SayWhatClub

SayWhatClub Board of Directors

These members can be reached by email at: swcboard@saywhatclub.org


don dippner

President

I grew up in South Central Pennsylvania in Paradise, Pennsylvania in the heart of the PA Dutch County in the 1950’s.

When I was 18 months old I contracted a form of para-typhoid fever [most likely from improperly pasteurized milk] and I ended up in the hospital with a fever of 106 degrees  I recovered but the ordeal left me with a punctured left ear drum and a moderate hearing loss.

I got my degree online while working full-time and raising three children.  I graduated with a BA in Business Administration in October 2004 two weeks shy of my 50th birthday with a concentration in accounting and statistical analysis.

My hobbies include performing as a magician for children’s show.  I was a clown for a few years and made various balloon animals.  I also enjoy researching our genealogy [in Savannah we had a workshop on genealogy by our own Debbe Hagner].

Around 2000 I wondered if a hearing aid would help my left ear. I searched the Internet and found the SayWhatClub.  I joined Vistas at that time and that has been my home list ever since.  I asked a zillion questions about hearing aids, audiograms, ear molds, etc. and everyone was patient and willing to answer all my questions.

I also found a great group of people that I am proud to call my lifelong friends.  Vistans, as well call ourselves, would often get together on Saturday evenings in the SWC chat room and just enjoy each other’s company, have fun and share our life experiences.

My first hearing aid was a discontinued Siemen’s model I bought on Ebay in 2001 just to see if it would help me.  It wasn’t long until I had my hearing tested and got a better hearing aid and eventually an ear mold.  I presently wear a Liberty digital hearing aid which I bought at Costco.

Our first SWC Convention was in 2006 in St. Louis.  Judy and I have been to SWC conventions in Las Vegas, Philadelphia,  Baltimore, Williamsburg, and this past year in Savannah.

I am looking forward to the challenges with SWC in regards to Fundraising and helping the SWC to grow and expand in ways we can’t imagine right now.  The SayWhatClub is more of a family than just a hearing loss support group.

I was glad to see and meet new people at the Savannah Convention.  I have made many new friends at the Convention and on Facebook as well.

Reaching out to others is the hallmark of the SWC and I want to do my best to help us to continue to reach out, provide information, and welcome our new friends to our “virtual kitchen table” where you can pull up a “virtual chair” and join in the conversation.  Too often we are left out of conversations, left out of social interaction, and sit on the sidelines.  You are welcome here my friends, pull up a chair, join in, or just sit back and learn … and laugh on many occasions.

linda binns

Vice-President

I grew up with normal hearing, and lost hearing on one side, due to a blow to the head, when I was 38. I am considered a late-deafened adult. I began using hearing aids, and my hearing continued to drop, the other side started going also, for reasons unknown. I escalated to more and more powerful hearing aids, until finally, I qualified for a cochlear implant. I now have bi-lateral cochlear implants.

I became an activist for people with hearing loss in the workplace. I became the go-to person for my Human Resources Dept. when situations arose, regarding staff with hearing loss.

I made a conscious decision not to be a victim. I joined SWC in 1999, at the lowest emotional point in my hearing loss journey. I promised myself I would never cry over it again, but I would educate myself and learn to live inside of it. I am proud to educate and advocate wherever I go. I do not hide my hearing equipment, but show it proudly and am always open for discussion or questions.

I worked for a large government legal agency, for 31 years, I have a BA in criminal justice, and also have 2 graduate degrees. I am recently retired. I am also on the executive team for Virtual Ability, a non-profit that assists the disabled in virtual online accessibility issues. I am glad to be able to re-join the SWC BOD at this time in my life, to be able to give back. I owe much of my success in my hearing-loss journey to SWC. The people here have long surpassed online acquaintances, and are now lifelong friends.

I am married, my husband and I have 5 grown children and 3 wonderful baby-grands, that we love dearly.

michele linder

SWC Treasurer

In 2008, at a time when I was struggling with a major hearing dip, I stumbled upon a SayWhatClub Online Voices article posted on someone’s personal blog. My interest was piqued, which led me to SWC’s website. I immediately joined. In the almost ten years I’ve been with the club, I’ve learned more from the people in the SayWhatClub than from a lifetime of doctors and audiologists.

My first week with SWC was emotional. I read about myself in the experiences of others, and the biggest impact was the feeling that I finally belonged somewhere and that there were people who could relate to my life with hearing loss. People who had experienced some of the same challenges, but who had also learned similar lessons and skills along the way. I felt validated, and that is no small thing.

My volunteer experience started from wanting to pay forward the kindness, support and regained confidence I found during my personal time of struggle and need. I wanted to help others who might be feeling isolated and alone, but what wound up happening instead is that I helped myself far more than anyone else.

I’ve volunteered with the club from the very first months of joining, first as a List Rep and a few years later as the List Rep Committee Chair. Also, early on, I was invited to become a regular contributor for our Blog and Newsletter. I reluctantly agreed, wondering if I was qualified, but soon became more confident with encouragement from some great people on the Social Media Team. Once the public Facebook page was created, my duties expanded to searching for content to share there. I’ve been part of the Web Committee for the last four years, and work on our convention pages, and most recently have helped with the new website. I also do some layout and design work for the Convention Steering Committee creating flyers, the program, and other resources. I’m currently serving my first term as a member of our Board of Directors and I’m beginning my second year as Treasurer.

If you think you would like to volunteer for SWC, but feel you aren’t qualified, you need to get over that. The only qualification you need is a willingness to help others in the way you needed help. You’re qualified simply because you know what it’s like to live with hearing loss.

I’m also a Consumer Captioning Advocate in my community and online, and when I have time I add my voice to a wonderful captioning group, CCAC Captioning. I’m married with four grown children and two grandchildren. I enjoy spending time with family, photography, travel, hiking, biking, snowshoeing, and kayaking in the beautiful wilderness of northern Minnesota where I live.

Robyn Carter

SWC Secretary

Born with a mild hearing loss, my hearing gradually disappeared and I was rendered totally deaf at the age of 31. I was implanted almost immediately, being the eighth adult of New Zealand to have an implant in early 1993. The implant is excellent but I have had a few hiccups along the way with a couple of failures — but re-implanted each time and now happy with my hearing.

I joined SWC in 1995 and have helped in various roles over the years and currently serve on the BOD.

I lead a busy life — serving on the Executive Board of Deaf Aotearoa, I campaign tirelessly for an increase of captioning in New Zealand, and am president of our local camera club and councillor of the photographic society of New Zealand. I am a passionate photographer and when I’m not doing something for the Deaf, you will find me exploring all the nooks and crannies of my surrounds with my camera. I have one daughter who lives in the Netherlands.

Leslie Cotter

Director

I am a long time member of SWC, I joined in 1996 (or there abouts) on the Connect list where I have made many long time, close friendships. I currently live in St Paul, MN with two cats. I am retired from full time careers in many areas, the last was teaching. I love my part time job in retail at a major big box craft/fabric store as it feeds my crafting addiction.

I started losing my hearing in the 4th grade, but it went undiagnosed until college. I remember being double tested by the school nurse, but my positive response to her inquiry about swimming all summer led her to dismiss her findings. This went on through Jr Hi. In hindsight, I recognize many behaviors during those years and high school as indicating hearing loss. My family life was a bit messy during that time with moves, divorce and general life that no one noticed.

Me? I didn’t know I was different. I didn’t know others could hear the phone ring from a different room. I didn’t know that others could follow the conversation in a dark car. I didn’t know other students heard every word the teacher said. I didn’t know instruments made sounds after high F. I didn’t know.

A nasty bout of tinnitus caught my mother’s attention while I was in college on a vocal scholarship. The family doctor sent me to a specialist who said I had pretty ears; they just didn’t work. He didn’t recommend hearing aids at that time, but declared a 50% loss. Hmmm. I graduated with a 3.7 average and went off into the work world.

Two years later, my hearing took a drop and I got hearing aids. A couple of decades or more later, I got a cochlear implant and it absolutely changed my life. I have been up and down through the years. I have fought the good fights and succeeded in life with technology, determination and skill.

I have been an advocate for hearing issues since the 1990’s. I served on MN Commission serving Deaf and Hard of Hearing People. I served as President of MN Chapter #1 HLAA, I served as State Coordinator for HLAA. I edited the Chapter #1 newsletter. I served on the MN Hearing Instruments Consumer Advisory Panel. I served on Qwest Consumer Advisory Board. I was Hard of Hearing Program Coordinator for Doorways, a local non-profit where I developed Hearing Through Older Ears, a program geared to educating Seniors about life with hearing loss. It also targeted caretakers and businesses serving HoH Seniors. On SWC I have served at a List Rep for Connect and been involved in the planning of Conventions. I look forward to making more friendships on SWC in the coming years.

kim ward

Director/Registered Agent

My hearing loss began when I was a teenager, most likely due to an unknown auto-immune disease of some kind or possibly the measles contracted earlier at age seven.  No one knows for sure as it was a very slow decline.  It continued to decline for the next several decades until I became profoundly deaf.  In 2011, I was implanted with an Advanced Bionics HiFocus electrode array on the right side.

I wear an AB Q90 cochlear implant processor and its accompanying Phonak Naida link. I am considered a highly successful cochlear implant recipient, thanks in part, to the listening rehab support and suggestions I received from the SayWhatClub CI List shortly after implantation.

I joined the SayWhatClub in 2002 and attended my first SWC convention in Seattle the following year.  It was an incredibly uplifting experience to be around other people who understood hearing loss.  The support I received from them the decade leading up to my cochlear implantation was vitally important to my sense of well-being.

I learned about captioned phones, vibrating alarm clocks, pocket talkers, looped rooms, and just about every gadget that could make my life easier with a severe to profound hearing loss.  More importantly, I learned how to advocate for myself in an assertive and direct way.  Since 2002, I have served as chair and vice-chair of SWC’s Web Committee and Social Media respectively and volunteered on the convention steering and list rep committees.

Additionally, I have served on the board of directors for another Washington state based nonprofit called the Washington Communication Access Project (Wash-CAP) since 2011.  I have been their treasurer since 2014.  Wash-CAP’s focus is on promoting captioning access for the deaf and hard of hearing at business venues, public buildings, and anywhere deaf, Deaf and hard-of-hearing people need captioning access in order to fully participate in what’s happening around them.

I am a married “empty-nester” with three grown children living in the Seattle area.  I work part-time at a public library.  Reading is a favorite activity, of course. I also enjoy gardening when the weather is nice, hiking, folk music from early 1960s to current Indie folk bands, birding, making pies, knitting and crochet, not necessarily in that order.  I am currently working on a huge project to transform my yard/garden into a small sustainable sanctuary with native plants and wild berries to attract wildlife displaced by suburban sprawl.

I was surprised when I was nominated for the board of directors this past year in 2016.  I wondered what kind of contribution I could make that would have a positive impact on SWC and its subscribers.  One of the best things about the SayWhatClub, in my opinion, is its Mission Statement.  I realized that if I let our Mission Statement guide me in everything I do for SWC, everything else would fall into place.  So far, I haven’t been wrong about that.

I am profoundly grateful for the peer support I have received from the SayWhatClub since 2002.  SWC gave me coping skills to manage the everyday challenges of living with a hearing loss, the courage to advocate for myself, and hope that I could lead a normal life despite hearing loss that made communication nearly impossible.   Thank you, SWC!

chelle wyatt

Director

I started losing my hearing a little at a time around 14 years old. When I was 18 tinnitus struck and by age 23 I was wearing hearing aids. I found SWC in the late ‘90s and credit this organization with changing my hard of hearing life. I found new friends just like me. I learned about technology and I learned better coping strategies.

I took a break from SWC around 2000 to pursue other adventures, having learned what I needed at the time. After another big hearing drop, I came back to SWC in 2009 to find the same support that helped me before. I found some old friends still on the lists and made lots more new ones. The people on the Connect list helped pull me through another bad time, where I again learned about more technology and better coping strategies. SWC is close to my heart and I will probably be a lifer now.

For the last 3 years I’ve been working for the Utah Division of Services to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing part time as a hard of hearing assistant. I love this job. as I get to pass on my knowledge and help other hard of hearing people.