Connect Direct is pleased to announce that we have acquired Business Development Manager Vannessa LeBoss, as of July 1st, 2018. Given her 19 years of experience supporting and spearheading corporate expansion through finance, HR, sales and operations, her role within Connect Direct will be impactful. Connect Direct will utilize this position to establish and develop relationships for effective growth and implementation of direct services in ASL.
Director of Connect Direct Craig Radford shares, “Given Vannessa’s extensive background in successfully expanding opportunities for the organizations she has worked in, my team and I are thrilled to have her onboard.” Ms. LeBoss has a degree in Business Management and has worked in the field of American Sign Language for nearly two decades. Throughout her career, she has laid an integral foundation of education and expansion related to appropriate utilization of interpreters and technology within the ASL community to businesses and organizations throughout the U.S., and thus brings an unparalleled industry expertise into Connect Direct.
Linda: This is How Success Happens, where we talk to Polar explorers, war correspondents, founders, ultra-marathoners, authors, artists, and a range of other unique personalities to help you understand the capabilities behind how success happens.
Neil Armstrong: It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
Speaker 3: When I’m training for an ultra marathon, anywhere from 100 to 120 miles a week would be in my training cycle. Lots of miles.
Speaker 4: We sold something like 250,000 books.
Linda: I’m the managing editor at Entrepreneur.com and your host, Linda Lacina. Today we’re excited to have a very special guest. Chris Soukup, the CEO of Communication Service for the Deaf. It’s a nonprofit dedicated to creating opportunity for the deaf community. What started as a grassroots organization has grown into one of the largest organizations of its kind. One that, this year added a special social impact fund to help deaf entrepreneurs get the funding and support they need to start businesses. He’ll talk about transforming this organization to meet the challenges facing the deaf community today, the important role entrepreneurship can play, and how we can all think differently about creating opportunity. How are you, Chris?
Chris: Hello. It’s a great pleasure to be here.
Linda: I also would like to introduce Terry Hayes interpreting for us today. Tell us, Chris, a little bit about yourself, but also about CSD. Can you get us started? Get us all on a level playing field?
Chris: Sure. CSD was formed in 1975 with a $15,000 grant from the state of South Dakota. We opened our doors, and the very first service that we provided to the community was sign language interpreting services. Through the years CSD has taken on additional dimensions and has grown to become a worldwide organization continuing to be dedicated to the deaf and hard of hearing community. We provide today a broad range of products, programs, and services all engineered to elevate the quality of the life experience for this population. I’ve been involved with the organization myself my entire life, and I’m very, very proud of our journey as a company, and the impact that we’ve been able to have, and our continuing commitment to the ideas that we know are possible, or for the deaf community.
CSD is especially excited and proud to name Mozzeria – a Deaf-owned Neapolitan pizzeria based in San Francisco – as the first-ever business partner of the CSD Social Venture Fund (CSD SVF). Mozzeria and CSD will use this partnership to model the success of the Mozzeria brand and restaurant and foster the opening of a series of franchise locations across the United States.
“I can think of no better investment for our first than Mozzeria,” said Christopher Soukup, the CEO of CSD. “[Mozzeria founders] Melody and Russ [Stein] are two of the most visible people who exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit that we know is already there in the Deaf community, just waiting to be revealed.”
Melody Stein is no stranger to the restaurant business, learning the ropes from her parents who owned restaurants in Hong Kong and San Francisco. Melody and her husband, Russ, met at Gallaudet University, where they bonded over a common love of food. They soon moved to San Francisco, when Russ, who is a native New Yorker, realized how much he missed the Italian restaurants and pizzerias of his hometown, which provided the drive to for them to create Mozzeria. “It was always our dream to open a restaurant,” said Melody.
Mozzeria shares with CSD the same commitment to prosperity among Deaf people everywhere. Mozzeria has an all Deaf staff and nearly everything in the restaurant is designed or built by Deaf people, including all the artwork on the walls. Russ and Melody Stein, both of them former employees at CSD, said, “Mozzeria’s values and goals so completely line up with CSD’s, there was no question about setting up this partnership. I feel like we have just come full circle.”
Outside the Mission District San Francisco Restaurant. (Photo: Small Business Revolution)
The CSD SVF was created earlier in 2017 to address the employment crisis among Deaf Americans with the goal of supporting the development of Deaf-owned businesses. Soukup said that the best way to “combat the unacceptable and massive employment gap for Deaf Americans is to showcase the exceptional talents and successes of people who are Deaf.”
Mozzeria, through the support of the CSD fund and incubator program, will receive capital funding and resources, as well as develop training materials in ASL to support the growth of new franchise locations. Melody has her sights set on uplifting the community, “With CSD’s support we will now have the opportunity to significantly grow and expand our business and create more opportunities for Deaf individuals, workers and business owners alike.”
“Without question, Melody and Russ are an extraordinary success story and an inspiration to all of us.” said Soukup.
Any way you slice it, this is a milestone for the Deaf community.
For more information on the CSD Social Venture Fund please visit www.CSDSVF.com.
To learn more about Mozzeria and the business, visit www.Mozzeria.com.
For inquiries about the Mozzeria franchise, please email email@example.com.
Access to education and information in American Sign Language (ASL) is crucial for the Deaf community’s success. CSD Learns recently received a valuable grant from Wells Fargo to support the creation of classes on financial education — presented in ASL. Launching in January, topics will include dealing with debt and starting to invest. Each course is self-paced, and works to provide each student basic financial education.
“Wells Fargo strongly believes that people with disabilities should have the same opportunities to improve their financial health and well-being as anyone else,” said Kathy Martinez, head of disability and accessibility strategy at Wells Fargo. “We are proud to collaborate with CSD Learns to make our Hands on Banking program accessible to this community and help them succeed financially.”
Program Manager Joseph Santini on location filming with Wells Fargo.
Start Learning in ASL Today
To find out when the financial classes open, sign up for the CSD Learns email list here. If you’re ready to start learning today, it’s easy to sign up!
You can learn from classes such as:
Banking Basics – Take a deep dive into banking fundamentals.
Privilege and Intersectionality – Learn about these concepts to better engage in online conversations and real-life situations.
Just go to CSD Learns and subscribe.
Want to know more? Watch this video for CSD Learns.
This commercial was created with #DeafTalent.
What life is like for the deaf and hard of hearing (HOH) has changed significantly in the past half century. Policy changes and new technologies have provided solutions for many, and yet some hurdles have stayed the same.
U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and CSD are proud to announce a strategic alliance to increase the employment rate for deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind individuals.
The CSD Student Development Center (SDC), located at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute of the Deaf in Rochester, New York, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary on April 27. “The CSD SDC was developed for students to feel connected and to learn things beyond the classroom,” said CSD Chief Executive Officer Chris Soukup. “It quickly became a hub for campus activity, bringing people together to advance dialogues and partnerships, and serving as a community center, which was our ultimate goal.”
The CSD SDC houses NTID’s student government, student life, multicultural organizations, a study center, a communication center, commuter lockers, and informal spaces, all designed to facilitate socialization and interaction. It also features artwork by Deaf and hearing artists with ties to NTID, and Ellie’s Place, a first-floor lounge named after the late NTID Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs Eleanor Rosenfield.
“Over these past 10 years, the CSD SDC has become the heart of campus life at RIT/NTID,” said Gerard Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “The facility provides space for leadership opportunities that are essential for our students’ success. We are grateful to CSD for their visionary generosity, and look forward to future collaborations.”
Part of the 10-year celebration is the launch of a partnership between CSD Creative and RIT/NTID’s Center on Access Technology at the SDC. “Given such a successful collaboration, it seemed only natural that we establish a partnership with RIT/NTID’s Center on Access Technology in the CSD SDC, especially with RIT/NTID’s outstanding graphic design, technology, multi-media and visual communications programs,” Soukup added. “This partnership is a great way to combine resources and hands-on experience alongside some of the best Deaf talent in the field, many who are RIT/NTID graduates.”
CSD Creative, led by CSD Creative’s Bryce Chapman and RIT/NTID’s Center on Access Technology Director Gary Behm, provides students with real-life learning experiences in web design and development, graphic design, digital advertising, brand development, photography, videography, and content marketing. “We all have a responsibility to support students, including through mentorship and work experiences, to prepare them for their careers after graduation,” Soukup noted. “With such a solid team of Deaf talent in graphic and web design, photography, and videography, CSD Creative’s new collaboration is a great opportunity for RIT/NTID students to gain valuable co-op experience, and sharpen their professional skills.”
“We want students to see CSD Creative as a resource throughout their academic studies, and to consider CSD as a potential career choice,” Soukup added. “It’s a win-win situation for all involved.”
For more information, contact Gary Behm (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit www.ntid.rit.edu/cat.
By Jessica Ellison
Danny Lacey is a partner and advisor for Kramer Wealth Managers. He leads Kramer’s advisory team for the western states where he serves pre-retirees and retirees, corporate executives, business owners, and not-for-profit organizations.
Danny has served on the board for 3 years and we’re excited to have him serve as Board Chair. We had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Danny before the holidays. Keep reading to get to know him a little better!
CSD: What are the most important goals you will work on with CSD?
Danny Lacey: I want to be a strong and effective facilitator between CSD & its board members. I plan to ensure that our board duties, expectations and efforts are fully aligned with CSD’s vision and mission. I also think it’s very important to promote dialogue with people outside of CSD so that we can share stories about the wider Deaf community with the world, to share the wide range of possibilities in the journey of reimagining communication together.
CSD: What do you see as Deaf America’s greatest strengths and challenges?
Danny Lacey: This is truly an exciting time for Deaf America. Thanks to advancements in technology, particularly social media, we continue to enjoy learning about success stories in the Deaf community every day. We believe that we are exceptional in all that we do. Our biggest challenge right now is not showing it enough in the global society.
CSD: CSD believes that instead of separate hearing and Deaf worlds that there really is just One World – and we all share it. What is your vision of One World? How do you see us getting there?
Danny Lacey: For over 40 years, CSD’s mission has been to improve the lives of deaf and hard of hearing people by continuously aiming to build a more inclusive, accessible world. Now, more than ever, it is the perfect time for CSD to be at the forefront of pursuing the One World vision, and in demonstrating all that is truly possible in the One World.
CSD: What kind of food will we find on your table this holiday season?
Danny Lacey: Along with great conversations and much laughter at the dinner table, my family loves sharing Pecan & Chocolate Chip Pie — just a perfect way to celebrate our holiday season!