The Oticon Focus on People Awards celebrated a 20-year milestone at a gala event honoring the 2018 Oticon Focus on People Award winners. Held on October 13 at the OticonNext Conference in Orlando, the Awards ceremony recognized 13 remarkable individuals in the Student, Adult, Advocacy, and Hearing Practitioner categories who are helping to change the perception of what it means to have a hearing loss, Oticon announced. More than 10,000 votes cast by people across the US helped to select the winners.

“In 20 years, the Oticon Focus on People Awards have honored more than 270 outstanding individuals with hearing loss,”said Nancy Palmere, director of consumer marketing and public relations for Oticon, Inc. “All Focus on People Award winners, like our 2018 honorees, share a determination to contribute that has enabled them to overcome challenges and achieve goals well beyond what many thought possible. In two decades, we never cease to be amazed and humbled by all that our Focus on People Award winners have accomplished.”

The 2018 first place Award recipients include an 18-year-old environmentalist, a national advocate for media inclusion of people with disabilities, a trailblazing firefighter, and a dedicated audiologist who has spent more than 40 years supporting children with hearing loss and their families. Special Achievement Award winner Jonathan Hutcherson, a singer and songwriter and former contestant on NBC Network’s The Voice, performed for the audience of more than 700 hearing care professionals.

(Left to right): First place winners Celine Yang (Student category); Clare Wolf (Adult); Oticon President Gary Rosenblum; Johnnie Sexton, AuD (Practitioner), and Special Achievement Award winner Jonathan Hutcherson.  Not shown, Jamie McClintic, first place winner in the Advocacy category.

(Left to right): First place winners Celine Yang (Student category); Clare Wolf (Adult); Oticon President Gary Rosenblum; Johnnie Sexton, AuD (Practitioner), and Special Achievement Award winner Jonathan Hutcherson. Not shown, Jamie McClintic, first place winner in the Advocacy category.

2018 First Place Winners

STUDENT – Celine Yang, Belmont, Calif  

Celine led a plan to implement a tri-bin waste system on her high school campus, an idea first generated when she served as an environmental education intern with her city’s waste facility. Celine and the student “Green Team” proposed the concept to administrators, managed logistics, and took on the challenge of educating others. Now a first-year student at UC Berkeley, Celine is pursuing her interest in environmentalism.

ADULT – Clare Wolf, Rubicon, Wisconsin

A late diagnosed hearing loss isn’t keeping Clare from her goal to become a full-time firefighter and an emergency medical technician (EMT), both of which require acute hearing ability. She currently works as a volunteer firefighter and a paid on-call firefighter and recently completed EMT training. This spring, she participated in a foreign exchange program in Germany for fire and EMS students.  

ADVOCACY – Jamie McClintic, Alpena, Mich

Jamie, a Doctor of Occupational Therapy, is a passionate advocate/spokesperson for the Changing the Face of Beauty, a national campaign to empower people with disabilities by advocating for inclusive imagery in media and advertising. Through her work, Jamie aims to normalize stigmas associated with individuals with hearing loss and all people with disabilities. Her book, Grieving the Gift (January 2019), provides support for families when receiving a life-altering diagnosis.

PRACTITIONER – Johnnie Sexton, AuD, Raleigh, NC

Johnnie has worked with children who are deaf and hard-of-hearing for almost four decades. In 2009, he created the nonprofit CARE Project for the advancement of family, professional, and pre-professional training opportunities in emotional/adjustment counseling. The CARE Project helps to ease the emotional journey and grieving process in families who learn their child is deaf or hard-of-hearing, with the ultimate goal being acceptance and advocating for the best life possible. 


Jonathan Hutcherson, Nashville, Tenn

Jonathan is a singer and songwriter who gained national acclaim when he competed on Season 10 of The Voice.  The talented artist now lives in Music City USA (Nashville), where he proudly wears his hearing aids on stage, in-studio, and when he’s meeting fans, driving awareness and inspiring others with hearing loss to live their dreams.

In addition to a $1,000 prize, first place winners received a $1,000 donation from Oticon, Inc to the nonprofit organization of their choice. First-place winners in the Adult, Student, and Advocacy categories also received a pair of advanced technology Oticon hearing aids.

There are eight second and third place winners in the program’s four categories:


2nd place – John David Cobb, Knoxville, Tenn

3rd place – Julio “James” Hernandez, Atlanta, Georgia


2nd place – Frederick Brooke, Old Lyme, Conn

3rd place – Garth Baker, Twin Falls, Idaho


2nd place – Rich Patterson, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

3rd place – Mark Goldstein, Thousand Oaks, Calif


2nd place – Lena Kyman, AuD, Raleigh, NC

3rd place – Carol Clifford, AuD, Albuquerque, NM

To read the stories of all 2018 Oticon Focus on People Awards winners, visit:

Source: Oticon

Image: Oticon