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Spotlight on CHC and others who make a difference

CHC’s 108th Annual Meeting, June 10, 2019

The 108th Annual Meeting of the Center for Hearing and Communication (CHC), June 10th, was an occasion to highlight CHC’s transformative clinical services while showcasing the extraordinary achievements of individuals who are making the world a better place for people with hearing loss.

The CHC Difference

Steve Peikin, president of esteemed hearing and communication center, CHC

Steve Peikin, CHC President

Steve Peikin, President, and Laurie Hanin, Executive Director, kicked off the 108th Annual Meeting by putting the spotlight on what makes CHC truly unique—a skilled professional staff and a comprehensive array of services that, every day, transform the lives of people with all degrees of hearing loss.

Steve Peikin first encountered CHC in 1998 when the clinical staff diagnosed his daughter Ali’s profound hearing loss. After years of services and support, Steve attributes much of his daughter’s success today (she’s a rising senior at Harvard) to CHC’s “team of world-class audiologists, speech pathologists, and counselors . . . whose knowledge, experience, and technical expertise is literally world class . . . The staff is what separates and elevates CHC.”

Laurie Hanin, Exec. Director

Laurie Hanin underscored the passion with which CHC’s staff embraces six core values that represent the essence of who CHC is and what it stands for, now and always. “All of our services are provided through the lens of our core values: innovation, teamwork, commitment, integrity, inclusiveness, and community partnership. It’s these core values which drive virtually every one of the decisions we make. It’s these core values that our clients experience each day when they are coping with the challenges of hearing loss and deafness.”

Click below to view the 2017/18 Annual Report and see how CHC’s values not only shape programs and services, but bring meaningful change to individuals and families striving to overcome the challenges of hearing loss and deafness.

Recognizing academic achievement

Three outstanding scholars—one current and two former “CHC kids”—were recognized for academic excellence.

Paige, a rising first-year at Rochester Institute of Technology, was honored with the Irving and Rose Schlesinger Scholarship. Before receiving a rousing standing ovation (yay, Paige!), she spoke eloquently about her years of listening and spoken language therapy at CHC and all the people who supported her in her journey:

“I want to give a big thank you to my parents, the staff at CHC, my hearing teachers, and my supporters for always helping me to overcome many obstacles throughout my life. Because of all my supporters, I learned how to advocate for myself and learned to appreciate the fact that even though I have hearing loss, it does not make a difference to anyone or define who I am . . . I have realized my own potential and discovered one of the most important pieces of advice: Be who you want to be.”

Jane, a rising first-year at McDaniel College, received the Howard Mandel and Ed Graham Memorial Scholarship. Unable to be there in person, Jane shared this insightful video message about what it’s like to grow up wearing hearing aids.

Rose, age 10, received the CHC Young Scholar Award, an honor presented by Board member and past President Jeffrey Cohen. Accepting the award, Rose worked the room like a veteran public speaker. Check out the video of her acceptance speech (click the CC button to view captions) and see how she wows the audience, especially with her closing rim shot. Way to go, Rose!

Honoring leaders and visionaries

An exceptional roster of leaders and visionaries were honored for contributions that have redefined what’s possible with hearing loss.

Helen Rosenthal, City Council Member, 6th District, received the Ruth R. Green Advocacy Award for being a passionate and caring champion of people with disabilities. Following an introduction by Board member, author and noted advocate Arlene Romoff, Helen Rosenthal spoke of her own groundbreaking legislation that expanded communication access for people with hearing loss.

“In 2017, the Mayor signed my legislation into law which requires that any public assembly area constructed or renovated using city dollars must install hearing loop technology. To the best of our knowledge, New York City is the first major municipality in the country to enact such legislation, enabling tens of thousands of New Yorkers to fully participate in public hearings and meetings for the first time.”

Joseph Duarte, Co-CEO of

InnoCaption, was honored with the Nitchie Award in Communications for providing free, instantaneous captions for smartphone calls to assist people with hearing loss. Accepting the award, Joe reflected on InnoCaption’s pioneering role in helping to bring communication access to people with hearing loss.

“When this all started, we had no idea the level of impact that our work could and would have on the lives of hard of hearing individuals around the country. Your recognition of our work through the Nitchie Award means the world to us—to our entire team—because it validates our commitment to our mission to empower the lives of deaf and hard of hearing people. It is an achievement that I know our entire team will be proud of for many years to come.”

On behalf of the CHC mentors, Morgan Fleischman accepted the Sheldon Williams Leadership Award presented by Sheldon’s son and Board member, Don Itzkoff. Morgan highlighted what makes CHC and the mentor program so unique.

“What makes CHC different is its commitment to empower individuals and help them succeed. The mentor program is a wonderful example of this, creating an inclusive environment for children and young adults who have hearing loss. Mentors participate in fun and interactive programs with the kids, and most importantly, provide support and encouragement.”

The Irving Berelson President’s Award was presented to acclaimed author Rebecca Alexander. Since her diagnosis of Usher Syndrome as a child, Rebecca has gradually lost both her vision and hearing and is now deafblind. But her disabilities have in no way held her back. She’s a psychotherapist, an accomplished athlete, in-demand public speaker and an exercise instructor. Her memoir, Not Fade Away, is expected to become a major Hollywood film. Most importantly, though, she’s a leader in generating awareness for Usher Syndrome and advocating on behalf of all people with disabilities.

“[CHC] has really created tremendous opportunity for people who otherwise would not know how to find or create that opportunity for themselves . . . What you do is you create access, and you tell all of us who have hearing loss that no matter what our needs are, whether CART . . .  ASL interpreter . . . you are here to accommodate us, and let us know that that’s normal. And I cannot stress the importance of how significant and wonderful that is for people like me.”

Thank you to our incredible honorees, scholarship recipients and everyone else in the CHC community who helped to make this celebration such a memorable gathering. See you at our 109th!

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