Rachel Allgor

Listening and Spoken Language User

Rachel grew up in Hastings, MN and currently lives in Hudson, WI.  She went to undergrad at Minnesota State University Moorhead for Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and earned her doctorate in audiology from A.T. Still University in Mesa, AZ. She currently works as an audiologist at a private practice in Edina, MN. Rachel has a unilateral hearing loss in her right ear and wears amplification. She enjoys playing tennis, hiking, reading, hanging out with friends and family, and volunteering at her church.


Jeff Belevender

American Sign Language User

Jeff Belevender hails from Michigan and currently lives up north of Twin Cities.  He is married and has two young boys. The older one is hearing and the youngest one is deaf. He graduated from Gallaudet University with a degree in physical education.  He is currently working part-time in Mental Health area and also as a Deaf Mentor. In his free time, he enjoys fishing, spending time with his family, keeping himself busy on his hobby farm."



Leah Bender-Dolezal

Amercian Sign Language User, and Spoken Language User

She taught American Sign Language at Minnetonka High School for eight years and has been at St. Catherine University for the past two. She has a Master's in Classroom Education. She married in February 2016. When she is not working, she enjoys long bike rides, painting, and reading.




Jackie Correa-Alley

American Sign Language User, and Written Spanish User

Jackie Correa-Alley is very proud to be a Hispanic and Deaf woman. She was born in Puerto Rico and attended Deaf schools in Massachusetts. Jackie went to St. Paul Technical College and had two majors in Data Entry and Business Clerk, and in Massachusettes took up a class in Deaf interpreting. Jackie decided to do something new when becoming a Hispanic Role Model. She believes that it is important for Hispanic families to learn how to communicate with their Deaf/Hard of Hearing child. Jackie taught American Sign Language for 15 years through one on one, in an adult and hearing children education community. It included several different positions through advocacy, volunteering, community education, and participation in Deaf Community Organizations in the past.


Kate Eckroth

Listening and Spoken Language, User and American Sign Language User

Kate works in the field of Public Health, specifically in quality assurance for managed care such as with commercial and MN public program HMOs around the state. She graduated with her Masters in Public Health in Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota. She loves coffee, long-distance running, cooking new recipes at home with different spices, watching Netflix and Prime TV shows, chocolate chip cookies, and spending time with her husband and young daughter.




Linda Fairbanks

American Sign Language User

Linda graduated from MSAD and attended Rochester Community College. She was employed in the Equipment Distribution Program before moving with her three sons to Faribault where she was employed as a Special Education Program Specialist. After she remarried, she moved to the Mahnomen, MN area in Northwest MN. Linda enjoys being with her family, including her 4 grandchildren and working on the family tree.



Damian Forkner

American Sign Language User

Damian Forkner is originally from Tacoma, Washington. He attended Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind starting at the age 3. When he was 12 years old, his family moved to the Tacoma, Washington area where he attended mainstream programs. Damian has a Bachelor degree in social work from the Minnesota State University, Mankato. He is currently an adjunct instructor at Minnesota State University, Mankato. He enjoys camping, hiking, biking, coaching, playing sports, and spending time with family.




Melissa Forkner

American Sign Language User

Melissa's mom and family moved to Faribault, Minnesota when she was five years old where she attended Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre at Minnesota State University-Mankato. She is currently teaching American Sign Language classes as Adjunct Teacher at Minnesota State-Mankato.




Jerry Geist

American Sign Language User

A North Dakota native, Jerry Geist is a mentor with the Deaf Mentor Family Program. Jerry is Deaf and uses hearing aids. He graduated with a degree in Biology from Gallaudet University. After completing Peace Corps service in Ecuador, South America, he is currently a Supervisor at the Minnesota Relay Center in Moorhead. During his leisure, Jerry enjoys reading, trekking, golfing and reading good books.


Jessica Goldberg

Listening and Spoken Language User

Jessica graduated from Hamline University with a major in Economics and a minor in Business. Her hobbies are playing hockey, photography, play sports, bowling, and spend time with family and friends.




Kaity Hagen

Cued Speech, Listening and Spoken Language and American Sign Language User

Kaity grew up in Duluth, Minnesota and graduated high school in 2014. Currently, she is a senior at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities majoring in Psychology and Pre-Law and minoring in Neuroscience and Leadership. After graduation in December of 2018, she plans to take a year or two off to work, before going to law school. She enjoys going to the gym, weight lifting, biking, being outdoors, going for walks, being with friends, playing cards and board games, traveling, and photography.

Jackie Haley

American Sign Language User

Jackie is originally from California and has now lived in Bigfork, Minnesota for 20 years. She is the mother of four children and is a Deaf Mentor for Lifetrack. She graduated from Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids and will return to Bemidji State University to complete her Bachelor of Arts degree in teaching, but wants to continue and pursue her MA degree major in Deaf Studies. During her leisure time, she enjoys camping with her family and friends and likes to go four-wheeling and snowmobiling. She also loves to travel all over and meet new people.





Sara Lundquist

Listening and Spoken Language User

Sara works as a program director for KSCR radio in Benson, MN. She also has a radio show on each weekday morning called Sunrise with Sara. She is a mom of two kids and family keeps me busy. Sara enjoys cheering on her kids in taekwondo, softball and baseball. She loves gardening, canning, and enjoys photography. One of her most favorite times a year is County Fair. She loves to enter many different categories and her dream is to bring home a grand champion ribbon.


Shawn Madden

Listening and Spoken Language User

Shawn graduated from Kaleidoscope Charter School in Ostego, MN. In his free time he enjoys swimming, tennis, mini-golf, photography, and dancing. He also has three pet frogs. Most people consider him quite the jokester so be prepared to have that come your way!

Photo Credit to Katie Raivala Photography


Mandy MacDonald

American Sign Language User

Mandy graduated from Mesabi Range Community and Technical College with both A.A. and A.S. degrees and from University of Minnesota-Duluth with a B.S. degree in Biology. She is now an Information Specialist II with the Public Health & Human Services for St. Louis County. She is married with 2 sons. In Mandy’s free time, she enjoys kayaking, disc golfing, reading, and spending time with family and friends. She enjoys being a deaf mentor and seeing families' ASL skills and communication grow.



Kate Mayhew

Listening and Spoken Language User

Kate works as a nurse at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. She enjoys biking, drinking coffee, and spending time with her family and friends.






Izzy Mohommed

American Sign Language User

Izzy Mohammed was born in Ethiopia, North East Africa. He graduated with Bachelor of Science Degree in Applied Science and Art at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and Moved to Minnesota in 2011 from Canada. Izzy has been an Executive Director of Global Deaf Muslim-Minnesota Chapter since 2011. He is a mentor with the Lifetrack Deaf Mentor Family Program specifically for North East African immigrant families as well as working as a Paraprofessional at Metro Deaf School. He teaches Islamic classes for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Muslims on weekends. He speaks several languages such as ASL, English, Oromo, Somali, Arabic and French.  During leisure time, he enjoys playing soccer, field tennis and volunteering various community organizations. 


Dr. Gloria Nathanson

American Sign Language User, and Spoken Language User

She has her doctorate in audiology and teaches a course periodically at Gallaudet University related to this. She has her certificate in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Infant, Toddler, and Family Collaboration and Leadership. She serves in an advisory capacity for several things, including the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention advisory committee. Her passion is with early intervention, education, and advocacy. 




Heidy Nazario

Listening and Spoken Language User (In English and Spanish)

Heidy is currently working as a caregiver. She enjoys exercising, reading, and spending time with her family.




Eric Nooker

American Sign Lanugage User, and Listening and Spoken Language User

Eric currently works at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture as a Soil Scientist in Minneapolis. He enjoys fishing, biking, and reading."

Photo Credit to Darlene Zangara



Sherri Rademacher

American Sign Language User

Sherri is an instructor for the University of Minnesota's ASL program. Her hobbies include playing with grandkids, motorcycle riding, secondhand shopping, gardening & canning, stamping, and volunteer work.



Ashley Reuss

American Sign Language User, and Spoken Language User

Ashley has BA in Social Work and Masters in Sign Language teaching. She taught at Metro Deaf School, provided Family ASL classes, worked at Minnesota Employment Center and currently is designing her new career journey providing the general community access to learn ASL. During her free time she enjoys going to yoga classes, working out, biking, reading and be surrounded with friends and family.  



Michele Rolewitz

American Sign Language User

Michele Rolewitz attended North Dakota School for the Deaf and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf/Rochester Institute of Technology. She has worked at North Dakota State University Financial Aid and Scholarships for 33 years. She also teaches ASL classes. She is the Deaf Mentor Family and Deaf Mentor Interpreter.  She enjoys being with her family, cats, gardening, and traveling. Being a Deaf Mentor, she enjoys teaching families American Sign language (ASL) and wants to see the whole family have full communication access with their deaf child without any barriers. 


Sharon Rosen

American Sign Language User

Sharon Rosen is originally from Melrose, MN. Born deaf, she attended the MN State Academy for the Deaf and graduated from the University of Minnesota-Waseca with a degree in Horticulture. Over the years, Sharon has seen many families with deaf and hard of hearing children who have nothing or little knowledge of both ASL and the Deaf Community. Because of this, she is passionate to teach both the language and the importance of embracing Deafness.


Shanada Shwartz

American Sign Language User

With Bachelors and Masters degree in Social Work from Gallaudet University, she is able to pursue her passion in working with families and kids. Besides working as Stay-at-Home-Mom, she works as a Substitute Teacher at MSAD and as an ASL Teacher for MSAD hearing parents. During her free time, she enjoys running, camping, and spending time with family. She believes that ASL is for everyone, especially Deaf children.



Emily Smith-Lundberg

American Sign Language User

Emily is a founder and director of "Dreams and Inspirations - Deaf and Hard of Hearing Camps & Retreats", setting up many different types of retreats with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. Emily is also a Co-Director of Camp Sertoma, a youth camp for Deaf and Hard of Hearing camp at Confidence Learning Center near Brainerd, MN. Emily also serves as a Commission Member on Governor Appointed Commission of Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans.



Marisa Sorenson

American Sign Language User

Marisa graduated from North Central University with Bachelors of Arts in journalism. She enjoys reading, hanging out with family and friends, and taking long walks around Minneapolis.





Jessica Stern

Listening and Spoken Language User, and American Sign Language User.

Jessica graduated from the University of Minnesota and I became a licensed funeral director and a life insurance producer for my firm. My favorite things are spending time with family, friends, reading, watching Gilmore Girls, and drinking coffee.


Mai Vang

American Sign Language User

Mai Vang is from St. Paul, MN. Mai comes from a full-hearing family and is the only person who is deaf in her whole family. Mai currently works at ARCH Language Network in St. Paul as a Financial Services Specialist and Deaf Mentor. She recently decided to go back to school to complete her degree in Office Technology and is planning to further her education in human services. In her free time, Mai enjoys spending time with her son. She also loves to go to gym, bike, and loves watch sports, especially basketball and football.


Lisa Wasilowski

American Sign Language User

Lisa works as a K-12 school counselor in her 10th year at Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf in Faribault, Minnesota. Her areas of focus are preventive education, student advocacy, and college planning. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology (‘03) and Master’s degree in school counseling (‘05) from Gallaudet University.