CSD Names Jessica Kennedy President of the New Health Division


CSD Names Jessica Kennedy President of the New Health Division.

September is Deaf Awareness Month, which makes it a perfect time to announce that Jessica Kennedy has been named the new President of CSD’s patient and health advocacy division, DeafHealth.  

The current healthcare system is full of barriers that deaf communities face daily. American Sign Language (ASL) users are at a higher risk for poor health knowledge. They are not offered the same medical and behavioral care access because of cultural and language barriers. For example, miscommunication when using an interpreter can result in more than simple frustration– it jeopardizes our health and primary care. That’s why deaf communities often have more health issues and are usually not included in health outreach programs and important public health announcements through the media. 

Michael McLaurin

Because of this, CSD is prioritizing healthcare as a top priority for advocacy and change. The new CSD health division will be the home of all our health care programs, focusing on supporting equal healthcare access for Deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled, hard-of-hearing, and late-deafened people. 

“We believe Jessica is the perfect person to lead our work to achieve truly accessible and equitable healthcare experiences and outcomes for our community,” said Chris Soukup, CEO of CSD. “This division will confront the challenges within the healthcare system head-on and advocate for real and lasting change.” 

Our community can be unfamiliar to most medical and mental healthcare providers. A lack of cultural knowledge and direct ASL communication options often results in higher rates of inaccurate evaluations, misdiagnoses, and inappropriate treatments. 

These problems are the reason Kennedy envisions the health division advocating for equal and accessible health reform efforts, promoting new ideas to strengthen health care for deaf communities, bridging access in federal and state public health emergencies, and working towards culturally responsive medical providers for our communities. 

“Healthcare access is critical,” Kennedy signed in ASL. “Good health is a human need that binds all humanity together. When it is not accessible, or groups get left behind, that separates us as a global community. We must and will do better.” 

See the full press release here. 

About Jessica Kennedy 
Jessica Kennedy is an attorney and disability rights advocate. As the Vice President of Legal and Compliance for Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc. (CSD), Ms. Kennedy proudly served as part of a team dedicated to empowering people with disabilities. Previously, she was the Deputy General Counsel and Policy Director at MNsure, contributing to the implementation and overhaul of Minnesota’s health insurance exchange and the dynamic policy landscape that followed. Prior to MNsure, Ms. Kennedy served as an in-house attorney for the Minnesota Department of Human Services, advising on healthcare and privacy issues. She received her B.A in political science from the University of Minnesota and her J.D. from Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul. Ms. Kennedy currently serves as a board member of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Bar Association and MNsure, as a board member representing consumers eligible for public health care program coverage. 


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