemblies of God Fellowship.

Emory is the former president of Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens and its MADC Charitable Fund for 10 years. (1999 to 2009). He has traveled internationally to over 27 countries and loves to eat international foods and learn some foreign sign language and meet new deaf friends.

He was also co-named by Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie as a 2009 National Association of Secretaries of State Medallion Award recipient and also named a 2008 St Paul Neighborhood Honor Roll: Highland Park District Council recipient along with his wife. He also ran as endorsed Minnesota House of Reprsentative 64B (Greater Highland Park Area) candidacy in 2006 and 2008.

Emory and his wife currently reside in Highland Park and they have three grandchildren.

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Sarah Arana, Communications Specialist

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As the Communications Specialist, Sarah is responsbile for developing and posting content for the website and social media. She also assists with project management in the areas of Education, Age-Related Hearing Loss, and Legislation. Sarah represents the Commission at community events and helps to promote the Commission’s strategic plan.

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AllOut Marketing

AllOut Marketing is best known for their marketing expertise and implementation through advanced communication technologies and applications, as well as for their in-depth understanding of Deaf culture and the experiences of consumers with varying levels of hearing ability. AllOut Marketing will assist the Commission with migration to a new website.

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Digiterp Communications

Digiterp Communications strives to create resources, both human and technical, which build bridges across the linguistic and social divides preventing us from reaching our potential as individuals and communities. Digiterp Communications produces weekly legislative vlogs for the Commission.

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