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