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Past Speakers

Sasha, a brown Indian woman, has brown eyes and medium length dark brown hair with bangs. She is wearing rose-gold saree with traditional Indian necklaces and a bindi. Sasha is smiling in front of a blurred olive green and white backdrop.
2017 - Sasha Lakshmi Ponappa

Sasha Lakshmi Ponappa has been an advocate for more than a decade to eradicate violence within Deaf communities in Rochester, New York, Oakland, California, and Washington, D.C. She is the director for the Program for Deaf Adults at LaGuardia Community College, where she supports deaf, hard-of-hearing and deafblind students in furthering their educational goals, and making their collegiate experience inclusive and accessible. Ponappa received her bachelor's degree in social work from Rochester Institute of Technology and her master’s degree in social work from Gallaudet University, and lives in New York City with her husband, two children and a fur-baby, and is a proud member of the beautiful and vibrant Deaf culture. 

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2016 - Thomas Otto-Bruc

Thomas Otto-Bruc - Owner, Route 66 Promotions

Thomas Otto-Bruc is the owner and founder of Route 66 Promotions, a company that specializes in screen printing, embroidery, promotional services and design services. Mr. Otto-Bruc earned an associate’s degree in business technology from RIT/NTID in 2004. After graduating from RIT, he became a real estate broker for Rent Manhattan in New York City, New York and later became owner of a QuickDrop Ebay Store in Tampa, Florida. He currently serves as a partner and board member of Convo Relay Service and a board member of Deaf, Inc. Mr. Otto-Bruc and his family reside in St. Louis, Missouri.

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Photo of Pamela Siebert
2016 - Pamela Siebert

Pamela Siebert - Software Engineer,  IBM

Pamela was born to Deaf parents and raised in Saint Paul, MN. She graduated from RIT in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in information technology. She accepted a job at IBM in Lenexa, Kansas as a software engineer. In 2009, Pamela earned her master’s degree in software development and management from RIT. She is passionate about volunteering for the Kansas Association for the Deaf Board and was Miss Deaf Kansas from 2005-2007.

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Photo of Andreas Wezel-Peterson
2015 - Andreas Wezel-Peterson

Andreas Wezel-Peterson – Communications Designer, Disney Consumer Products

Andreas Wezel-Peterson was born and raised in Germany and is presently living in Los Angeles. He is a Communications Designer on the Internal Corporate Communications team at Disney Consumer Products, a segment of The Walt Disney Company, in Glendale, California. Andreas leads all the design communiqués, from logo to brand, from print to digital, and from magazine to email newsletter for over 3,000 employees (including executives) as well as consumers across North America, keeping a multi-disciplinary approach to all of his projects. He earned a bachelor's degree from RIT'S College of Imaging Arts and Sciences and is currently pursuing a master's degree in Graphic Design at Savannah College of Arts Design.

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Photo of Steven Forney
2015 - Steven Forney

Steven Forney – SMAP Research Associate

Steven Forney of Huntsville, Alabama is currently working for Systems Management and Production Center (SMAP) as Research Associate. SMAP is one of largest research departments at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).  He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). For the last ten years, his experiences with reverse engineering, internships at the UAH, gain of education and knowledge at RIT provided him the opportunities to work in the area of technology innovation; 3D printing and multi-rotors drone technology. He is currently pursuing Master's Degree in Human-Computer Interaction at the RIT for online graduate program.

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Photo of Kimberly Dodge   Photo of Jennifer Miller
2014 - Dr. Kimberly Dodge, DVM and Dr. Jennifer Miller, DVM ( RIT’ 06)

Kimberly Dodge, DVM
Dr. Dodge provides emergency Veterinarian services at the Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Service clinic located in Rochester, NY. She is a graduate of Michigan State University, Dr. Dodge received her B.S. Degree in Zoology in 1995 and her DVM Degree in 1999. Dr. Dodge is co-founder and former board member of the Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Loss. She also works to mentor young deaf individuals who are interested in health care related careers.

Jennifer Miller, DVM
Dr. Miller is a small animal Veterinarian at Walworth Animal Hospital located near her hometown of Macedon NY. She grew up in a mainstream school system and went to RIT for her Bachelors degree in biology, an was an RA in EPB for 3 years. Dr. Miller played soccer for RIT and has a gold medal from deaf olympics (Australia 2005). She then went on to Michigan State for her degree in Veterinary Medicine in 2010. Outside of work, Dr. Miller enjoys life on her farm with her husband and 3 small children and various pets.

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Photo of Jarrod Musano
2014 - Jarrod Musano

Jarrod Musano, CEO of Convo Relay and Infini, attended Rochester Institute of Technology and went on to University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. His education and daily challenges have led him to a number of successful start-ups, being responsible for driving and implementing strategic plans for all his companies.

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Photo of Michael Bloomfield
2013 - Mr. Michael Bloomfield, Database Developer at BlackRock

Michael Bloomfield (Deaf) was born and raised in Waterford, Michigan. He currently lives outside of Seattle, WA with his wife, Nancy (Deaf), who graduated from NTID in 1994 and together, they have four children (all hearing).

As a sophomore at University of Michigan, he got his first summer internship at Aetna Life & Casualty in Hartford, CT, implementing better workflow processes for the payroll department by reducing the number of steps from 112 to 36. More importantly, he hired Doreen Simons-Marquis to teach him American Sign Language during the summer.

In 1988 and 1989, he played Tenor Saxophone for the Michigan Marching Band and performed twice in the Rose Bowl. After transferring to Rochester Institute of Technology, he joined the Mu Zeta chapter of the Sigma Nu Fraternity and was the second President of the chapter. For three years, he performed with the RIT/NTID Dance Company. He graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science, and moved to the Seattle area to work at Microsoft for 6 years. He has also worked for the Wizards of the Coast, Eporia, Sogeti, EDS, and Virtuoso.

For the past 5 years, he has worked as a Database Developer at BlackRock designing and developing BlackRock’s internal client relationship management system. BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager with $3.9 trillion of assets under management and 72 offices around the world.

Every year, he and his wife volunteer at a Christian camp for Deaf children and CODAs in Oregon that recently celebrated its 40th year.

As one of the founders of ButterflyHands.com, he leveraged the power of the internet, to allow anyone to request a Sign Language Interpreter at any time. ButterflyHands.com includes the ability to request an interpreter with online scheduling and secured payment processing. Interpreters are using ButterflyHands.com to manage their schedule with email notifications and submit invoices for services rendered.

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Photo of Rosa Lee Timm
2013 - Rosa Lee Timm

Rosa Lee is a Deaf performing artists and a managing editor of KISSFIST Magazine, star of the Rosa Lee Show, and actress in ASL FILMS' "Versa Effect" and many other works.

 

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Photo of Matt Daigle
2012 - Mr. Matt Daigle, Deaf Professional Cartoonist

Matt Daigle is a deaf professional cartoonist with over 11 years of experience. He is the creator of a single panel cartoon series called "In Deaf Culture..." and "Deaf Reel", and as well as the popular webcomic "That Deaf Guy" which he collaborates with his hearing wife, Kay and boasts over 13,000 fans and an impressive international audience. Daigle has published two humor books, "Adventures in Deaf Culture" and "Extreme Interpreting". His new book "That Deaf Guy: A Family Portrait" is currently in production.

Matt lives in Burbank, California with his wife and son.

You can view his cartoons at:
- www.thatdeafguy.com
- www.facebook.com/thatdeafguycomic
- www.mdaigletoons.com.

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