TSID 2005 Conference Presenters Bio

Larry Barnett
Mr. Barnett is a native Austinite (grew up across the street from the Texas School for the Deaf). He is a charter member of RID, and its predecessor NPTID. He has interpreted professionally since June 5, 1960. Mr. Barnett is licensed to the Gospel Ministry August, 1963 and Ordained to the Ministry April, 1966. He served as Pastor, Missionary, Director, and Church Planner, for 30 years. He is a three time past-president of LRID, two-time Chairman of the Board of Trustees of SBCD and owner/President of Sign Language Services, Inc. Mr. Barnett has been a presenter in 38 states and 19 foreign countries and holds interpreter certification in Texas of Level IV.
Buddy Bauer
Mr. Bauer has been in the field of interpretation for 27 years. This experience includes staff positions in psychiatric legal, and educational services. He has taught interpreter training at the college level for 17 years including writing curriculum and designing degree plans. Mr. Bauer has 33 graduate hours of study in linguistics & ASL linguistics and interpretation theory from Gallaudet University and University of Texas, Austin; plus training in assessment of language use interpretation diagnostics. He has served as an evaluator for the Texas Commission for the Deaf--Board for the Evaluation of Interpreters and as Vice Chair for the BEI Advisory Board as well as a rater for the assessment of ASL competence through the Texas Assessment of Sign Communication.
Jimmy Beldon
Jimmy Beldon currently resides in Sioux Falls, SD. He is proud to be a third generation deaf family member. His children create the fourth generation of deaf family traditions. In his family, four out of five Beldons possess RID certification- his deaf mother, two hearing sisters, and himself. Mr. Beldon received his Masters degree in Deaf Education and ASL Specialist from Western Maryland College. Currently, Mr. Beldon is an interpreter trainer at Communication Services for the Deaf. Mr. Beldon has traveled to many different parts of United States giving workshops on various topics. He has been involved in the interpreting field and is current Vice President of RID.
Ari Asha Castilia
Ari-Asha Castalia, BS, CI/CT, is a native of Wisconsin who completed the UW-Milwaukee Interpreter Training Program and now lives and works in San Francisco, CA. In addition to free-lance interpreting in community, video relay and post-secondary settings, she currently coordinates interpreter services at two post-secondary institutions. Ari looks for opportunities to" raise the bar" whenever she can, and loves to mentor/coach interpreters of all skill levels. As an accomplished and dynamic presenter she has offered workshops on a variety of topics at the national, regional and local level. She is a stand-up comedian, and in her spare time she crochets, practices yoga and hangs out with her partner and their two adopted ["broken"] cats.
Doug and Leslie Dittfurth
Doug Dittfurth has worked in the services for who are deaf/hard of hearing arena for over 30 years in several capacities: Teacher, Rehabilitation Counselor, Interpreter, Interpreter Trainer, Mental Health/Substance Abuse Counselor, Rehabilitation Facility Administration and Consultant. Doug currently works with the Health and Human Services Commission's, Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, Division for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services in Austin as a Program Specialist. He provides oversight to the division's Regional Specialist Program. Mr. Dittfurth also serves as the division's Ombudsman/Customer Satisfaction Representative and provides liaison services to all other State agencies. He is a Board of Director for the American Foundation of Elderly Deaf which has as its main project a retirement center for the deaf in San Marcos. In 2002, Governor Perry appointed him to the State Independent Living Council as a Board Member. He holds interpreter certification from the Texas BEI as a III and CIC.
Leslie Dittfurth currently works as a Program Specialist with the Austin/Travis County Health Department in the Communicable Disease Unit. For the past 3 years she has worked primarily with clients who have HIV/AIDS and/or TB. She provides health education, information and referral to those who have a positive diagnosis. She provides prevention education, information and referral to their friends and family members. Previously she worked as a Paramedic with the City of Austin for 10 years.
Chris Grooms
Chris Grooms holds CI and CT from RID and has been interpreting for over 15 years. Chris has provided mentorship opportunities in the educational, medical and Deaf-Blind arenas throughout his career. He is currently the Professional Development Coordinator for Communication Axess Ability Group in Houston where he provides workshops, trainings and study groups for interpreters of all levels on a variety of subjects.
Steve Hamerdinger, M.A.
Steve Hamerdinger is the Director of the Office of Deaf Services at the Alabama Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. Before this he was the Director of the Office of Deaf and Linguistic Support Services at the Missouri Department of Mental Health, a position he held for more than 9 years. Mr. Hamerdinger has an M.A. in Counseling of the Deaf from Gallaudet University. He owns and operates a mental health consulting firm that provides consultation and training on mental health and deafness nationally. He has been an adjunct faculty member of several college programs and a visiting lecturer at the University of Missouri and the University of Kansas. He was the first Reba Hill Memorial Lecturer on Pediatrics at the Baylor University Medical School. In addition to his expertise in deafness and mental health, Steve is a well-know motivational speaker and entertainer.
Ray James
Raphael (Ray) James, M.S./M.Ed., IC/TC, TCDHH-IV/CIC, ASLTA, has been a faculty member at the University of Arkansas/Little Rock in the Interpreter Education Program since fall 1992. He received an MS/Ed in Rehabilitation Counseling with emphasis in Deafness from the University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) in 1995 and received a Bachelor of Theology from International Bible Seminary in Portsmouth, Florida, 1988. He achieved and maintains licenses with the Texas Board of Evaluation for Interpreters (BEI) under the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, Division for Deaf and Hard of Hearing since 1980, and national certification with the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. (RID) since 1987. Mr. James has been involved in deafness and interpretation for more than twenty-five years with the last fourteen years as a professional educator.
Mike Kemp
Dr. Kemp graduated from Gallaudet University with a BA in Sociology, from Western Maryland College with M. Ed. in Deaf Education, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University with a Ed. D. in Education Administration. He wrote his dissertation on the Sign Communication Proficiency Interview. Before coming to Gallaudet University, Dr. Kemp taught at the Lancaster County Day School for the Deaf under the auspices of the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf for five years. He is celebrating his 26th year at Gallaudet University. His area of expertise are as follows: Visual Gestural Communication, Sign Communication Proficiency Interview, and international consultations. He spent extended periods of time at the Ratchasuda College in Thailand and Viet Nam to teach deaf students on methods of teaching their respective sign languages. In addition, he has traveled to Middle East, Europe, Central America, and South America as well as to Japan to serve as an consultant/trainer in the field of sign language instruction.
He authored "Fundamentals of Evaluating Sign Language Programs: a checklist for program assessment", published by DawnSignPress. He is currently serving as a chair of two committees under American Sign Language Teachers Association: Consortium of Program Coordinators and International Sign Language Teachers Certification. He was recently elected to serve on Board of Trustees at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf.
Poorna Kushalnagar
Poorna is a Deaf doctoral student in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Clinical Neuropsychology at the University of Houston (UH), where she is actively pursuing research on cochlear implant and attention. She has worked with interpreters in a variety of clinical and academic settings. She is currently writing a chapter on socio-cognition issues affecting the partnership between deaf professionals and interpreters for a book.
Rita Lee
Rita Lee holds BEI Level IV and Court Interpreter Certification. Ms. Lee has nearly twenty years experience in interpreting for the Deaf. She is currently an evaluator for the Board of Evaluation for Interpreters under DARS -DHHS. She is widely known and respected in the Deaf and hard of hearing Community as a result of active participation in social, political and cultural Events in the community. Ms. Lee has provided workshops and mentorship Opportunities in various settings throughout her career. She is co-founder and partner of Communication Axess Ability Group, a full service interpreting agency in Houston.
Christina Mlynek
Christina Mlynek earned her Master of Social Work at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. She began her career working with persons who are blind in educational and vocational settings, prior to learning ASL. She later combined the skills and worked with individuals who were deaf blind, including deaf blind multiply disabled for several years. As a Social Worker, she has worked at numerous agencies serving people with disabilities for almost 25 years. Chris is certified at level III and currently works full time as a free lance interpreter in San Antonio. She remains involved in the deaf blind community as in interpreter, SSP, advocate, camp guide and is an active member of state and national organizations.
Geoffrey Poor
Geoffrey S. Poor is an Associate Professor and Coordinator of NTID's Office of Communication Assessment Services. He holds ASLTA Professional Level Certification and was a member of ASLTA's Executive Board for 8 years. Although he has no data to support the claim, he is convinced that many of life's most troublesome questions can best be addressed through the study of baseball.
Lynette Reep
Lynette Reep, BA, CI/CT, has been interpreting since 1985, both free-lance and in educational settings (pre-K through graduate school). She credits her current abilities as well as her emphasis on collegial support and collaboration to the extensive informal mentoring she received from more experienced interpreters and Deaf consumers in the 1980's when opportunities for formal professional development were scarcer. Lynette serves on Vermont RID's mentorship program committee and serves as a mentor in that program; over the years has informally supported and mentored numerous novice interpreters. Lynette has taught Discretion Workshops at both the local and the regional level. She lives with her partner and her cat in Burlington, Vermont.
Howard Rosenblum
Howard A. Rosenblum is currently a Senior Attorney at Equip for Equality, a nonprofit organization designated as Illinois' Protection and Advocacy entity, after nearly ten years in private practice. Mr. Rosenblum co-founded and is the Board Chairperson of the Midwest Center on Law and the Deaf, dedicated to ensuring equal access to the legal system for deaf and hard-of-hearing people. Mr. Rosenblum received his law degree from IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law (1992) and his Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Arizona (1988).
Gary Sanderson
Gary R. Sanderson is the Interim Director of the National Center on Deafness at California State University, Northridge. He served three terms as the President of the Southern California Chapter of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. He has served on the national level on the RID Board as the Region Five Representative. He has written articles, speaks nationally, and appeared in videos on Repetitive Motion Injuries and Educational Interpreting, and was instrumental in the establishment of the Special Interest Group in RID for Educational Interpreters (EdITOR) serving as its first chair. EdITOR awarded Gary its Outstanding Service to the Organization and to the Profession Award in 1991. He is the co-chair of the NAD-RID National Council on Interpreting. In 1999 he was awarded one of the first Judie Husted Awards for dedication and commitment to the field of sign language interpretation by RID. In 2004 he received the President's award from RID for service to the field.
Rachel Simpson
Rachel Simpson completed her Masters Degree in Vocational Rehabilitation with a Specialization in Deaf Blindness at the University of Texas. Although Rachel does not work as a professional interpreter, she is certified as a level I interpreter. Rachel has worked as a Deaf Blind Specialist for the Division for Blind Services for almost four years. In this position, she serves as an internal consultant to all agency programs and works with Deaf Blind people of all ages. She is one of three Deaf Blind Specialists for the Division for Blind Services. Rachel also worked for the same agency as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor in Austin for over six years. In that position, she worked with agency consumers who were blind and deaf blind to help them achieve their independent living and employment goals.
Wess Smith
Wess Smith is currently the Coordinator of the Sign Language and Assessment Services/Sign Communication Proficiency Interviews, at the Texas School for the Deaf. He also co-coordinates the Communication Skills Workshops for Educational Interpreters and the ASL Teacher's Workshop, the Sign Language Immersion Workshop for Deaf Education Teachers, serves as a statewide presenter for the Educational Resource Center on Deafness, and is a interviewer/rater for the Sign Communication Proficiency Interviews. Wess holds the Board for Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI) Level V Interpreter Certification and Court Interpreter Certification. He is a BEI Evaluator, past board member of the Texas Association of the Deaf and Blind, and has traveled nationally and internationally providing training in sign language, linguistics, interpreting and deaf-blind. Wess assisted in the establishment of a certification program for the Interpreters in the country of Ghana, Africa, at the request of the Ghanaian government. Wess served as an ambassador and assessor for NLT2 and SEELS, is a consultant with SBEC and TEA regarding the teacher certification program, and is the director of the Texas School for the Deaf Sign Choir.
Cathy Williams
Cathy Williams is currently the Coordinator of the Interpreting Services Department at the Texas School for the Deaf. Cathy also co-coordinates the Communication Skills Workshops for Educational Interpreters, and in the past co-coordinated the ASL Teacher's Workshop, and the Sign Language Immersion Workshop for Deaf Education Teachers. Cathy also serves as a statewide presenter for the Educational Resource Center on Deafness, is an interviewer/rater for the Sign Communication Proficiency Interviews, and is a consultant for the teacher certification program with the SBEC and TEA. Cathy holds the Board for Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI) Level V Interpreter Certification and Court Interpreter Certification. She is a BEI Evaluator, Chairperson for the Austin Community College Interpreter Preparation Program Advisory Board, and Vice President of the Board for Austin Sign Language School. In addition, Cathy was the past Chairperson of the BEI as well as past Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf-Texas Chair. At the request of the Ghanaian government, Cathy assisted in the establishment of a certification program for the Interpreters in the country of Ghana, Africa and has provided Interpreter and Sign Language training in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Albania