Alumni eNewsletter: Charter Day experiences inspire students, award recipients, alumni, and attendees (Archives)

Photo: Stevens
Deaf attorney Helga Stevens of Belgium delivers the keynote address at the seventh annual Charter Day presentation.
Photo: Bailes and Behmanesh
Dr. Cynthia Bailes, a professor in the Department of Education, and Abbas Behmanesh were mistress and master of ceremonies at this year’s Charter Day celebration.
2008 Charter Day Award Winners L to R: James R. Macfadden, ’62 (LCCF Amos Kendall Award), Norman Finkelstein (GUAA Pauline “Polly” Peikoff, E-’36, “Service to Others” Award), Helga Stevens (LCCF Edward Miner Gallaudet Award), Trudy Suggs, ’95 (GUAA Outstanding Young Alumnus Award), Jack Gannon, ’59 for Lawrence R. Hott (LCCF Alice Cogswell Award) and Oscar P. Cohen (LCCF Alice Cogswell Award)
Colleen Doyle, a hearing undergraduate student (HUG) signing a citation about Oscar Cohen’s achievements

On Thursday, April 3, the Gallaudet community was treated to birthday cake in honor of Gallaudet University's 144th birthday.

On Friday, April 4, deaf attorney Helga Stevens of Belgium spoke in Foster Auditorium at the seventh annual Charter Day presentation to the Gallaudet community about her work and life as the first deaf member of the Flemish Parliament, and senator for her home country. (Her video presentation will soon be posted on the Gallaudet Website.)

President Davila, '53, hosted a BBQ in the upper level of Peikoff Alumni House on Friday evening to honor the award recipients. The event gave them an opportunity to meet with Gallaudet administrators, GUAA Board of Directors members, Laurent Clerc Cultural Fund (LCCF) Committee members, and Alumni Relations staff members. It was filled with great fellowship and scrumptious food.

The 2008 Charter Day luncheon and awards program highlighted the accomplishments and milestones of a group of dynamic leaders at the local, national, and international levels. A profile of this year's award recipients is: a president of nine deaf organizations; a hall of fame member of numerous organizations; an energetic volunteer; an active advocate and clever business woman with writing ambitions; a well-known educator with a big vision for deaf children of linguistic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds; a renowned founder and innovator of businesses who has empowerment goals; and a successful deaf attorney and politician fighting for better welfare, public health, and accessibility in Belgium and Europe.

More than 125 people attended the 39th Annual Charter Day Luncheon and Awards Program to honor this year’s Gallaudet University Alumni Association (GUAA) and Laurent Clerc Cultural Fund (LCCF ) award recipients in the Peikoff Alumni House. The delicious lunch was prepared by our special caterer, Doreen Sawhill Moore, '77. This year, students in "English 396, Technical and Managerial Writing" class taught by Robert "Bob" Weinstock, '77 & G-'83, had an opportunity to research, write citations, and sign key points about their assigned award recipients on the stage. The student guests were inspired to sit at the tables with the award recipients. They had the positive experience of seeing and connecting with many successful leaders and past and current award recipients in the same room. They were awe-struck by the information about Gallaudet and the history, achievements, and contributions of the deaf community. Many longtime Charter Day luncheon attendees agreed that it was an excellent idea to have students to introduce and talk briefly about award honorees' achievements and contributions. The students admitted that the experience of signing and introducing the winners was nerve-wracking but they could not ask for a better Gallaudet experience than interacting with many deaf leaders and alumni in the beautiful and historic Peikoff Alumni House.

This year's Charter Day celebrated the 144 years since President Abraham Lincoln signed Gallaudet’s Charter in 1864. Another milestone this year was that the LCCF of the GUAA celebrates its 40th year. During the luncheon program, attendees had an opportunity to learn more about the LCCF's contributions and achievements from a PowerPoint presentation narrated by the mistress and master of ceremonies, Dr. Cynthia Neese Bailes, '70, and Mr. Abbas Ali Behmanesh, '02. The LCCF history at a glance is summarized separately in the next Alumni Enewsletter issue.

Summary of award recipients' achievements and contributions

GUAA Outstanding Young Alumnus Award--To a young alumnus or alumna of Gallaudet University of the past 15 years who has performed some impressive service to the University and/or the deaf community, or who has brought recognition to our alma mater through some notable achievement in his/her personal or professional life.
Trudy Suggs, '95 (Minn.)
Trudy's tag line for her business, T.S. Writing Services, LCC, is "Let us take care of your words." She has been known for writing, editing, creative design, and communication and media consulting. She and her freelance staff of writers, editors, and designers, all deaf or hard of hearing and bilingual in American Sign Language and English, take care of the words of a broad clientele--deaf and hearing, non-profit and for profit. She serves on several boards for her home state and is currently secretary of the National Association of the Deaf's Board of Directors. She is also a member of the board of the National Deaf Business Institute.

GUAA Pauline "Polly" Peikoff "Service to Others" Award--to an individual, hearing or deaf, from within the deaf community who has contributed of himself or herself, especially as a volunteer, to the community.
Norman Finkelstein (Fla.)
Norman has been active as an untiring volunteer and a loyal and reliable leader of many deaf organizations for six decades. He served as a president of nine different deaf organizations. He also served as a sports coach, leader, and writer. He was official scorer for American Athletic Association of the Deaf basketball tournaments for five consecutive years. No fewer than three organizations elected him to their Hall of Fame.

LCCF Alice Cogswell Award--For valuable service on behalf of deaf people.
Lawrence R. Hott (Mass.)
Hott is a famed producer of History Through Deaf Eyes, a frank examination of 200 years of deaf history. He has worked with PBS numerous times to produce astonishing volumes of documentaries. He knew nothing about deaf history and culture when he was contacted by PBS and WETA-TV, collaborating with Gallaudet University. For this film project, Lawrence was able to recruit a diverse staff that would contribute to the broad scope of his lens, and assembled a documentary that would portray to the audience the many facets of deafness and deaf people. With the film, he spread increased awareness of deafness to the entire American community, and promotes the diversity we have seen amongst ourselves.

LCCF Alice Cogswell Award--For valuable service on behalf of deaf people.
Oscar P. Cohen (N.Y.)
Oscar is a leader in deaf education. He is the former chief administrator of the largest school for the deaf in New York State, the Lexington School for the Deaf. He has a family rich in deaf history that has helped to provide a bridge to equality for minority groups. He has been involved in efforts to advance education not only for deaf students, but for students who have backgrounds that are linguistically, racially, and ethnically diverse. His numerous publications and years of involvement with many organizations serving students of diverse backgrounds make him truly deserving of this award.

LCCF Edward Miner Gallaudet Award --For recognition of national or international leaders for promoting the well-being of deaf people.
Helga Stevens (Belgium)
Helga met Sheila Conlon-Mentkowski, '74, a deaf attorney who inspired her to pursue her dream of becoming a lawyer. She studied law in Belgium and at Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley. She held positions as a project coordinator, director, and president of the European Union of the Deaf. She is the only deaf person who has entered the Parliament Chambers and also served as a senator. She became an elected member of the Ghent City Council.

LCCF Amos Kendall Award --To a deaf person for notable excellence in a professional field not related to deafness.
James R. Macfadden, '62 (Md.)
James, a Gallaudet Board of Trustees member, is the founder of Macfadden and Associates, a systems integration firm specializing in the development of computer software systems and program management services for the United States Government. The company became completely employee-owned in March 2007. He started another venture, JR Mac, Inc, which helps Job Corps Centers accommodate deaf and heard of hearing youth. Over two million young people have received Job Corps training. He is president of the National Deaf Business Institute.

Posted: 16 Apr 2008

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