Meet our
Georgia Hands & Voices
Board of Directors
"What works for your child is what makes the choice right."  
Deshonda Washington: Parent
Executive Director, Georgia Hands & Voices
Guide By Your Side Parent Guide

Deshonda has a background in training and design which has led her to the position of Parent-
Advocacy Lead on the Board of Directors for GA Hands & Voices. Having a child with a hearing loss
has prepared her for a lifelong journey of advocating for the needs of her daughter, Lauren. She is
passionate about supporting Deaf/Hard of Hearing families across the state of Georgia. Deshonda
has been trained as an educational advocate through the Hands & Voices Advocacy Support and
Training (ASTra) program; she participates on the H&V HQ ASTra committee and has presented these
supports around our state. Her ultimate goal is to empower parents of children with disabilities and
ensure our Deaf/Hard of Hearing children reach their highest potential. Deshonda is married with
three children Ashanti, Lauren and Lorenzo Jr. and resides in Marietta, GA.  She truly believes in the
Hands & Voices motto,
“What works for the child is what makes the choice right.”

Terri Patterson: Parent
Chapter Support Coordinator Hands & Voices
Guide By Your Side Program Manager

Terri and her husband have two children, Molly, and Riley, who was diagnosed with bilateral profound
hearing loss at 2 months. They live in Acworth, GA. Terri has worked as a Parent Educator for Babies
Can’t Wait and has coordinated several family events and workshops for her district’s early
intervention program, as well as for the organization. She is also involved in both local and state Early
Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) task forces, as well as many other initiatives and projects
such as the Georgia Pathway to Language and Literacy and Let Georgia Hear. Terri presents on
various topics around raising a child who is D/HH and leadership at local, regional and national
conferences. She also participates on the Georgia Team for the National Deaf Ed. Summit, hosted by
PEPNet 2.

JImmy Peterson: Parent
Georgia Center of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. Executive Director

Yvonne N. Graham: Parent

Yvonne and her husband have one daughter, Gabrielle (3) and are expecting Baby Graham this
spring.  Gabby, who was diagnosed with bilateral severe/profound hearing loss, discovered after
failing the newborn hearing screening. After confirming that the hearing loss was genetic, Yvonne’s
mission was to get involved with the Deaf/HOH community. She wanted to understand and advocate
for Gabrielle and all children and parents of children with hearing loss. Yvonne also has an aunt who
is Deaf, and this would give her the opportunity to educate her extended family and do away with the
wives’ tales of what causes hearing loss.  Yvonne was previously very active with Arkansas Hands &
Voices Chapter and, after relocating to Georgia, she made it her mission to immediately get involved
with the Hands & Voices Chapter in Georgia.  Yvonne currently works in Human Resources for
Compass – USA. She received her undergraduate degree in Agribusiness Management from Alcorn
State University and her Master’s in Business Administration from Webster University.

Kelly Jenkins:  Parent
Let Georgia Hear Co-Founder

Kelly and her husband, Simms, are the parents of three children, Sam (8), Cal (6) and Sloane (3).  
Kelly has progressive bilateral sensorineural hearing loss (currently moderate to moderate/severe).  
She attended mainstream schools and used lip reading and closed captioning to aid in her
communication when needed.  Her daughter, Sloane was diagnosed with the same type of loss at 14
months of age at which time their family realized that the hearing loss was a genetic trait.  Sloane
wears bilateral hearing aids and the two have a unique bond because of their shared hearing loss.  
Upon learning of her daughter's loss, Kelly became more interested and involved in learning more
about the Deaf/HOH community and advocating for children with hearing loss.  She was particularly
concerned over the lack of insurance coverage for children's hearing aids and co-founded the parent-
led organization Let Georgia Hear in 2011, which is an initiative working towards passing legislation
in Georgia which would require insurance companies to cover the cost of children's hearing aids for
all children/families who may benefit from this technology. Kelly is currently a stay at home mother, but
before having children worked in Marketing and Information Technology for BellSouth with a
specialization in Internet Marketing Strategy.  She received her undergraduate degree in English from
Davidson College and her Master’s in Business Administration from Emory University.  She also
serves on the Atlanta Speech School's Guild Board.  

Elaine Thagard, Ed.D.
Board Secretary

Elaine received her doctoral degree in education from Samford University. Her dissertation topic was
Pragmatic Language in Students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: A Search for Correlation with
Success in the General Education Environment. She received her master’s degree in educational
audiology from Emory University and her bachelors in speech and communications from the
University of GA. She was a classroom teacher of students who are deaf and hard of hearing for 20
years at both the Atlanta Speech School and in the Cobb County School District. She was a Supervisor
of Special Education for the Cobb County, Georgia School District for fifteen years supervising the
Deaf/Hard of Hearing Program, the Visually Impaired Program, Community Based Vocational Skills
Training Program, Audiology Services, and the Adapted Physical Education Program.  She is currently
a Program Specialist in the Division for Exceptional Students at the Georgia Department of Education

Ellen Rolader, MA/Deaf Education

Ellen and her husband, Rob, live in Marietta with 1 daughter, Mariellen, 15.  Their other 2 children,
Jenna, 25, lives in Oklahoma and Kyle, 27, is married and lives nearby in Atlanta.    Ellen was born
profoundly deaf and raised orally in Atlanta.  She attended private schools with after school
auditory/oral training at the Atlanta Speech School. She graduated from the Lovett School and
completed her BA degree in Early Childhood Education at the University of Georgia.  Upon graduation,
she attended Gallaudet University where she began learning sign language and obtained a Masters
in Deaf Education.  For the last 30 years, Ellen has worked with deaf/hard of hearing children ages
birth to high school in various educational settings with experience using all communication
methodologies. She has taught children in mainstreaming programs using the aural/oral, total
communication, and cued speech communication methodologies, as well as in schools for the deaf
using ASL in bilingual-bicultural programs.   Her strongest focus has been in Early Intervention,
working with parents of young deaf and hard of hearing infants/toddlers who use any communication
methodology to be actively involved in their child’s education, particularly in their child’s language and
literacy development.   She is currently the Outreach Coordinator for the State of Georgia’s Relay
service that provides free and accessible telecommunication services to people who are deaf, deaf-
blind,  hard of hearing, late-deafened and/or speech disabled.   

Dr. Kenney Moore
Board Advisor

Dr. Kenney Moore is the Director for the Division of State Schools at the Georgia Department of
Education (GaDOE). At the GaDOE, he provides state level supervision of the Atlanta Area School for
the Deaf (AASD), the Georgia Academy for the Blind (GAB), the Georgia School for the Deaf (GSD), and
the Georgia Parent Infant Network for Educational Services (GaPINES). Prior to his current role, Dr.
Moore served as a school level leader at the AASD, GAB, and GSD. He has been a policy analyst,
program specialist, and research and evaluation specialist at the GaDOE. Before joining the GaDOE
in 2001, Dr. Moore was a middle school teacher in Georgia and Florida. He is the co-chair of the
Georgia Pathway to Language and Literacy initiative. Dr. Moore holds a bachelor’s degree from the
University of West Florida in Language Arts/Social Studies, a master’s degree from the University of
West Florida in Educational Leadership, and PhD in Policy Studies and Educational Leadership from
Georgia State University. Dr. Moore’s dissertation research focused on improving the literacy of deaf
students through the use of computer-based learning.

Cindy Dunn-Kearly, MA/Deaf Education
Board Advisor

Cindy lives in Augusta with her husband, Don and her stepson, William. She is a Teacher of the Deaf
and Hard of Hearing for Columbia County Public Schools. Cindy also serves as a Parent Advisor for
Georgia PINES. Cindy has worked in the field of Special Education for 20 years, and has been a
Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing since obtaining her Master's degree from Gallaudet
University in 2003.I feel it is important to inform, empower and support families so each and every
child who is deaf or hard of hearing has the opportunity to reach their fullest potential.

Clare Sullivan, MEd.  
Board Advisor

Clare is recently retired from her position as the Education Program Manager of Georgia Parent Infant
Network for Educational Services (Georgia PINES) via the Department of Education. She is now a
Part-Time Instructor for Georgia State University and a Georgia PINES Parent Advisor  She has many
years of experience working with deaf and hard-of-hearing children and families including state
residential programs, state day school programs, local education programs and Georgia's Universal
Newborn Hearing Screening and Intervention Program. Helping families realize their child's potential
is her passion. Her favorite past-time is hiking in the mountains or any National Park.

Dr. Frank Nesbit, Ed: K-12  
Board Advisor

Frank Nesbit is the Georgia Department of Education’s consultant for programs for students who are
Deaf and Hard of Hearing. He has worked with deaf students in schools since 1987, with experience
that includes employment at Gallaudet University, Atlanta Area School for the Deaf, and as a teacher
and administrator within local school systems. He holds professional certification as a Teacher of the
Deaf, as an Educational Interpreter, and as a Director of Special Education with a Master’s degree in
Deaf Education and a Doctorate in Management of Programs for Children and Youth. His federally
supported professional learning projects focus on improving the achievement of all students who are
deaf and hard of hearing.
graduated from Alabama School for the Deaf in Talladega, Alabama.  He received a Bachelor of Arts in
Business Management and Political Science from Jacksonville (AL) State University in 2002.  Prior to
of Northwest Florida and worked for several video relay services providers.  He also serves as an
officer and/or a member of many organizations such as Alabama Association of the Deaf and Georgia
Association of the Deaf. Jimmy’s wife, Amy Peterson, is the Deaf Services Coordinator at the
Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD). They have two daughters
who are Deaf.