Biographies of Event Leaders

– aj granda
Granda is a teacher, social justice activist, textile artist, and a mom. She is also one of the contributors developing curriculum on national project for training Support Service Providers and DeafBlind people in the first training guide of its kind. Granda hails from Carlsbad, California and has lived everywhere in the states. She made Seattle her home. Granda has been active in bringing changes and new ideas to Seattle’s DeafBlind community for the past at lest 16 years. Granda worked for DeafBlind Service Center and at the Lighthouse for the Blind both as an advocate and teacher. She and Nuccio have been working closely developing a new curriculum to teach Protactile ASL to DeafBlind and sighted people.

– Angela Theriault
A native Canadian who is deafblind, serves as the Executive Director at the DeafBlind Service Center (DBSC) in Seattle, Washington. She has many years of experience providing advocacy services as well as training others and giving presentations. She graduated with a BA in Psychology at Gallaudet University, and also has an MA in Adult Education from Central Michigan University. She is an avid runner and enjoys working out.

– Debra Kahn
I grew up in a family of five children with four brothers; two of them are DeafBlind (DB). I also have two double-first cousins that are DB. I attended the mainstreamed schools up to 8th grade, graduated from Iowa School for the Deaf and from Gallaudet University with a Bachelor’s in Psychology. Currently, I have two grown hearing children that are fluent in ASL.
In 2009 I participated in the National SSP Pilot Program under Jelica Nuccio’s directorship at DeafBlind Service Center (DBSC) by recruiting potential SSPs in the Yakima, WA area to work with the local DB. I’ve worked as a subcontractor with DBSC serving the DB living in the Yakima area as a Communication Facilitator (CF) Coordinator to provide CF services. Currently I’m living in Seattle and working as the SSP Coordinator at DBSC and have provided both group and one-on-one SSP trainings since 2015.

– Diane Poulin
Diane Poulin grew up in Maine, the Northeast corner of the United States. She is the mother of two grown sons (CODBAs), the only girl of six children, she has 5 brothers. Two of her brothers are also DB. In 1982 she graduated from NTID with a major in photography. She then moved to Texas for a job in a photo lab but after a year moved back to Maine where she worked for 16 years as a postal clerk before retiring.

Diane then moved West to learn more about the DeafBlind World as she identified as DB. She lives in Tacoma, but buses regularly to Seattle where she is very involved in the DB Community, currently serving as Board President for DBSC. She is training as a ‘Deaf mentor’ with a goal to support and help lead DB children.

Her hobbies include macramé, sewing and travel. Aj granda has called her the “queen of crafts”.

– Jelica Nuccio
Jelica Nuccio is one of DeafBlind women who are leading dthe development and are in the forefront of teaching and training ProTactile ASL — the socio-cultural philosophy and linguistic movement currently shaping all DeafBlind practices: linguistics, interpersonal, and politics.

Nuccio originally from Croatia, lives in Seattle and has been very active in the DeafBlind community since she moved from Atlanta, Georgia in 1997. Jelica was the first Deaf-Blind Director of the Seattle Deaf-Blind Service Center (DBSC) and also a co-author of a curriculum for DeafBlind people getting the most out of their Support Service Providers (SSP). She is currently the founder of Tactile Communications which is the training center based on ProTactile philosophy and DeafBlind Education. Prior to this work, Jelica worked variously as a research coordinator, advocate and job-developer. Jelica has a B.A. in Biology from RIT in Rochester, and an M.A. in Public Health from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. For the past 25 years, she has been active in the local and national DeafBlind communities.

– Jeremy Sasser
Jeremy has Ushers, and is profoundly deaf with limited vision.  He was born in California, raised in Oregon and now currently lives in Washington State.  He obtained a degree in Information Technology (IT) from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in New York, and has worked as a software engineer, system administrator, and general IT professional. He is currently working as a freelance trainer for iCanConnect. 

– John Lee Clark
JLC is the author of Where I Stand: On the Signing Community and My DeafBlind Experience (Handtype Press, 2014). His essays and poetry have appeared in many publications, including The Chroncile of Higher Education, Ecotone, McSweeney’s, Poetry, Rattle, The South Carolina Review, and Wordgathering. He is also a nationally recognized Protactile trainer and a certified Braille instructor. He lives in Hopkins, Minnesota, with the artist and author Adrean Clark and their three sons.

– Korian (Koko) Thomas
Dallas, Texas native
DeafBlind POC
Bachelor’s in Social Work (2003) from Gallaudet
Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling (2006) from University of North Texas
Master’s in Public Administration (2015) from Gallaudet
Worked more than 15 years in multicultural areas
Currently working as a DeafBlind Employee Support Service Coordinator

– Nancy Sommer
Nancy Sommer is a native of Denver, Colorado.  She has Usher Syndrome Type 1 and a sister who also has Usher Type I. She grew up in mainstream schools with deaf programs and went on to graduate from NTID with a Business certificate in 1985. After NTID she moved to Seattle for another year of college studying the use of computers, getting a certificate in Word processing. 
Nancy worked as the SSP Coordinator at the DeafBlind Services Center  for 5 years and taught Independent Living at the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. for 8 years. 
Nancy is a Past President of the Washington State DeafBlind Citizens (WSDBC) has served on other boards for many years, and is currently chairing a committee to document the history of the WSDBC and the DeafBlind Community in Seattle. Her hobbies include crafts, walking, and biking.

– Oscar Chacon
I was born in Chicago, IL in 1979. Graduated from Hinsdale South High in 1997. I got Associate’s in 2007. I attended Gallaudet University 2008-2010. I participated in ProTactile workshop presented by Jelica and aj in April 2016. I worked as research assistant in 2016 with Professor Terra Edwards working on linguistics of PTASL. I attended Tactile Communications from January to March, 2017. I joined Seattle LH as DeafBlind Computer and Assistive Technology Instructor on Oct. 30, 2017. I also taught PTASL classes at LH as a contractor with TC in the summer and fall of 2017.

– Roger Poulin
Roger Poulin (brother to Diane) has Usher Syndrome, Type 1. He began his education at the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf in Maine. In 1994, he earned a Bachelors degree in Computer Information Systems from Gallaudet University. After graduating from Gallaudet, he worked for the Federal Government as a Computer Programmer for 15 years, before retiring. He then decided to have an adventure, and set a challenge for himself to hike the Appalachian Trail (AT) which is 2,180 miles from the state of Georgia, up the Appalachian Mountains, north to Maine. After this journey through the AT, he was offered a job at the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc, and in 2013 he moved to Seattle where he currently works as an Adaptive Technology Instructor. In 2016 he married Samantha Smith with whom he recently purchased a new home south of Seattle where they will live with their two dogs, Tully and Tickle.

– Rojelio (Roy) Rios
Roy Rios grew up in Texas, attending the school for the Deaf in Austin. He has two brothers and two sisters who were also DB. After graduating from school, Roy got a job working at a Pizza parlor spinning and tossing the dough, and baking pizzas. In the early 1980s, as his vision began to worsen, he moved up to Seattle for a job at the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind.
Roy was a founding member of the Washington State DeafBlind Citizens (WSDBC) and remains a faithful member. In Seattle he met his first wife Marilyn, and had a son Rojelio Junior (Jr.). They bought a house on Capitol Hill, but sadly, Marilyn passed away. Roy later married Gwen and they had a little girl Sharice.
After many years at the Lighthouse, Roy has now retired. He lives on Capitol Hill with his son Junior, and spends his time doing upkeep on his house, and attending Community events. He is exceptionally talented at creating clay objects and is very excited about the present opportunity to work with the Seattle Parks Department to express himself and his art using clay.

– Sarah Morrison
Sarah Morrison, holds a Masters degree in Deaf Education from RIT. Currently, she’s attending Lamar University in a doctoral program in Deaf Studies/Education, as well as working part-time as a freelance consultant. Sarah has a passion for being engaged with the DeafBlind community, for running, biking, yoga, hiking, and any physical activities as well as her studies.

Sarah has always been physically active, completing her first half marathon when she was 18 years old. Through amazing role models, she has discovered a new found passion for triathlons. Last year, she went to the Olympic Training Center, outside of San Diego, to train with other blind athletes, after which she completed the International Triathlon Union Championships, where she then qualified for the nationals. She recently completed another half marathon in Texas. Yoga has also been a great addition to her training! She’s always been the type of person to be on the go and always up for new challenges. More importantly, she doesn’t let anything stop her from leading an active lifestyle!

– Yashaira Romilus
Yashaira “Yash” Romilus proudly identifies herself as DeafBlind Latinx. Yash was born and raised in a hearing family in West Chester, PA. She studied Social Work at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. She has experience in different roles as a PTASL research assistant, PT trainer, PTASL Instructor and PT actress. She currently works as the Deafblind Community Class/Retreat Team Staff at Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind. Her personal motto is, “A simple touch electrifies happiness.”

– Allies: Allie Joiner, Ellie Savidge, Holly Delcambre, Theresa Smith
Allie Joiner, Holly Delcambre, Ellie Savidge and Theresa Smith have all been long-time supporters and activists in the Deaf, Women’s, and DeafBlind Communities, working for social justice. Allie is currently an advocate for senior DeafBlind people at DBSC, Ellie is working as a CDI and consultant in the Seattle area, Holly works for the City of Seattle as the ADA Title II Coordinator, and Theresa is a retired interpreter educator.