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Introducing Nine Honorary Co-Chairs for TDI’s 50th Anniversary Gala

Learn more about the nine honorary co-chairs for TDI’s 50th Anniversary Gala and their significant contributions to our community. 

Introducing Nine Honorary Co-Chairs of TDI’s 50th Anniversary Gala -- TDI brings together key leaders and members of its association, sister consumer groups, industry, and government for its 50th Anniversary historical celebration. The Gala will be filled with mementos of TDI’s 50-year service and contributions to the deaf and hard of hearing community in America and beyond. To learn more about TDI’s 50th Anniversary Gala, and to buy tickets to attend the Gala visit TDIforAccess.org/GALA. 
The nine honorary chairs helped serve as a partner to TDI, allowing it arrive at this historical milestone. TDI is honored to have these significant contributors serve as Honorary Co-Chairs for our Gala. -- (Steve Brenner photo) Steve Brenner and his wife, Dot, took part in the early stages of the TTY movement in the metropolitan Washington, DC area. Steve was one of the original TDI agents in the 1960’s and 1970’s in the state of Maryland. Now retired from over forty years with the US Department of Navy, and operating with Dot, Potomac Technology, a TTY and other accessibility products store in Rockville, MD, they have been loyal members of TDI since the late 1960's. -- (Bobbi Cordano photo) Roberta "Bobbi" Cordano is the 11th President of Gallaudet University, a position she has held since January 1, 2016. For more than 40 years, Gallaudet and TDI have maintained a highly collaborative partnership in public policy and technology research and development. Bobbi is the daughter of Waldo and Jean Cordano from Delavan, Wisconsin, who were longtime TDI members. In the early '80s Bobbi as a young deaf woman, testified in the state legislature in support of Telecommunications access. She represents the post-baby boomer generation of deaf and hard of hearing Americans who have benefited from using TTYs, TV captioning, and relay services, thanks to TDI’s advocacy in the 1970’s. -- (Rob Engelke photo) Robert Engelke has boldly built on the vision of Dr. Robert Weitbrecht for a better future in communications for deaf and hard of hearing Americans. Ultratec has manufactured and sold 3.5 million TTYs over the years in 27 countries and 13 languages. Today, thanks to his vision and leadership, Ultratec invented the captioned telephone in 2000 and has been providing CapTel service ever since. Ultratec identifies totally with TDI's mission to be the "consumer voice" with government and industry in Washington, D.C. on needs and issues of Americans who are deaf and hard of hearing in telecommunications, media, and information services. -- (Tamar Finn photo) Tamar Finn is a partner with the law firm of Morgan Lewis and Bockius, LLC, home to one of the most highly regarded telecommunications and technology law practices in the country. Morgan Lewis lawyers have played roles in nearly every significant development in the communications industry—both in the United States and internationally—during the last 30 years. For nearly a decade, Tamar has led the team of Morgan Lewis attorneys providing pro bono legal services to TDI. Morgan Lewis has represented TDI and its sister consumer groups in policy advocacy before the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”), and other agencies such as the Department of Justice and Department of Transportation, and before the U.S. Congress. Since the late 1990s, the Morgan Lewis team under the leadership of Andrew Lipman and Catherine Wang have used their unique expertise, including prior working experience at federal agencies, to work with TDI to shape communications policy and achieve regulatory results that benefit our community. -- (Cheryl Heppner photo) Cheryl Heppner was Executive Director with Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC) for twenty-five years. She represented the Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA) in the monthly meetings of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network (DHHCAN). Her most profound lasting impact is her authorship of the report, Emergency Preparedness and Emergency Communication Access: Lessons Learned Since 9/11 and Recommendations. This report continues to generate significant impact in federal regulatory policy on our access to emergency information and services since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. -- (Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz photo) Dr. Alan Hurwitz holds the unique distinction of serving in three highly visible national roles in the deaf and hard of hearing community, first as President of National Association of the Deaf (NAD), then as President of National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), and last, as President of Gallaudet University. Under his leadership while at NTID and Gallaudet, both universities had highly collaborative partnerships with TDI in public policy and technology research and development. He and his wife, Vicki, took part in the early stages of the TTY movement first in the St. Louis, MO area and later in the Rochester, NY area. He also served on the TDI Board of Directors, playing a key role in guiding the Association with development of a long-term strategic plan for its day-to-day operations. -- (Sen. Edward Markey photo) During Edward Markey’s political career, first as a U.S. Representative, and now as a U.S. Senator from the state of Massachusetts, he has been a tireless advocate for the national disability community. He worked collaboratively with TDI and a number of other national consumer advocacy organizations that were members of the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT). Between the years 2007 and 2010, he worked closely in a bipartisan manner with other U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives to pass into law the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. He and a few other U.S. Senators conducted a public hearing on the prospects for wireless indoor location accuracy and its benefits for emergency communications. -- (Andrea Saks photo) Andrea Saks grew up in the midst of the emerging TTY movement with her parents, Andrew and Jean Saks who were long time founder members of TDI. In 1975, she lobbied extensively to establish transatlantic calls via TTY. The first such call between two deaf people, one in the US, and the other one in UK, took place on May 12, 1975 as a part of the first telecommunications equipment exhibit at the US Trade Center in London, England. She has served as a TDI delegate on behalf of deaf and hard of hearing people, in activities of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) as well as serving on US delegations to the ITU since 1991. She was made the chairperson of the Joint Coordination Activity on Accessibility and Human Factors at ITU. A number of accessibility initiatives and events at ITU took off, thanks to her leadership and dogged persistence and with the help from her colleagues with all types of disabilities. -- (Judy Viera photo) In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Judy Viera made her mark across America in education of the deaf and youth/community development as a teacher and a Jr. NAD advisor/leader in the deaf and hard of hearing community. She also spent eight years managing California’s VR services for deaf and hard of hearing clients. She was among the first deaf women to have the courage to make a switch from working in the classroom to state agencies to the private sector. Not many have the depth and breadth of corporate experience that Judy Viera has had in America and United Kingdom from her stints at Ultratec and Wynd Communications. Toward the end of her career, she built a very successful consulting practice with Mission Consulting in telecommunications public policy with federal and state governments, and other clients. She also served for a number of years on the TDI Board of Directors.