When we developed the theme for the 2018 TSID Conference, we knew that we would be seeking facilitators who could guide us in exploring worldviews and experiences that might be far different from our own. We also knew that we needed to find commonality in order to form truly cohesive connections between colleagues, consumers, and future interpreters. And, we knew this had to start with conversations and practice in a structured setting.
The 2018 TSID Conference planning committee is excited to introduce the following Facilitators who will support us in beginning those conversations and applying new concepts to our work by generously sharing their knowledge, skills and expertise. We have selected individuals we knew would create a lasting impact on the DDDBDHH and interpreting communities.
Vijay Advani:[Image description: Image of an Indian male turned slightly to his right with his face turned and smiling toward the camera. He has dark hair and moustache, and wears a dark grey pinstripe suit with a light blue button down shirt and a striped tie.]
For over 20 years, Vijay Advani has been an educator, a Deaf community advocate, mentor, leader, and a presenter around the world. He earned a Master’s degree in Deaf Education from McDaniel College, MD and BA in Education from Gallaudet University. He has taught at a daycare center, preschool, in K-12 settings, and bicoastal colleges. Since 2011 he has been teaching various levels of ASL courses at Collin College in Plano, TX. He supports diversity within the community and fosters people with different educational backgrounds to enable them to acquisition to the realities of the American lifestyle. He is grateful for his beautiful wife, Veena and his lovely three CODAs who believe in his passion to provide information to the public. He is proud of his Indian tradition and its values; he has found adapting to the American lifestyle has its joys and challenges. Participants are welcome to visit his Collin College ASL Club on FaceBook which he continues to manage daily. (Co-Facilitator: Deb Martinez)
Melissa Bell[Image description: Image of a white woman with short, brown, curly hair, wearing a blue blouse, smiling at the camera. Her body is turned slightly to the left while she stands in front of a brown stone wall.]
Melissa is a certified interpreter with 10 years experience as a resource specialist before moving to Austin to lead the Resource Specialist program with HHSC. She earned a Bachelor of Art degree in Sociology from University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and then graduated from the interpreter training program at Collin College. Melissa has previously shared her knowledge and experience by presentinat TSID, Statewide Education for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing, ADARA National Conference, AHEAD in Texas, Texas Rehab Action Network, East Texas Transition Conference and DARS DRS D/HH Trainings. (Co-Facilitator: Amanda Tuite)
Debbye Byrne[Image Description: image of a Deaf white female-presenting person with a bright green head covering on stands against a solid light colored background. The image captures chest and above of the person who is mid-sign and looking towards to the right of the frame. The person’s facial expression indicates that they are in deep thought. The person is wearing a black long sleeved shirt with the sleeves rolled up midway on their arms.]
Debbye brings a rich background of leadership and advocacy in academia and the community at large. Debbye has years of experience in supporting youth and young adults throughout their college experience at National Technical Institute for the Deaf and Lexington School for the Deaf. Debbye’s passion for human rights has impacted individuals worldwide and led to numerous awards and recognitions. Since August 2014, Debbye served as volunteer advocate and community organizer with Deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled, and Hard of Hearing incarcerated individuals and Returned Individuals through HEARD (Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of Deaf Communities); while there, organizing numerous conferences with hundreds of attendees and responding to correspondence from the nation’s first Deaf Prison Hotline. HEARD is a volunteer-dependent organization that works to correct and prevent deaf wrongful convictions, end abuse of DDBDDHH people, decrease recidivism of Deaf Returned Individuals, and increase representations of DDBDDHH people in professions that can combat mass incarceration. (Co-Facilitator: Talila “TL” Lewis)
Roberto Cabrera[Image description: Image of a Latinx male wearing a blue buttoned down collared shirt. The image is zoomed in to his head and shoulders. He is standing in front of a body of water smiling directly at the camera.]
Roberto’s educational background includes business, human services, and family and marriage counseling which has provided him a solid background for his roles in leadership, psychotherapeutic care, and ASL instruction.He has ten (10) years of experience in teaching/education and in facilitated discussions/counseling.This passion led to co-founding Deaf Eye and Mind, to create an avenue for sharing his skills and knowledge with others. He also currently works as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor in Los Angeles, California. (Co-Facilitator: Yashaira Romilus)
Amber D. Farrelly[Image description: Image of a white woman with dark hair pulled back away from her face. She is smiling at the camera with her head tilted slightly to her right. She is wearing a dark, V-neck top with clear stud earrings and is standing in a room with a shiny taupe curtain and dark walls in front of an entertainment center topped by a television and candelabra in the background.]
Amber received her undergraduate degree from the University of Oklahoma at Norman and her Juris Doctorate degree from Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law with the highest distinction for her pro bono work. Amber began her legal career clerking for both defense teams in the Yogurt Shop Murders shortly after their reversals in 2007 until both cases were dismissed in 2009. She began practicing as a criminal defense attorney in 2009, and has worked with the Innocence Project of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project. She joined The Fowler Law Firm in 2011 specializing in criminal defense. In 2018, she became independent after being a partner with Baird Farrelly Criminal Defense, PLLC since 2012. Amber is licensed in and practices throughout the state of Texas. Amber specializes in representing Deaf clientele and is a court-certified interpreter in American Sign Language (ASL). Working with the Conviction Integrity Unit in Dallas County, she testified as an expert witness on ASL and Deaf culture in the Stephen Brodie exoneration case—the only Deaf person exonerated in the United States. She has consulted on numerous cases involving Deaf individuals as an expert.
Amber is the former president of the Texas School for the Deaf Foundation Board and a director for the DeafBlind Service Center of Austin. She is dedicated to and an advocate for the Deaf. Amber received the Texas Society of Interpreters for the Deaf President’s Award in 2016. She was named Travis County Woman Lawyer of the Year for 2012. She has published articles regarding Deaf in the justice system and is a well documented presenter for legal interpreting and Deaf rights. She has also been a guest on 48 Hours, America’s Most Wanted, Intersections Radio, and Legal Broadcast Network. (Co-Facilitator: Trevor Patten)
Dr. Carla García-Fernández[Image Description: Dr. Carla García-Fernández, a light-skinned Chicana posing for the camera with crossed arms and a smile. She is wearing blue dress traditional to her culture with red and white embroidered flowers. Her dark, long hair is braided and pull over her left shoulder.]
Dr. Carla Garcia-Fernandez was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico and grew up embracing her identity as a Deaf person. It was later in life that she found herself ill-equipped to face discrimination and bias resulting from the intersecting identities she had not even fully explored herself. Her personal journey and healing led to her research interests of racial and cultural identities, social justice in education, critical race studies, and multilingual/multicultural education. She holds a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin, a master’s degree from the University of Arizona and a bachelor’s degree from Gallaudet. Dr. Garcia-Fernandez has spoken about multicultural education as a keynote speaker at several venues and encourages all to embrace multiple overlapping identities as opposed to singular identity.
Bethany Gehman[Image description: Black and white image of a grinning white female with her curly hair pulled back wearing a black shirt and light colored long-sleeved sweater. Bethany is standing outside of a building and trees that are out of focus. Her arms are crossed while her body is turned to the right and she is looking directly at the camera.]
Bethany Gehman, a sexuality educator, has more than five years of experience in providing sexual health education and professional training, and she is currently advocating for safe and affirming space in various settings for everyone regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression. Bethany provides sexuality education for people of all ages, conducts professional training, and promotes inclusive and comprehensive sexual health education in Deaf K-12 residential programs. She strives to connect with the community through her videos and interactions through her workshops / training. She recognizes that advocacy and education cannot happen without genuine connections.
Her current work focuses on examining the current climate of Deaf residential schools in the United States and providing resources to promote an inclusive environment for LGBTQ students and staff. (Co-Facilitator: Steven Nugent)
Paige Johnson[Image Description: Image of a white, brown-haired woman. She is looking straight into the camera smiling while sitting in front of a dark blue background. Her hair is slightly longer than shoulder-length and the top-front part of her hair is pinned back on both sides.]
Paige is proudly Deaf and comes from a Deaf family. Growing up, she attended public school in both mainstream and charter school settings in the DFW area, then graduated from the Texas School for the Deaf. She went on to Gallaudet University where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, Paige worked two (2) years as a teacher assistant with the elementary department. After receiving her Master’s degree from the University of Texas in Austin , Paige decided to pursue her PHD in School Psychology there and is now completing her 4th year. She works as part of the research team with NDC – the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes. She also currently works as a teacher assistant for graduate level research methods at the University of Northern Colorado. Paige is now participating in practicum at the People’s Community Clinic as behavioral health consultant. She will soon be moving to the Neurobehavioral Institute of Austin where she will conduct assessments regarding trauma risk in the deaf population and research parent-child relationship relating to hearing parents with deaf children. She is passionate about assessments regarding the education, health, and family relationships of the Deaf. (Co Facilitator: Claire Ryan)
Justin Lee[Image description: Image of a white male wearing a blue shirt and black-framed glasses smiles at the camera. He is positioned in front of a light blue background that has a dark blue wavy pattern on it.]
Justin is a professional interpreter who currently holds the BEI Master Certification and the RID/NAD National Interpreter Certification. He has been interpreting since 2004 and has been involved in the Deaf community since 1996. His professional experience includes community work, VRS, religious settings, and education. He currently works as a Professional Development Project Manager and Interpreter for Crabtree Interpreting Services. Justin is especially intrigued by the field of sociolinguistics and works to share that knowledge with others through mentoring and professional development. (Co-Facilitator: Alicia McClurkan)
Talila “TL” Lewis[Image Description: Image of a young genderfluid black person of African descent wearing a bright blue collared shirt while seated at a desk in a hallway with their hands folded under their chin and elbows leaning against the table top. There are lights, windows, & doors in the background–a long corridor. ]
For over a decade, Talila has been entrenched in anti-violence, decarceration & prison abolition work that highlights and addresses the nexus between race, class, disability and structural inequity–focusing in particular, on people with multiple marginalized identities. As one of the only people in the world working on deaf wrongful conviction cases, Talila regularly presents at universities; testifies before legislative & regulatory bodies; and trains members of congress, attorneys, and law enforcement about this and other disability-related topics. As the creator of the only national deaf prisoner database, Talila advocates with & for hundreds of deaf defendants and incarcerated & returned individuals.
Talila co-founded & serves as the volunteer director of Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of Deaf communities (HEARD), an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that works to correct & prevent deaf wrongful convictions; end abuse of incarcerated people with disabilities; decrease recidivism for deaf and returning individuals; and increase representation of deaf people in professions that can combat mass incarceration. Talila also serves as a consultant on education and workplace inclusion; an expert on cases involving deaf/disabled people; and previously served as the Givelber Public Interest Lecturer at Northeastern University School of Law and as a visiting professor at Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute for the Deaf. (Co-Facilitator: Debbye Byrne)
Trevor Patten[Image description: Image of a white male with salt and pepper hair and light scruff is wearing a dark button down shirt leaning back to his left smiling at the camera. The background is completely black.]
Trevor is a graduate of Gallaudet University and is an experienced filmmaker from Austin, TX. He has a variety of work experience and is an avid traveler who enjoys an adventurous lifestyle! Working as Deaf Interpreter with an expertise in supporting linguistic access to consumers facing gender and language bias, he has honed his critical analysis skills in ethical decision making. His work with interpreters has supported them in improving their ability to examine their own work through the lens of Deaf individuals, drawing from his personal experiences where interpreters have failed to do so. Ongoing partnerships with hearing interpreters and attorneys in legal settings have inspired him to educate those who work with his community encouraging them to be open to new approaches and perspectives in our practice.
(Co-Facilitator: Amber D. Farrelly)
Deb Martinez[Image description: Image of a white female with red shoulder length hair and bangs smiling cheerfully into the camera. She is dressed in black and is seated in front of a large leafed green plant.]
Deb Martinez has been interpreting since 1994. She has an AS in Interpreting, a BS in Human Services, and an MA in Public Administration. She is certified by RID- CI/CT, NIC Advanced, and SC:L, and BEI-Master and Court. Additionally she holds a specialty certificate in legal/court interpreting, from the University of Northern Colorado, and a specialty certificate in healthcare interpreting from RIT/NTID. She believes strongly in giving back to the community having served on boards and committees locally, statewide, and nationally for over 20 years. She strongly believes in the use of Deaf Interpreters (DIs) in the field and works in many different aspects to include novice and advanced DIs into the field and our work as interpreters. She has taught/presented on topics such as use of space, the interpreting process, ethics, and decision making. Deb loves to talk about the work and looks forward to continued conversations on the future of ASL-English interpreting. (Co-Facilitator: Vijay Advani)
Alicia McClurkan[Image description: Image of a white female wearing black a long-sleeved top and small silver necklace. She is standing in a field with tall sunflowers behind her as she smiles at the camera.]
Born into a native Deaf family from Irving, Texas, Alicia McClurkan is the oldest of three sisters, all currently living in Austin. In May 2015, Alicia graduated from the Interpreter Training Program at Austin Community College. She is the proud mother of two sons. Alicia is passionate about her mission to promote cooperation and alliance between CDIs/DIs and CHIs, as well as educate interpreting agencies about the importance of hiring CDIs and DIs along with CHIs. Her passion has been exhibited in the numerous workshops and trainings she has led or co-facilitated. Recently certified as CDI, Alicia is committed to promoting the use of CDIs as gatekeepers in the field of interpreting. (Co-Facilitator: Justin Lee)
Steven Nugent[Image description: Image of a white male from the shoulders up turned slightly to his left. He has dark, spiked hair and a neatly trimmed beard and mustache. He is looking into the camera with a serious expression and a slight smile. He is wearing a dark blue pullover shirt with no collar. The background is a cream colored painted wall.]
Steven is professional interpreter who holds BEI Master and NIC certification. He has contributed to the Deaf and interpreting communities in Austin, TX for the last ten (10) years. He draws from his freelance experience in a wide range of settings, including sexuality, education, business, performance/theater, VRS, medical, quasi-legal, mental health, etc. to inform his work in the field of sexuality and its impact on our work as interpreters. (Co-Facilitator: Bethany Gehman)
Benro Ogunyipe[Image Description: Image of a Black male with short cropped hair in a black suit and gray buttoned down shirt with white tee. He is looking at the camera with. Serious expression.]
Benro is a Licensed Deaf Interpreter who also works full time as an Accessibility Specialist for the state of Illinois, Department of Human Services in Chicago. He is a published author and frequent presenter on the topic of employment rights and responsibilities of deaf and hard of hearing individuals under the provisions of Title I of the ADA.
Benro has also served as President of the National Black Deaf Advocates, Inc. from 2011 to 2013 and as Vice President and Board Chairman from 2007 to 2011. He is a current member of the National Council on Disability and the Employment & Economic Opportunity for Persons with Disabilities Task Force. He is recognized as a leader of national and local policy impact. (Co-Facilitator: Crystal Kelley Schwartz)
Mark Ramirez[Image description: Image of a lightskin Chicano with short dark brown hair, brown eyes, groomed facial hair, smiling at the camera, and wearing a light grey polo shirt. Dark grey solid background.]
Mark began teaching the principles of Social Justice and Intersectionality around the US to social workers, educators, Deaf community leaders, and interpreters in 2012. With a Bachelors of Arts in Communications, his observations and interest led him to seek additional training that would create positive change for the DDDBDHH community. While working with the New Mexico School for the Deaf as a Deaf mentor and Early Development Specialist, Mark was able to travel to provide trainings and work on his Masters of Social Work degree at Gallaudet University. Mark wishes to share his knowledge with interpreters to be part of real change.
Yashaira Romilus[Image description: Image of a Latinx female with long, wavy dark hair smiling at the camera. She is wearing dark plastic rectangular glasses and a dark shirt with gold hoop earrings. She is standing in front of a brown stone wall.]
“Yash” brings to this training a wealth of knowledge and experience from her personal life and her work and research at Gallaudet University, followed by specialized training and instruction of PTASL. She is currently working towards a degree in Social Work and is also minoring in Spanish. She has worked as a PTASL instructor on both the east and west coasts and currently serves on the DBCC/DB Retreat Team Staff. Her work in various leadership and mentorship roles has allowed her to share her many accomplishments with others through education and connection to resources. In addition, her work in theatre is a testament to her creativity and drive. (Co-Facilitator: Roberto Cabrera)
Claire Ryan[Image Description: Image of a white, blonde haired female smiling in front of a gray background. Her body is slightly turned to the left while she looks straight into the camera. She is wearing a purple sweater over a black camisole.]
Claire is Deaf and was born and raised in Chicago, IL, so she is a huge Blackhawks fan! She is a proud alum from RIT where she participated in a number of psychology/ behavioral health projects focused on individual’s health literacy, health communication, health behavior and accessibility. She is a published author and researcher, who has contributed to several peer-reviewed journals, and has worked nationally and internationally as a presenter and guest lecturer.
Claire is in her second year as a PHD student at the University of Texas in Austin. She is currently conducting research as a graduate research assistant for NDC – the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes. Here, she remains involved in a number of additional projects relating to deaf community resources, expectations, efficacy and access for deaf students. As part of her educational practicum, she also works at a charter school as a school psychologist performing evaluations/assessments for special education placement and services in addition to individual and group counseling for students. This fall she will move into her advanced practicum placement at the Eating Recovery Center to provide evidence based treatment for persons suffering from a variety of eating disorders. (Co-Facilitator: Paige Johnson)
Crystal Kelley-Schwartz[Image description: Headshot of a brown female wearing black shirt with golden brown scarf, glasses and has her wavy curls down past her shoulders. She is smiling.]
Crystal Schwartz is a mentor, educator and ASL consultant residing in Texas. She has been active at the legislative level fighting for educational and communication access rights for all members of the DDDBDHH community. Throughout 20+ years of her career, Crystal has traveled across the nation and worked with various organizations, hospitals, schools and corporations that serve the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. She has supported various advocacy organizations in refining their business mission and goals. Crystal also works as a Deaf mentor to children with hearing loss. She founded and directed the Deaf Youth Center in Naperville, Illinois before moving to Fort Worth, Texas with her husband and their four (4) D/HH children. Crystal holds several credentials in counseling and risk management. (Co-Facilitator: Benro Ogunyipe)
Ethan Stephens[Image Description: Image of a white man wearing a sweater with a grey-scaled checker pattern down the front and black long-sleeves. His body is turned slightly to the left while he stands in front of a red brick wall and arms at his sides.]
Ethan is a Certified Interpreter with experience working in various levels of academia, medical, social services and professional settings. Ethan attended Austin Community College for interpreter training after graduating from University of North Texas with a Bachelor of Arts in English Language Arts. The training and experience Ethan has received through working as a certified interpreter and attending past RID and TSID conferences, as well as, numerous other trainings, has ignited the desire to educate others. (Co-Facilitator: Kyle Stephens)
Kyle Stephens[Image Description: Image of a white man wearing a black long-sleeved shirt while standing in front of a red brick wall with his body turned slightly to the left and arms at his sides.]
Kyle is a Deaf, native user of American Sign Language who has worked as a mentor and trainer for students, colleagues and peers. Having received training from Austin Community College, the BIG XII LGBTQIA and Allies Summit, previous TSID and RID conferences, plus many more, Kyle is ready to broaden his impact on the DDDBDHH and interpreting communities through teaching. Also, as a current resident of Lubbock, TX, Kyle serves as a member of the Caprock Society of Interpreters for the Deaf Board. (Co-Facilitator: Ethan Stephens)
Amanda Tuite[Image description: Image of a white woman with medium length brown hair is smiling at the camera. She is sitting in front of a neutral charcoal background. She is wearing a black blazer over a white blouse, her ears are decorated with pearl earrings.]
Amanda works as a Communication Access Specialist II with the Health and Human Services Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services in Austin, Texas. She assists with program goals and objectives; developing program guidelines, procedures, and policies; develops schedules and priorities; evaluates program activities; and provides consultative and technical services and training to agency program staff and other governmental agencies, both public and private. She is also a contract service provider for consumers and the general public. Amanda has utilized her personal and professional experience as a Deaf woman in positions of leadership and advocacy with adults and youth for the past 10 years. In addition to her work as a Deafness Resource/Communication Access Specialist and has been active in several professional organizations, including the prestigious Miss Deaf Texas organization. (Co-Facilitator: Melissa Bell)