Director’s Update: A Time for Change

Published on December 10, 2020

This is a close-up image of a woman named Stephanie Cawthon. She is wearing a black formal jacket with a reddish pink top inside.
These days it can be considered a cliche, but for me, it’s very heartfelt: I sincerely hope this update finds you and your family healthy and safe. As you well know, the National Deaf Center specializes in transitions — the big life changes that prepare us for success and set paths toward bright futures. Now it is time for our own transition. At the start of the new year, I will be shifting from my current role as Director into a new role as Strategic Advisor. This change in leadership may seem sudden, but it is part of our strategic vision — as NDC continues to evolve as an organization, and personally as I expand my work with other projects to ensure access and equity for all students. NDC will continue to be deaf-led. Carrie Lou Garberoglio, PhD, will assume the duties of Director and Principal Investigator effective January 1, 2021. Her former role of Associate Director and Co-Principal Investigator will be filled by Tia Ivanko, MS, our current Director of Operations. With their experience and expertise over many years with this funding line, this will be a seamless, smooth, and stable transition for valued stakeholders like you. Since we founded NDC in 2017, it has truly been a remarkable experience and one that I will carry with me always. I am struck by the innovation, integrity, and authenticity of the work of this dynamic team. Together with you, we have broken boundaries and engaged in improving systems not just for today’s deaf students, but for generations to come. Some highlights of the past four years for me include:
  • Groundbreaking collaborations through the Engage for Change | state initiative, bringing cross-agency state teams in education and vocational rehabilitation together to seek change through data, dialog, and initiatives — all tailored to each state context.
  • Leading national conversations about closing gaps in educational and employment outcomes for deaf youth, translating our research into action and communicating it together with external experts, national task forces, and media.
  • Transforming the theoretical frameworks about transition and accessibility by digging deep into the research literature and including deaf perspectives in our publications, data collection, and outreach — expanding how we think about and address barriers to postsecondary success. What are the root causes? How is access more than accommodations? What does evidence mean?
  • Working with all of you — our colleagues across so many schools and universities, organizations, technical assistance centers, and agencies — to dismantle our isolation, engage cooperatively, and make change together, one student at a time.
I am sure none of us will forget 2020 and all the challenges and opportunities it has brought us. Leading NDC through this time of pivots, our focus on people over projects, and advocating through unprecedented change is something that I am particularly humbled by and proud of. Now we look hopefully ahead to 2021. NDC will shift back to monthly eNewsletters — which will share the essential resources, groundbreaking findings, and helpful assistance you can rely upon — and launch new live panels, eLearning courses, and World Two of Deafverse. And this I know for sure: NDC will continue in its mission toward greater #DeafSuccess. I look forward to continuing this journey with you.   In peace and gratitude,   Stephanie W. Cawthon, PhD Founding Director and Strategic Advisor National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes | @swcawthon
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