Wendy Hewitt – Parent
My name is Wendy Hewitt and I live in the southwest corner of Wyoming in a little town called Mountain View. I am the mom of 3 awesome kids Dallie, Ruger and Kassidy. Both Ruger and Kassidy were born with profound, bilateral hearing loss. So began the journey I never imagined I would take which involved learning about hearing aids, cochlear implants, ling sounds, speech therapy, IEPs and early interventions, the list we all know too well. My son Ruger is a sophomore and my daughter Kassidy is an 8th grader. They are both doing great in school, they have many friends and are involved in way too many activities. Ruger loves rodeo, basketball and sister tormenting. Kassidy loves rodeo, soccer, basketball and wants to be on American Ninja Warrior!
In May of 2006 some of the professionals in our state talked Deb Hovde and I into starting Hands & Voices in Wyoming. So off we went and with the support of many organizations we became an official chapter in September of 2006. It has been amazing to see the changes and growth that have come in 14 years. Hands & Voices is a great support organization and that I am proud to say I am a part of.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Molly McColley – Parent
My name is Molly McColley and I am the mother of a daughter with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss and the granddaughter of a hard of hearing (since childhood) grandfather. I was introduced to Wyoming Hands and Voices in early 2017 during my daughter’s journey to hearing aids. Although I have been around hearing loss and hearing aids my whole life, the role as a parent in the process was very new to me. Hands and Voices has provided me the ability to unite with other parents and families of deaf and hard of hearing children in our state and with professionals connected to hearing loss; I am so grateful for the advice, knowledge and experiences that I have gained. Watching my daughter build friendships with other deaf/hard of hearing children like her has been beautiful and priceless!
Kim Reimann – Parent
Pediatric Clinic Coordinator/GBYS Coordinator
I am Wyoming Families for Hands & Voices Guide By Your Side Coordinator and also work as a Family Advocate/Liaison at CDC+ Audiology Clinic located in Casper, WY. My formal training as an elementary educator has paved the way for me to work with families who have children diagnosed with hearing loss. I am the parent of three children, my oldest, who is now 21, was diagnosed with a bilateral sensorineural progressive hearing loss at 7 ½ months old and is now profoundly deaf. She was fitted with hearing aids at 8 months old and currently uses a cochlear implant in the right ear and a hearing aid for the left ear. It is because of our experiences that I have been fortunate to become involved with Early Intervention, the Wyoming EHDI Program, WY Families for Hands & Voices, CDC+ Audiology and the world of hearing loss.
David & Donella Holland- Parents
We are David and Donella Holland. We are the parents to Mikey and Sophia. Sophia was born with moderate to severe bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. At first, we had no clue what the next steps were when it came to supporting our daughter and her hearing loss. Wyoming Hands and Voices reached out to us and changed our lives. They became such a solid support system for us because of the resources, services, and connection with other families that have individuals that are deaf or hard of hearing. Our family interests are traveling, being outside, fishing, playing with Legos, building forts, and watching movies.
We believe that you should never let your disability dictate your abilities. We prefer to call Sophia’s hearing loss a special ability. We enjoy reaching out to other families that are not connected with Wyoming Hands and Voices. Giving them the support that we were given is something that is so rewarding. This is our first year being board members for the Wyoming Hands and Voices and we are greatly honored to be part of the team. We are all in this journey together.
Betsy Tengesdal – Parent
Our daughter Mazie (11), has a progressive bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. She was identified at about 18 months and aided around 2.5. We became involved in Wyoming Hands and Voices in 2014 when our family moved to Wyoming. Seeing the excitement on her face when she met other kids with hearing aids made me realize the importance for her to connect with others who also have a hearing loss. Being connected with other parents has helped as we transition from one stage to the next and have questions about everything from technology to sports participation to social situations.
KATEY STAEBEN – AUDIOLOGIST
My name is Katey Staeben and I am an educational audiologist with Laramie County School District One in Cheyenne. I received my Doctorate in Audiology (Au.D.) from the University of Kansas Medical Center in 2009. While obtaining my doctorate I focused on pediatric and difficult-to-test populations; completing a Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND) program, which provided an opportunity to collaboratively assess children with developmental delays. I look forward to interacting with families and students every day and I am grateful to be a part of the Wyoming Families for Hands and Voices organization.
Former EDHI Coordinator
Nancy Pajak grew up in a large family on a farm/ranch in North Dakota. She completed her undergraduate degree in Speech and Language Pathology at the University of North Dakota. Following her time at UND, Nancy worked as an SLP for school districts in Minnesota. Colorado State was where she chose to get her Masters in Audiology. Nancy worked as an educational audiologist in Wyoming school districts (Natrona County School District No. 1, Casper; and Laramie School District No. 1, Cheyenne) for eight years before moving to Washington in 1987. While in the Seattle area Nancy worked in both clinical and educational audiology settings. Upon returning to Wyoming Nancy became the supervisor of Deaf & Hard of Hearing Outreach from 1992-1994.
In collaboration with the University of WY Speech and Hearing Clinic and Child Development Services of Natrona County, audiology services appropriate for pediatrics were offered in Casper approximately every six weeks from 2008 to 2019. In 2019 audiology services offered at the Child Development Center of Natrona County (CDC+ Audiology) became available on a full-time basis. Nancy also recognized the critical need for parents to be fully informed and engaged as they learn to manage their child’s hearing loss. As a result, a Parent Advocate is integrated into the processes and procedures available to families at the CDC+ Audiology Clinic. Identification of children who develop hearing loss as infants, toddlers and preschoolers was also developed under Nancy’s guidance. In collaboration with the Child Development Centers throughout the state, Wyoming’s youngest citizens can receive an age appropriate hearing screening using a uniform screening protocol with calibrated equipment at 42 sites across the state.
Wyoming is currently the only state which consistently makes this type of hearing screening available to children throughout their state. Nancy marveled at the ability of the people of Wyoming to come together to support the development of screening, diagnosis and early intervention for infants, toddlers and preschoolers with hearing loss. She considers herself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to do the work! Nancy and her husband Mark have been married for 32 years. They live in Laramie WY. They have two sons; Luke lives in Denver and Patrick lives in Seattle.
Jo Otterholt – deaf adult
Jo Otterholt brings a lifetime of experience to Wyoming Hands and Voices having been born deaf, advocating for the deaf, mentoring deaf students, educating the deaf, and giving many reassuring hugs to parents, family members, friends, and educators of the deaf. My twin and I were born deaf; but it was not confirmed that we had severe to profound hearing loss until we were 4 years old. We were immediately fitted with the newest state of art transistor, body-worn hearing aids of that time. In 2017, I realized that hearing aids were no longer effective for my needs, so I had bi-lateral cochlear implants. I am still realizing many new to me sounds that I had only known about before – but never really heard. This summer, it is with nervous dread that I am anticipating hearing a mosquito buzzing for the first time. Just last week, I ducked and clamped a hand over my ear – the first snowflake-in-the-ear-canal shock!
I worked for Wyoming Department of Education, Individual Learning Division as Resource Specialist of the Outreach Library Services for the Deaf/HH, located in the former School for the Deaf Building in Casper. Outreach Library houses resources and materials related to all aspects of living with and educating Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing children, students, and adults. Through collaboration with Outreach Library, families are able to receive books to read with their children under guidance of the READ Plus Program.
I have been blessed and proud to be the coordinator, chaperone, and coach of Wyoming Academic Bowl Teams since 2003 – 15 years. Gallaudet University sponsors this academic competition that has changed the lives of Wyoming deaf and hard-of-hearing high school students. Wyoming students have travelled across the United States from the west to east coast of United States and from Washington, D.C. to Riverside, CA. Wyoming Teams have won several Regional Competition trophies and medals as well as being able to compete in the last four National competitions in Gallaudet University.
OTHER STAFF MEMBERS
Speech Language Pathologist
My name is Susan Fischer and I am a speech language pathologist with 20+ years of experience working with children with a variety needs including children with hearing loss. I am honored to be a part of Wyoming Families for Hands and Voices and excited about the READ Plus Program. I am connecting with Wyoming families with children birth to kindergarten with hearing loss through the READ Plus Program.
My role is to provide guidance to families to understand their child’s hearing loss, understand the possible impact of the hearing loss on their child’s development and to teach strategies related to language development, speech development, device use and so much more! If interested, families in the READ Plus Program are also taught to use sign language while reading books with their child and during daily routines.
Via technology, I am able to connect with and positively impact families across WY. If your are interested in more information regarding the READ Plus Program please email me at [email protected] or call 1-970-222-8094