Voting is now open for the 2023 Oticon Focus on People Awards at www.oticon.com/FOP. This is the 25th year that the one-of-a-kind national awards program will honor outstanding individuals who show the world that hearing loss does not limit a person’s ability to achieve, contribute, and inspire. People are invited to cast their votes for the 12 finalists who represent the most extraordinary from this year’s nominations in each of four categories – Student Standouts, Adult Trailblazers, Heroic Hearing Care Professionals, and Hearing Loss Champions, a new category to recognize the many people who parent, educate, serve, or support people with hearing loss and the hearing loss community.
“I encourage you to join with us during this special anniversary year to cast your vote for the 2023 Oticon Focus on People Award winners,” says Jacob Torpe Winter, vice president of marketing, Oticon Inc. “This year’s finalists, like the more than 300 finalists who have come before them, are remarkable individuals who have each found unique ways to make the world a better, more inclusive place for people with hearing loss. I know you will find their personal journeys with hearing loss as inspiring as we do.”
Further Reading: Oticon Seeks Nominations for Annual Focus on People Awards
Voting is open through December 8. The total number of votes received by each finalist will help to determine who will be the first, second, and third place winners in each category. First place winners receive a $2,500 cash prize and a $1,000 donation to the charity of their choice. Eligible first place winners with hearing loss in the Student, Adult, and Hearing Loss Champion categories also receive Oticon BrainHearing hearing aids. Second place winners receive a $500 cash prize and third place winners, a $250 cash prize.
The 2023 Oticon Focus on People Awards finalists in four categories include:
Yaduraj Choudhary (Downingtown, PA) – A first-year student at the University of Pennsylvania, Yaduraj is the founder and president of 3 Tiny Bones, a student-led nonprofit focused on destigmatizing hearing loss and educating communities on healthy hearing.
Alana Douglas (Denton, TX) – Alana, a junior at Texas Women’s University, is pursuing a nursing degree with plans to become a midwife focusing on the deaf community. She teaches coding and robotics to deaf and hard of hearing children, including underserved Chicagoland students via Zoom.
Ryan Fuller (Eureka, IL) – 17-year-old Ryan wrote “Billy the Bully Stomper,” a story about a bug who is bullied for wearing hearing aids, to help his classmates better understand the challenges of hearing loss. A scholar athlete and role model throughout his schooling, Ryan advocates for himself with coaches and referees/umpires.
Further Reading: Oticon Audiology Summer Camp Celebrates 25 Years
Hearing Loss Champions
Brett Bachmann (Louisville, KY) – Brett, the CEO of the non-profit Heuser Hearing Institute, has worked tirelessly to develop and implement programs that create lasting changes. Throughout his career, he has spearheaded numerous programs to address educational disparities, especially focused on the welfare of children with hearing loss and others who are marginalized.
Latisha Porter-Vaughn (Newark, NJ) – Latisha is the first African American president of the Hearing Loss Association of America, New Jersey chapter and a paralegal for the Center for Social Justice at Seton Hall University. The author of two books that provide guidance and inspiration to people with hearing loss and their families, she has also contributed to literature that will help improve education and employment outcomes for students who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Emily Truell (Montello, WI) – Emily, who experienced single-sided deafness as the result of a brain tumor, is determined to pay it forward to support other brain tumor warriors on their journey. Her popular blog, www.luckybraintumor.com, is a welcoming place where people with hearing loss can feel seen, empowered, and hopeful.
Zaineb Abdulla (Chicago, IL) – Zaineb is the founder of Deaf Defy, a non-profit that brings sign language, hearing aids, and audiological care to children living in refugee camps and areas of conflict around the world. Zaineb directs missions that provide advocacy skills, sign language, STEM lessons, and audiology (testing/fittings) to pediatric refugees in camps in Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Iraq.
Kathleen Dugan (Lunenburg, MA) – Kathleen, who began her career in biotech, found her true calling working on her family’s 25-acre farm. Addressing her hearing loss was key for Kathleen, who is responsible for the care and safety of the 15 head of cattle, 6 hogs, 50 chickens, and dozen turkeys who populate her farm.
Abby Silbaugh (Chicago, IL) – Abby is enrolled in the extremely selective PhD program in Neurobiology at the University of Chicago. Despite a demanding academic schedule, Abby spends hundreds of hours each year tutoring Chicago’s inner-city children and volunteering in the UChicago ENT and Neurosurgery departments and in the “Disability and Inclusion @ UChicago” initiative.
Heroic Hearing Care Professionals
Roni Dinkes, AuD (Millersville, MD) – Dr Dinkes is a passionate advocate for hearing care and hearing health, with a focus on diabetes and hearing loss. As the Maryland State Cohort for the nonprofit Audiology Project, Dr Dinkes educates and advocates for audiological monitoring of hearing and balance issues caused by chronic disease in podcasts and presentations to local, regional, and national professional and community groups.
Michelle Hu, AuD (La Jolla, CA) – Dr. Hu is a pediatric audiologist committed to empowering families and their children to feel confident in making the best choices based upon their unique dynamic and circumstances. She is the mother of three, a military spouse, and the creator of @Mama.Hu.Hears, an Instagram and Facebook account where she shares personal glimpses into her own hearing loss journey.
Chandace Jeep, AuD (Durango, CO) – Dr. Jeep a pediatric audiologist, is a Global Hearing Healthcare Ambassador volunteer with the non-profit Hearing The Call. She is spearheading the creation of a newborn hearing screening program for the entire country of Zambia, assisting locals in developing a sustainable program. Dr Jeep also helped to start Hearing the Call-Colorado to fit income-eligible residents with hearing aids.
You can visit www.oticon.com/fop to cast your vote for the 2023 Oticon Focus on People Awards today through Dec. 8.