Tia-Nikki Ivanko, M.S., NIC, ADAC

Tia Ivanko is an educator passionate about addressing inequities in education for learners who are systematically and historically marginalized. She is committed to increasing individual and organizational ability to provide equitable and accessible programs and services for deaf people. Currently, Tia is a Co-Director at the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes (NDC). She co-manages the organization using her experience in education settings, accessibility expertise, community relationships, and personal interest in diversity, inclusion, and equity to promote NDC’s mission.

Tia has now worked under this federal funding line for three cycles, concentrating on accommodation and accessibility practices, and innovative professional development for practitioners in the field. Before joining the grant, she worked as a deaf services coordinator at a community college, collegiate program director, and a teacher of the deaf.

Raised on the east coast and now living in Texas, Tia has been connected with deaf people since her childhood. She earned her master’s degree in Deaf Education from Western Maryland College and her bachelor’s degree from Ithaca College. In fact, started her career teaching position at Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in 2001. When she is not working, you will likely find Tia spending time with her family and friends to savor life’s moments that fade all too fast.

Deaf individuals’ expectations about their abilities and future attainment are shaped early on in their lives. Beliefs and perceptions about their potential are nurtured by family interactions, school experiences, and community engagement. Research evidence summarized by the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes suggests that factors including high expectations, self-determination, and access to role models are components deaf youth need to navigate education and future employment successfully. Families, parents, educators, and communities significantly contribute to the expectations and beliefs deaf youth hold about themselves and their future. Join Co-Director, Tia Ivanko to explore strategies that cultivate and strengthen skills deaf youth need to thrive today, tomorrow, and beyond.

Track: Birth – Elementary School

Chris Payne-Tsoupros, Esq.

Chris Payne-Tsoupros, Esq. (she/her/hers) is the Education Policy Counsel of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD). As the Education Policy Counsel, Chris advises the NAD on legal and policy issues related to education for deaf and hard of hearing children and youth. Prior to joining the NAD in 2022, Chris served as a law professor at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law. She continues to teach law school courses as an adjunct professor. Before joining UDC Law, Chris practiced employee benefits law and clerked for the Honorable John A. Gibney, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. She previously taught elementary school and holds a master’s degree in education. Chris has two young children who love baseball. When she is not at work, you can find her with her family on a Little League baseball field or cheering for the Washington Nationals.

Join Chris Payne-Tsoupros of the National Association of the Deaf to discuss and learn about the many changes deaf and hard-of-hearing children and their families experience in the journey from early intervention into school-based settings and beyond. This will be an interactive workshop where participants will learn and share strategies for preparing for IEP meetings as well as strategies for supporting their children at school.

Michael Peterson, M.A.

Mike Peterson is a native North Virginian who has been working at the Clerc Center National Deaf Education Center for over 25 years. He’s currently working as an IEP Coordinator at Kendall Demonstration Elementary School for the past 15 years. He comes from a large hearing family and attended both deaf and mainstream schools. Mike has B.A degree in Psychology and M.A. degree in Mental Health Counseling from Gallaudet University. During his spare time, he enjoys outdooring with his two dogs and family, biking, pickleballing, and cooking. He is also a vivid Capitals hockey team fan. Interesting fact: Mike rode his bike for about ten weeks from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco in the summer of 1992.

Join Mike Peterson, IEP Coordinator at Kendall Demonstration Elementary School, to learn how families and caregivers can maximize intentional learning opportunities and social opportunities for their deaf and hard of hearing children with the consideration of promoting self-empowerment. Families will learn how they can guide their deaf and hard of hearing child(ren) in discovering the world and how/why it is important to empower their child to advocate for themselves.

Track: Middle School – High School

Russ Goddard, MRC, CRC

Russ Goddard works for the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation as the Statewide Coordinator of Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deafblind Services.  In his position, Russ provides technical assistance to OVR field staff and central office staff with issues related to the provision of services for deaf, hard of hearing, and DeafBlind OVR customers.  He also worked in his capacity as the program director for the Summer Academy for High School Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing for the past five years.  Russ has a total of 23 years of experience in vocational rehabilitation, first as a rehabilitation counselor for the deaf and hard of hearing in the state of Ohio, then continuing in the same capacity for PA OVR before being promoted to his current position.  Russ has hearing loss, bringing into this position a wealth of personal and professional knowledge about adult services, educational, and transition services for high school students with hearing loss.

Join Russ Goddard, statewide coordinator of deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind services from the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation to discuss transition services available through state vocational rehabilitation agencies.  Participants will learn the general concept behind vocational rehabilitation, and some of the pre-employment transition services available for Deaf and Hard of Hearing middle school and high school students through vocational rehabilitation agencies.

Kent Turner, M.A.

Kent Turner is a game designer at the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes (NDC). Gamification, the process of adding game-design elements to school curriculums, is his passion. He wrote his thesis on this approach at the University of California, San Diego, where he received his M.A. in Bilingual Education. As a former teacher for the deaf, Kent utilizes years of experience in classroom instruction, curriculum design, and game design to develop gamified resources for deaf youth. Among these resources is Deafverse, an educational choose-your-own-adventure game that allows players to navigate life as a deaf person.

Join Kent Turner, a deaf game designer with the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes (NDC), to learn about Deafverse, an online choose-your-own-adventure video game. Deafverse challenges players to navigate tough decisions and respond to situations they may encounter in school, the workplace, and other problem-solving scenarios familiar to deaf people. Participants will be able to collaborate on integrating Deafverse at home and into the classroom as a supplement to existing transition practices and curricula.