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Welcome to the New Board Members!

New members provide critical perspectives from all over Minnesota

7/22/2019 10:00:03 AM

Clockwise from top left: Maisie Blaine, Christine Morgan, Trish Oyaas, Peggy Nelson, Les Fairbanks, and Krista Nelson

Please join us in welcoming our new board members! We are excited to announce Maisie Blaine, Christine Morgan, Trish Oyaas, Krista Dillman, and Les Fairbanks were appointed by Governor Tim Walz for board membership! We are also happy to announce that Peggy Nelson has been reappointed. 

All are warmly welcomed by the veteran board members and MNCDHH staff. Board Chair Michele Isham said,

"Thanks to the board, old and new, for their continued commitment to increasing accessibility and equal opportunity for the deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing communities in Minnesota!"

Three seats remain unfilled, which we hope will change soon. The unfilled seats are all in Greater Minnesota: Northwest (Moorhead) Advisory Council, Southwest Rep, and West Central Rep. Individuals serving in these seats must also be a member of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (DHHSD) regional office advisory committee in their area. 

Maisie Blaine, Northeast Representative (Term ends: 1/2/2025)

Maisie Blaine is the NE Regional Ombudsman for Long Term Care in Minnesota. She serves 5 counties in Northeastern MN including Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake and Northern and Southern St. Louis. Maisie holds both a Bachelors and Master’s Degree in Social Work and is licensed as an Independent Clinical Social Worker in the State of Minnesota. Prior to coming to the Office of Ombudsman, Maisie worked in Mental Health, the County System, and Long Term Care settings.  In her capacity with the Office of Ombudsman for Long Term Care Maisie serves individuals receiving Long Term Care services in the state of MN to provide advocacy and oversight and ensure quality care. 

Maisie is in her second term as a Board Member on the NE Advisory Committee. She has served since November of 2014. In her career, she has had the opportunity to work with both clients who are culturally deaf or deafblind and those who are experiencing age-related hearing or sight loss. She hopes that her membership can bring value to the Commission and that she can serve as a liaison to bring the voices of those in North East Minnesota to the Commission to continue to enhance their work for those that are Deaf, Deafblind or Hard of Hearing in Minnesota.

“I feel that it is important for me to serve on the board to give voice to those in NE Minnesota who are Deaf, DeafBlind or experiencing Age-Related Hearing Loss.” ~ Maisie Blaine

Christine Morgan, Metro Advisory Council Representative (Term ends: 1/2/2025)

Christine Morgan has adult-onset hearing loss due to an auto-immune disease and wears two cochlear implants. She received her Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of Minnesota and worked for 30 years managing various medical groups first in New Jersey, and since the early 1980s, in Minnesota.

In 2011, Christine “retired” from administration due to her progressive hearing loss. She would then put all her focus and efforts on advocating for people with hearing loss. Christine is the President of the Hearing Loss Association of America – Twin Cities Chapter and a certified Hearing Loss Support Specialist. She also sits on several Advisory Committees related to hearing loss in the Twin Cities. Christine is a hearing loss coach for people with hearing loss and a trainer for both businesses and communication partners to assist them in improving communication with people with hearing loss. Christine also owns and teaches at Balanced Life Tai Chi with her husband, Lionel (also a Hearing Loss Specialist and Certified Tai Chi Instructor).

“I am excited to have a position on the Commission. I encounter so many people with hearing loss who aren’t aware that there are resources and support available to them. Many suffer in silence and lead less than full lives. I also advocate with live theater and other venues to be sure that they offer appropriate equipment and services to those with hearing loss. We (HLAA-TC) try to get the word out and to reach as many people as we can but the need is great and alone one organization cannot reach all those in need. Combining our efforts is vital!” ~ Christine Morgan

Tricia (Trish) Oyaas, At-Large Member (Term ends: 1/2/2025)

At three years old, Trish was diagnosed as hard of hearing. As an adult, Trish attended the University of Minnesota-Duluth and obtained two bachelor’s degrees in Psychology (B.A.S.) and Political Science (B.A.) in 2015 and her Masters of Social Work (MSW) in 2017. She currently works at the University of Wisconsin – Superior in the Admissions Office. She aspires to work with students that have differing abilities in higher education so that they have access to college and support while they're in college. In Trish's spare time she volunteers with men’s restorative justice. 

"I am honored and excited to serve on the committee and to serve Minnesotans in getting access to technology and resources. I want every person to feel supported in their community and to know they have a voice." ~ Trish Oyaas

Krista Dillman, At-Large Member (Term ends: 1/2/2025)

Krista M. Dillman has been interpreting for over 25 years. She has a Master of Science degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and is a candidate for her doctorate degree in Higher Education Administration. Her dissertation research is on the importance of social integration of D/deaf and hard-of-hearing students in higher education and students’ decision to persist to graduation. Her interpreting credentials include the NAD IV, CI and CT, SC:L, SLPI:ASL-Superior, NIC-Master, and Oral Transliterating Certificate.

Krista is also married into a family with both culturally Deaf and culturally deaf members and mother to D/deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing children. The importance of meeting the needs of individuals with varying levels of hearing and differing communication modes is a common consideration in her everyday life and she looks forward to the challenge of working as a board member.

“I wanted to serve on the board to advocate for service provision and equal access for deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing people across Minnesota, whether they choose to use sign language or not. Having worked with Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals for over 25 years and living with a family with D/deaf and hard of hearing members using a variety of assistive technologies and communication modes, no one mode can be preferred over another. Each individual has the right to communicate and access their environment in a way they choose.” ~ Krista Dillman

Les Fairbanks, Upper Northwest Representative (Term ends: 1/2/2025)

Les Fairbanks is excited to serve on the board to make positive changes for the deaf community! Les graduated in Minnesota School for the Deaf (now the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf) in 1979 and graduated from post-secondary schools in 1985. He worked in different facilities for years before becoming an Over the Road driver for 15 years and retiring in 2017. Les hails from the White Earth Reservation, where he is an enrolled elder. 

"I am overly excited to be on the Board, knowing I can make a real impact, serving and representing my peers around and in the Upper Northwest Region." ~ Les Fairbanks

Peggy Nelson, At-Large Member, Vice Chair (Term ends: 1/2/2025)

Peggy Nelson, Ph.D. is a professor of audiology in the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences at the University of Minnesota, where she has taught and conducted NIH-funded research since 2000.  Her research focuses on hearing loss and the problems of understanding speech in noise by a variety of populations, including children in schools, second-language learners, hearing aid users, and cochlear implant listeners. She is currently the founding director of the University of Minnesota’s new Center for Applied and Translational Sensory Science (CATSS). There she oversees interdisciplinary research in vision, hearing, balance, and tinnitus.   As Center director, Professor Nelson and colleagues have engaged the community in a discussion of sensory loss and sensory aids. Dr. Nelson served on the EHDI Advisory Board for 10 years and served on the US Access Board committee that developed acoustic guidelines for schools. Over the years, she has testified for the Commission on many different pieces of legislation. Fun fact: she used to be a certified sign language interpreter.

"I serve on the board because I believe engaging with the community is essential for understanding sensory loss and its effects. I am eager to share information about cross-disciplinary research related to the development of devices and strategies key to approaching sensory loss, and plan to especially focus on age-related hearing loss." ~ Dr. Peggy Nelson


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