People behind the foundation
Paddy Ladd, Honorary Member, Author and Creator of “Deafhood”
Paddy is a lecturer and MSC Coordinator at the Centre for Deaf Studies at the University of Bristol. He completed his Ph.D. in Deaf Culture at Bristol University in 1998 and had written, edited and contributed to numerous publications in the field. Both his writing and his Deaf activism have received international recognition.
He received the Francis Maginn Award “For Lifetime Achievement for the Deaf Community” from the British Deaf Association (2004); the E.M. Gallaudet Award for “International Leadership in Promoting the Well-Being of Deaf People of the World” from Gallaudet University (2009); and the Deaf Lifetime Achievement Award from the Federation of Deaf People for activities which have extended the possibilities for Deaf communities in the UK and worldwide (1998). He was also added to the British Deaf Association’s Roll of Honour for “Outstanding Contributions to the Deaf Community in Deaf Education” (2007).
Ella Mae Lentz, Organizing Chair
Upon discovering the word “Deafhood” (coined by Dr. Paddy Ladd), Ella was challenged to stop the injustices done to Deaf people by Audism and Oralism. She set out to unshackle the Deaf community in which she grew up and identifies with.
Born in Berkeley, California, to wonderful Deaf parents and a vibrant Deaf community in the mid-1950’s, she grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area during the 1960’s. There she witnessed not only protests against war and racism but the beginning of the Deaf Resurgence. Upon graduating from the California School for the Deaf, Berkeley, in 1971, she went on to Gallaudet University. It was at Gallaudet that she had an epiphany about American Sign Language which launched her into a career of teaching, training instructors, and interpreters, performing poetry and helping with linguistic research.
Recently retired after 16 years of full-time teaching ASL and Deaf Culture at Berkeley City College (formerly Vista Community College), Ella has formed ASL Presents LLC. Her immediate goal is to complete the major updating of the Signing Naturally curriculum series of which she is a co-author. Her long-term goals include promoting academic excellence in American Sign Language and healthy Deafhood discourse among all Deaf people as well as in the general public.
Ella has been blessed to raise five kids with her wife, Judy Gough, and is a proud grandmother of eleven kids (three are Deaf). She also enjoys her many pets: four dogs (one is deaf), two cats (neither is deaf), and a llama.
MJ Bienvenu, Recording Chair
A native ASL signer, originally from Baton Rouge, LA, MJ received her BA in English and MA in Linguistics from Gallaudet in 1974 and 1983, respectively. She worked at Gallaudet in various departments; including Linguistics Research Lab and English, for a total of 11 years. She then moved to be a co-director of The Bicultural Center for seven years. She later became a director of Language and Culture Center for three years before she came back to Gallaudet.
MJ has published several ASL teaching materials (Faces of ASL and ASL Numerical Systems) and several American Deaf Culture videos and workbooks. She was also a sign model for the first ASL instruction books, also known as the Green Books.. She also presented to schools, colleges and universities and centers around the country, Canada, Europe, Japan, Israel, and Cyprus on topics of Sign Language Instruction, Culture, Oppression and Empowerment, Cross-cultural Interactions and Interpretation.
Kevin Clark, Fundraising Chair
Kevin is currently Chair of ASL Studies at Sacramento City College. He teaches different classes from the beginning through advanced levels of American Sign Language, Deaf Education, Deaf Culture and Deafhood classes. He has a B.A. degree in Psychology from Gallaudet University, and an M.A. in Deaf Education from California State University, Northridge. He taught at a variety of community colleges and universities including CSUN, UCSD, and College of the Canyons before starting work at Sacramento City College. He was a researcher at the Salk Institute for the Biological Studies researching the relationship between American Sign Language and the brain.
Kevin has a partner, Collin Hillenbrand, and a dog, Peanut. His late Deaf parents were Robert and Margaret Clark. He has two sisters, Roberta Clark and Darline Gunsauls. He has four nieces, Tanya Northcraft, Tiffany Gunsauls, Selina Gunsauls and Neelamma Brehns and one nephew, Aaron Barnett. He has two grand nephews, Cannon and Mac.
Marvin T. Miller, Marketing & Public Relations Chair
Marvin has always believed that the Deaf community has a lot to offer the world. He wants to build the world’s first fully integrated Sign Language town populated by a variety of bilingual people who use ASL on a daily basis.
Marvin launched several monthly newspapers of, for and by the Deaf and signing community including The Deaf Michigander and DeafNation (www.deafnation.com). He later helped launch SignNews (www.signews.org). Marvin has worked in media, video relay service and Miller has consulted with organizations on business development.
Marvin currently teaches Deafhood 101 and 201 in Indiana and other states. Marvin served as President of Indiana Association of the Deaf (IAD). He is a graduate of the Model Secondary School for the Deaf, attended Gallaudet University for two years, and he has been involved with student politics and newspapers. Marvin lives in Washington, DC and he’s currently an undergraduate student majoring in Deaf Studies at Gallaudet University. His children are currently attending Indiana School for the Deaf where Marvin’s grandmother graduated from in 1945. (Photo by John Feagans)
Marilyn Jean Smith, Finance Chair
Born in Seattle, Washington, Marilyn Jean Smith was raised as an oralist and found her identity as a Deaf person at Gallaudet University where she graduated in 1974 with a B.A. in English and in 1977 with an M.A. in Counseling. She has been on her Deafhood journey ever since.
Marilyn is the Founder and former Executive Director (1986-2011) of the Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services (ADWAS) and is considered the “Mother” of the anti-violence movement in Deaf America. She has served on the boards of Deaf Women United and the National Association of the Deaf. In addition to being on the board of the Deafhood Foundation since the fall of 2011, she is also on the boards of Discovering Deaf Worlds and the Board of Associates at Gallaudet University. Her commitment to social activism and community volunteer work is a big priority in her life.
She has been widely recognized for her work including an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Gallaudet University, the Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World award, a special award from President Clinton and many others. This summer she will receive a Person of Inspiration Award from DeafNation during its World Expo.
After retiring from ADWAS in the spring of 2011 Marilyn has been busy creating a new company with her partner Karen in Seattle. The Leading Edge, LLC provides consultation and services to non-profit organizations throughout the United States including grant writing, board development, strategic planning, conflict resolution, and fund and donor development. She is also a motivational speaker and is currently a Distinguished Alumnus Fellow at Gallaudet University and is living temporarily in Washington, DC.
She has been married since 1984 and is grandma to two little Deaf boys and mom to a darling Labradoodle named Max. She is a voracious reader, loves British television and movies, enjoys cooking and hosting parties, spends winters on her beloved island of Maui, and calls Norway her second home.
Although now retired, her work history includes: History and Geography teacher at the Kansas School for the Deaf (KDS); General Education Teacher in Middle School at KSD; Rehabilitation Instructor at a Sheltered Workshop in Kansas and in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Work Evaluator in Columbia, Ohio, and Morganton, North Carolina; ASL Instructor at Tulsa Junior College and Johnson County Community College in Kansas and Vista College in Berkley, California; and Cottage Counselor at California School for the Deaf, Fremont.
She has been married to Ella Mae Lentz for 26 years. She is a proud mother of five children and a grandmother of nine, with a tenth on the way. Her interests include caring for animals and reading books.
Timothy B. Riker
Tim Riker is currently a faculty at the Center for Language Studies at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where he teaches American Sign Language and Deaf culture. Also, he is a Certified Deaf Interpreter.
Tim brings his experience and passion as a grassroots activist advocating on behalf of Deaf children’s right to early ASL acquisition, academic achievement through bilingual ASL and English education, and a level playing field, which promotes social and economic justice. In addition to being a board member of Deafhood Foundation, he is a commissioner of the RI Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and actively working with the Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids (LEAD-K) campaign to pass state legislation in the New England region.
Most of Tim’s passion was discovered after taking a Deafhood class taught by Kevin Clark at Sacramento City College in 2008 and working with the California Deaf community to overcome AB 2072, a California legislation introduced by Assembly Member Tony Mendoza, during 2010.
Tim is the son of Deaf parents and has a Deaf brother and an alumnus of the Maryland School for the Deaf class of 1998. He earned his B.S. in Business Administration and Executive Financial Planning Certificate from Georgetown University and M.A. in Sign Language Education from Gallaudet University.
When taking a Deafhood class in 2009, Terri gained a profound insight of her lifetime journey within Deafhood. Terri is an advocate for Deaf adults and children rights including linguistics, empowered cultural identity, spiritual well-being, and wholeness.
Since Terri is a Deaf Mexican-American female from a hearing family and having attended public school, she has developed an interest in the oppressor and oppressed behaviors of cultures. Terri stresses the importance of raising and valuing all Deaf children into Deafhood to increase their leadership, achievement, critical thinking skills and confidence.
Terri has a Bachelor Degree in Psychology, a Masters Degree in Developmental Psychology and a Specialist Degree in School Psychology, all from Gallaudet University. Since 1994, Terri is a licensed Deaf School Psychologist at Indiana School for the Deaf. Also, since 1999, she teaches General Psychology at Vincennes University ASL program.
Terri is married to Scott Motter for 22 years, and they have two KODAs boys, Caleb, and Noah.
Founding Board Members
Dr. Patrick Boudreault
Dr. Genie N. Gertz
Past Board Members
Leang Hu Ngov