Youth Leadership Camp (YLC)

The 40th summer session of the NAD YLC will be held at Camp Taloali in Stayton, Oregon June 25-July 22, 2009. Staff training week will be held June 16- 24, 2009.

One of the exciting additions to the 2009 program will be “Theme Day.” Themes include: Public Speaking and Debate, Community Service, Diversity, College and Careers, Crisis, Theatre, Digital, Deaf Studies, ASL, and more. Guest speakers from across the nation with theme day areas of specialization will provide workshop, activities, and more. Campers will learn about each theme in-depth and tie it to inner-exploration.

We are still accepting male camper applicants. We also need camp nurse and assistant chefs. All positions above will be open until filled.

This year is also the 40th Anniversary of NAD YLC! Due to economy hardship, we, along with YLC alumni, will celebrate at the 2010 NAD Conference.

We are in need of donations to support this summer session.

Please contact us at if you have further questions about this summer session or want to make a donation.

Junior NAD National Conference

The next national Jr. NAD conference will be held at the Texas School for the Deaf, November 4-8, 2009. Schools with active and registered Junior NAD chapters will be able to select representatives from their chapter to attend the conference. At the conference, attendees will meet other students from all over the nation and they will participate in workshops that will provide tools on how to better lead their school. Of course, there are fun activities on the side, including some off-site trips. Additional information will be given to chapters who register to attend. Click here for the flyer.

College Bowl

We are pleased to announce Kyle Houston of Seattle, Washington is the current Chair of College Bowl Program. He is a candidate for Juris Doctor at University of Washington School of Law. He participated in the College Bowl and served as a committee member before stepping up to the chair position. The NAD is fortunate to have him and we are looking forward to working with him, especially with the expansion of College Bowl!

We are currently accepting applications from colleges and universities with deaf programs to participate in the College Bowl at the 2010 NAD Conference in Philadelphia, PA. Please contact the Director of Youth Programs for eligibility criteria. The deadline to apply is June 1, 2009.

Miss Deaf America 2008-2010, Michelle Lapides

Michelle’s vlogs are now online! Please go to The vlog will keep you updated regarding Michelle’s travels and happenings. She is also available for future appearances. For more information, please visit

Last summer was full of opportunities for deaf youth! The following includes several events at the NAD Conference, Deaf Youth USA, and Youth Leadership Camp. [Partial excerpts from July/August NADmag].


Junior NAD Delegates

Colton Jannusch, recent graduate of John Hersey High School, Illinois, and Claira Oberrender, Texas School for the Deaf were appointed by Junior NAD delegates at the 2007 National Junior NAD Conference to represent the Junior NAD as delegates at the 2008 NAD Conference. They stood in front of hundreds of people at the Council of Representatives meeting to share YLC top ten priorities. They also said a few words at the Youth Luncheon on behalf of junior NAD members.


College Bowl
The finals were moderated by Jackie Roth. The judges were Kelby Brick, Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen and Julie Rems-Smario. After the first 20 questions in round one, Gallaudet lead with 16 points, NTID/RIT was second with 13, and CSUN third with 8 points. The second round saw Gallaudet jump out with a commanding lead, accumulating 52 points, in second was NTID/RIT with 34, and CSUN finishing out with 26. In the third round, NTID/RIT gained ground on Gallaudet coming within 13 points of tying the lead. Nevertheless, Gallaudet finished strong to win an unprecedented third straight College Bowl with a score of 127 to NTID/RIT’s 79 and CSUN’s 76. You could find further information in 2008 conference blog.


Miss Deaf America

First, a big thanks to Chelsea Tobin, Miss Deaf America 2006-2008 for her dedication, commitment, and passion during the past two years.

We are very excited to welcome Michelle Lapides, Miss Deaf Maryland as the 2008-2010 Miss Deaf America. For the next two years, she will journey across the country on behalf of the NAD to inspire young deaf leaders. Her first appearance was at NAD Youth Leadership Camp in August.


Melissa Draganac-Hawk, the director and her committee did a fabulous job running the program on-site including incorporating the Youth Programs’ vision of positive changes. Read more about the Miss Deaf America Finals in the 2008 NAD Conference blog.


The 2008 Miss Deaf America retreat took place at the Louisiana School for the Deaf in Baton Rouge, once week prior to the NAD Conference. The one-week program focused on women, self-improvement and leadership related topics.


The Miss Deaf America program was the topic of meetings held during the conference week and some changes were approved. The program will now be called the Miss Deaf America Ambassador program. The word “pageant” was dropped because of perceptions. In addition, the talent category is now called artistic expression, the evening gown category is now called “presence and poise” and State Pageant Directors are State Directors of Ambassadors. In addition, the age range has been changed from 18 to 28 to 18 to 30 and preliminaries will have an on-stage interview during the presence & poise category.


Visit to read about Michelle’s experiences traveling.


Youth Luncheon

More than 130 people celebrated the accomplishments of deaf and hard of hearing youth. Emcee LaToya Plummer facilitated the program that included: Ryan DiGiovanni, Manny Johnson, and Melissa Malzkuhn who were the NAD-USA youth representatives to the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) Youth Camp in Segovia, Spain and the World Congress of the WFD.


Youth Service Awards were presented to Chanel Gleicher and Tawny Holmes for their dedication, vision, and leadership that have made a difference in the community and the world around them.


Deaf Youth USA

President Bobbie Beth Scoggins, Vice President Chris Wagner, Chief Executive Officer Nancy J. Bloch and other NAD Board members visited the Deaf Youth USA camp held just prior to the NAD Conference. I joined in discussing the structure of the NAD and its youth programs. As President Scoggins said, “It was a meeting of great minds, an awesome opportunity to learn of the common goals we can pursue together to empower deaf youth of America.”


Youth Leadership Camp

Check out the daily blogs of the 39th session of the NAD Youth Leadership Camp at: The 2008 session began on July 20th and ended on August 28th with 57 campers from all over America. The next issue of the NADmag will report on the 2008 NAD YLC session written by Megan Erasmus. The 2009 session, which will also be the 40th session, will be announced shortly.


Youth Programs Assistant

We hired a full-time Youth Programs Assistant, Melissa Kononenko. She just graduated with a Master’s in Leisure Service Administration and has experience working with various youth programs. We, the NAD, know she will make a significant contribution.


Youth Strategic Team

The current NAD Board formed Youth Strategy Team (YST) composed of some board members, at-large members who are invested in deaf youth, and me as the liaison for NAD Youth Programs. The core objectives of the YST are: 1) Analyze all of the current NAD Youth Programs to provide feedback on whether we should with each program. 2) Look at new possibilities and changes for the future viability of NAD Youth Programs. And 3) How can we attract and retain more youth?


I’d like to close with a quote:

          We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.

                -Franklin D. Roosevelt


Now is the peak time for Youth Programs with the recently held NAD Leadership Training Conference in Austin plus preparation for the 49th Biennial NAD Conference in New Orleans and the 39th Annual NAD Youth Leadership Camp.


Woooo! I am still digesting the highly successful NAD Leadership Training Conference, held April 3-5, 2008 at the Texas School for the Deaf.

Let me give you a little background. The NAD had a Collegiate NAD (CNAD) program from 2001 to 2005. This ceased because we all realized that leadership conferences focusing on deaf youth in the 18 to 30 age range would be better than those targeted to college students only.

The recent NLTC ’08 was so successful that this will be held annually, with an expanded scope. Future conferences will focus on the leadership development needs of college students, young professionals, and volunteers involved with state associations, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, corporations and other settings. This is indeed the first conference targeted to youth ages 18-30 and this is exactly what we need – youth are the future of the American deaf community!

Back to NLTC ‘08, I felt high energy in the air throughout the weekend. We all came to the conference with different goals. An obvious and common goal was the desire to make a difference in others’ lives. If you think about it, people went to the conference to refine and improve their leadership skills, so they’d have the skills to help others. In other words, the conference was full of passionate people! With 130 people in attendance, the conference got off to a wonderful start!

Most of the leadership training workshops included discussion on current trends and future implications. My workshop was on attitude as being the key to success. The current young generation has different attitudes than my and my parents’ generations. I focused primarily on ways to maintain positive attitude throughout all types of situations and how this is tied to success. Attitude is cited as one of the common concerns shared by many deaf youth. As you may have noticed, apathy has been increasing the past decade. It is important that we, together, find ways for deaf youth to become more involved with their communities at all levels, including the NAD, to enhance their personal and professional growth as leaders.

Overall, NLTC ’08 has paved the way for a bright future ahead!


After few years of searching for the right person to direct the NAD Youth Leadership Camp (YLC) program, we found the right person: Melissa Kononenko. She will graduate this May from Gallaudet University with Master’s degree in Leisure Service Administration. How fitting! She has the required background that will help her succeed as director this summer. She was previously staff, assistant director and interim director for Camp Mark Seven. She went to YLC as a camper during 1997 and is currently interning under my supervision to prepare for this summer’s YLC session. It has been a pleasant and positive experience working with her.

We also hired Jonathan Kessel as YLC assistant director. He worked at YLC the past two summers as staff member, very dedicated and committed to his work. He received one of the best evaluations from the campers. He is ready for new challenges by working with staff members this time around. He was a YLC camper in 2002 and has positive attitude and energy that will spread among all involved at this summer’s session.

Nikki Nowalski will return as YLC business manager for her second summer. She has been coming to NAD every Thursday as a volunteer to help out with various projects. Her commitment and ideas are valuable to NAD and YLC!

YLC positions still open: Curriculum Coordinator, Chef, and Assistant Chef (2). Apply ASAP!

College Bowl

A new concept has been discussed for the last few years and now, it has become a reality!

The NAD College Bowl program is expanding! The three legacy colleges/universities are Gallaudet, NTID, and CSUN. This year, we will have a fourth team. We will announce the new team in a few weeks. Please click the following link to read further about the expansion,

Junior NAD

The next National Junior NAD conference will be hosted by the Texas School for the Deaf in the fall 2009. Interested? Join Junior NAD and start fundraising for this exciting conference!

Please visit for updated information.

Miss Deaf America

We have a wonderful NAD Miss Deaf America committee for this summer’s MDA retreat and finals!

Melissa Draganac-Hawk, Competition Director, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Christine Multra Kraft, Assistant Director, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Contestant Coordinator, Cindy D’Angelo, St. Augustine, Florida
Personal Development Coordinator, Trina Schooley-Fernandez, Rockville, Maryland
Chaperone & Parents Coordinator, Patty Wolfangle, Golden, Colorado
Judge & Donations Coordinator, Ann Billington Cassell, Verona, Wisconsin
Stage Manager, Janna Montagnino, St. Augustine, Florida

We will announce the state winners in June.

Deaf Youth USA

We are proud to support and sponsor the Deaf Youth USA camp gathering to be held at KOA Kamground in New Orleans, Louisiana from July 3 to 7, 2008. This is right before the 2008 NAD conference. Those who are accepted into the DYUSA camp gathering at KOA will receive free basic registration to NAD conference.

Excerpted from

Deaf Youth USA is committed to social justice through the use of media and activism. We envision in giving deaf youth in America the best opportunities BY creating opportunities. The first opportunity? This summer. That’s where DYUSA will host an event at KOA and get a national forum going to feel the pulse of the nation’s deaf youth.

This forum is important – in bringing out questions, discussions, concerns, ideas, and answers.

In order to have a successful forum – with a national-wide voice – the people who come must be from different states, different backgrounds, different ethnic/races, different genders, different orientation. This is America.

More opportunities to come, of course, and our vision will be tightened once deaf youth in America is seen and felt.
(Visit the website to learn more about the event).

Be the Change….

My current work email signature says: Be the change you want to see in the world. – Gandhi

Support NAD Youth Programs by becoming a member and donor, so that we can, together, make real change happen!

Jennifer Yost Ortiz
Youth Programs Coordinator
National Association of the Deaf

My name is Jennifer Yost Ortiz. I marked my seven year anniversary working for the NAD as Youth Programs Coordinator August 2007. I was fortunate to find my passion in my 20s. My passion is deaf youth leadership development.

I am enthusiastic about this blog and communicating with you about happenings within deaf youth leadership across the nation.

The goal of this blog is to keep you informed of updates and announcements pertaining to NAD Youth Programs and any deaf youth leadership opportunities. I will also share my thoughts as Youth Programs Coordinator from time to time.

NAD Youth Programs include Junior NAD, Youth Leadership Camp (YLC), Miss Deaf America (MDA) College Bowl (CoBo), NAD Leadership Training Conference (NLTC) and many other projects/events for deaf youth Americans.

I am often asked, “What is the age range for ‘youth’?” The age range within NAD Youth Programs is 13 to 30 years old.

The mission of NAD Youth Programs is to prepare young deaf Americans to become future leaders and advocates by building their self-determination.

Self-determination is a combination of attitudes and skills that lead to taking charge of person’s life by setting goals, evaluating options, making choices, and working to achieve goals.

I am also often asked, “Why does NAD need youth programs“ NAD needs Youth Programs to build future leaders of Deaf America! By having more leaders, they would be able to fight for our rights! Perhaps, they will work at the NAD in the future. Youth Programs needs NAD for role models, resources, and advocacy!

Please visit for further information about each program.

What’s happening right now?

YLC ‘08 - We have few spots left for male campers. Please apply as soon as possible. We are also accepting camp counselor and administration positions. Deadline to apply: April 1st. The information and on-line application is on

NLTC - We are hosting the first annual training conference specifically geared to young up-and-coming deaf leaders. The NAD Leadership Training Conference will be held April 3-5, 2008 in Austin, Texas, with the theme of Moving Forward Through Proactive Leadership. Deadline to apply is March 12th.

MDA - Chelsea Tobin, Miss Deaf America is available for appearances up to July 2008. She could help you attract people to your fundraising event! She could be a great role model for your students. Get to know Chelsea by visiting

MDAP - We are in need of Stage Manager for this exciting national competition during the NAD conference, July 7-11, 2008 in New Orleans, LA. We are also looking for judges. Please contact Jennifer at

Youth Service Award - We are seeking nominations. The award will be presented to two individuals: one between the ages of 14-18 years, and the other between the ages of 19-28 years, whose dedication, vision, and leadership have made a difference in the community and the world around them. The deadline for nomination is March 14. For further information about the nominations, visit

Have questions? Need further information? Just want to say hi? Email Jennifer at