Announcing Three New Board Members
Introducing Three New Board Members
CSD proudly announces three new board members, of diverse backgrounds and talents, who will serve on its Board of Directors effective July 1, 2016. These new members, Marilyn Jean Smith, Mark Seeger and Rogelio Fernandez, Jr. join seven other board members whose role is to provide overall strategic guidance to the organization.
Marilyn Jean Smith founded the Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services (ADWAS) in Seattle and directed the organization from 1986-2011. He is considered the mother of the anti-violence movement in Deaf America, and received her B.A. and M.A. from Gallaudet University.
Her work at ADWAS brought many awards, including one from President Clinton, Gallaudet University, the National Association of the Deaf, Deaf Women United and the Phi Kappa Zeta sorority. Other recognitions include the Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World award, The Sunshine Lady award, the National Network to End Domestic Violence award, Bank of America Hero award, the Deaf Hope Trailblazer award, among others. She received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Gallaudet University in 2004.
Marilyn was Distinguished Alumnus Fellow at Gallaudet University in 2012 and is currently Principal of The Leading Edge, LLC, and hosts workshops on domestic violence, sexual assault, leadership, board development, fund development, grant writing, personal ethics, organizational development, nonprofit management, and is a motivational keynote speaker. She works throughout the United States and Canada.
Mark Seeger was born and raised in Austin, TX as the proud CODA son of two TSD educators, Julius and Ruth Seeger, who graduated from Gallaudet in 1949. Mark graduated from the University of Texas in 1984 and started his advocacy career in the field of deafness at the Texas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Mark was instrumental in the passage of state legislation in Texas, prior to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, that set the standard for 24/7 relay services nationwide.
Mark continued his career at Sprint as an Account Manager supporting the relationship with the Public Utility Commission of Texas before advancing into marketing management. By 1996, he was responsible for maintaining contract relationships with over 36 state public utility commissions.
In 2002, Mark joined the CSD team as a Government Affairs Officer working with the FCC to help shape the video relay service (VRS) regulations that established reimbursement rates and policies for early providers of the service. At CSD, Mark also managed human service programs, interpreter operations and video relay operations.
In early 2012, Mark returned to Sprint to finish his relay career, primarily managing nationwide marketing for the captioned telephone service, known as CapTel.
Mark retired from Sprint in late 2015 and is now an officer of SeeHarp, Inc., which allows him to do freelance ASL interpreting work in medical and court settings when he is in Austin, as well as the flexibility to travel extensively with his husband, Jeff Harper, who recently retired as an Electrical Engineer from IBM.
Rogelio Fernandez, Jr. was born and raised in El Paso, TX and Cuidad Juarez, Mexico. After attending public schools, he enrolled at the Texas School for the Deaf (TSD) at 16. There, he learned about Deaf culture and ASL and received numerous outstanding achievement awards, such as Athlete and Scholar of the Year. He was also recognized as a member of Who’s Who in American Schools and Programs for the Deaf.
Rogelio attended Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., earning his B.S. in Computer Information Systems in 1999. At Gallaudet, he served as the president and vice president of the Hispanic Student Organization and as vice president of the Kappa Gamma fraternity.
He received a Circle of Excellence award from CSD in 2003 during his tenure there, and currently serves as a Business Account Executive in Austin, Texas with ZVRS. He received Salesperson of the Year awards from ZVRS in 2007 and 2009 for his outstanding achievements in sales.
Rogelio has served on numerous committees and boards. He has been a longtime activist involved in social justice with Latinx Deaf organizations. He is the president of Council de Manos and a board member of Texas Latino Council of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, which he founded in 2004.
Through his consulting company, Manos Communications, he and his wife have traveled extensively to Latin countries to work with the deaf communities there, as well as with the deaf Spanish-speaking population in the United States.
More information about CSD’s board can be found below. Meet some other CSD Board Members here.
Rogelio Fernández Mota
Rogelio Fernández Mota was born and raised in the heart of the border: El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, México. He attended Gallaudet University and received a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems. Rogelio also served as the president and vice-president of the Hispanic Student Organization on campus.
He has been a longtime activist involved in social justice with Latinx Deaf Organizations. He is currently an advisory board member of Manos de Tejas that he founded in 2006, a board of director of Communication Service for the Deaf, and a board member of Texas School for Deaf Foundation. He also served as an advisory board member of National Interpreter Education Center, World Association of Sign Language Interpreters, and a former president of the national organization Council de Manos.
He is an ambitious leader with over 17 years of professional experience in community relations, outreach, marketing, and sales, mainly in the telecommunications relay industry. Through Rogelio’s consulting company, Manos Communications, he and his wife Dr. Carla García-Fernández have worked closely with Latinx Deaf populations across the United States and overseas.
Dr. Mei Kennedy
Dr. Mei Kennedy provides strategic consulting on integrating technology to improve the learning experience for deaf students. Over the past two years, Dr. Kennedy consulted CSD Learns on the development of instructional content for several projects, one of which introduces deaf role models in STEM fields. In addition to her background in Instructional Design, she fosters enhancement in communication accessibility with years of experience in remote real-time transcription services.
Dr. Kennedy obtained her doctorate degree in Instructional Design for Online Learning from Capella University. She also serves on the board of Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc (TDI). She currently resides in Austin, Texas with her husband and two boys. She is a parent, and an advocate, of a hearing son with autism.
Maria Wilson holds a bachelor’s degree with high honors from the University of Texas at Austin and a J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center. Prior to joining CSD, she was an attorney with Bill Gordan and Associates. Maria recently served on the State Bar of Texas Disability Issues Committee, focusing on promoting the Communication Access Fund, which reimburses Texas attorneys for the cost of auxiliary aids and services when meeting with clients who are deaf, deaf-blind, or hard of hearing.
Melissa “echo” Greenlee
Melissa “echo” Greenlee (she/her) is the founder and CEO of deaffriendly.com, a consumer review platform for Deaf, DeafBlind and hard of hearing individuals to rate, review and find deaf-friendly businesses nationwide. In addition to a review platform, she also runs deaffriendly CONSULTING which provides training and education to a range of U.S. businesses from small startups to Fortune 500s striving to become more inclusive.
Dr. Khadijat “Kubby” Rashid
Khadijat “Kubby” Rashid is the Dean of the School of Education, Business and Human Services at Gallaudet, where she’s developed and taught graduate and undergraduate courses in economics, social work, and more. Kubby received her Ph.D. in International Relations from American University. She is a co-author of Citizenship, Politics, Difference: Perspectives from Sub-Saharan African Communities. Kubby has presented at the UN, the White House and several other prominent locations. In 2010, President Obama appointed her as a White House Fellow. Kubby has served on the boards of the Maryland School for the Deaf and Discovering Deaf Worlds.
Thomas Means graduated from the University of Texas with a BBA and a Master in Professional Accounting and is an active CPA. Thomas brings more than 15 years of public accounting and private industry experience to the team. Prior to joining CSD, he worked as an auditor at Ernst & Young. As a former Big 4 auditor, Thomas oversees the payroll, benefits, and financial accounting and reporting. He has served as Treasurer and Board Member of Deaf Action Center.
Marilyn Jean Smith
Marilyn Jean Smith is the founder and former executive director of the Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services (ADWAS) in Seattle and is considered the Mother of the Anti-Violence Movement in Deaf America. She received her B.A. and M.A. from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. Her work at ADWAS brought many awards, including those from President Clinton, Gallaudet University, the National Association for the Deaf, Deaf Women United, and the Phi Kappa Zeta Sorority. She received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Gallaudet University in 2004.
Chris Soukup, a 2001 graduate of Gallaudet University, has held diverse and progressively responsible positions with CSD since the mid-1990s. Since 2005, he has been a member of CSD’s executive leadership team and was appointed by the CSD Board of Directors to lead this organization as chief executive officer in 2014. In this role, he has represented CSD at national and international events relating to the deaf: community-based forums, educational panels, and instructional workshops. Chris has also served on a number of prominent committees and advisory boards.
Mark Seeger, the proud CODA son of Texas School for the Deaf educators, is a lifelong communication advocate. Born in Austin and a graduate of the University of Texas, Mark began his career at the Texas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Here, he was instrumental in the State Legislation that set the standard for 24/7 Relay Services nationwide. Mark joined CSD as a Government Affairs Officer shaping the VRS reimbursement regulations for early providers. Now, as a freelance ASL interpreter in medical and court settings, he has the flexibility to travel with his husband, Jeff Harper.
Shireen Hafeez is the founder of Deaf Kids Code, a first-of-its-kind nonprofit that teaches Deaf and hard-of-hearing children computer and technology skills so they can be economically and socially successful in life. The national outreach organization has worked with more than 9,000 children in over 40 locations around the United States. Hafeez founded Deaf Kids Code to support future generations of Deaf children, including her son, so they can thrive in ways that previous generations couldn’t due to societal and linguistic barriers.
Deaf Kids Code is founded on the belief that the digital age is the great equalizer. The organization empowers Deaf and hard-of-hearing children by equipping them with the technology and design skills they need to succeed in today’s competitive workforce. By teaching them the universal language of computing, students have more substantial opportunities to enter top-tier colleges and pursue fulfilling careers in technology.
TJay Middlebrook is an equity-focused leader who has dedicated his life to advocating for the rights and needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals. His advocacy spans the globe, successfully affecting policy changes for disability communities in Uganda as well as in the United States.
Middlebrook has a proven track record of advocating for disability rights throughout different sectors. In 2013, he traveled to Uganda to educate Deaf Ugandans about self-advocacy in communication access. He also supported the Uganda Association for the Deaf while and the Uganda Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development to amend the country’s Persons with Disabilities Act of 2006. In Minnesota, TJay collaborated with domestic violence shelters and organizations to develop procedures that guarantee accessible communication and other accommodations for Deaf adults and children who are survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault. Later, as an accessibility coordinator for the City of Saint Paul in Minnesota, Middlebrook worked closely with public officials and agencies to enforce accessibility throughout the City’s services and programs.
Middlebrook currently serves at the Minnesota Department of Human Services as a Regional Service Supervisor. He oversees Regional Services for Deaf and hard of hearing individuals as well as individuals experiencing hearing loss.