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Finalists Announced: MNCDHH's Executive Director Position

Meet the finalists and learn what happens next

8/15/2019 12:30:13 PM

The Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing (MNCDHH) is pleased to share that our Executive Director Search and Interview committees have selected three incredible finalists for the Executive Director position. 

The finalists will go through one more round of interviews before the interview committee submits their recommendations to the Commission's board. The board will then vote and make the final hiring decision. 

If you have any questions about the selection process, please email

This is an exciting time in the Commission's life. We are very close to selecting an Executive Director who will lead us into a new chapter of statewide advocacy and change for all of our stakeholders; people who are deaf, deafblind, hard of hearing, their families, school professionals, service providers, partner agencies, community organizations, legislators and policymakers, and more.

It is our great pleasure to announce the finalists below. Please join the Commission in congratulating the finalists for reaching this point of the interview process. We would also like to thank them for providing their photos and biographies for this announcement. 

E. David Dively

E. David Dively headshot 

E. David Dively is a passionate, dedicated, and driven servant leader with years of experience in both California and Minnesota as a devoted public servant. Born into a deaf family, Dively was raised in Minnesota and became hard of hearing by the time he had reached thirty years old. As no stranger to the effects that deafness and losing your hearing can have on an individual, Dively dedicated his life towards public policy and government advocacy, where he continues to work each and every day as the Deputy Director of the Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing.

For Dively, nothing is more important to him than offering the compassionate advocacy that he believes every last person deserves, in addition to bringing steadfast leadership, guidance, and administration to MNCDHH. As a life-long learner, Dively is constantly prioritizing his direct-reports, colleagues, and supervisors to ensure that everyone around him is empowered to do their best work, both individually and collaboratively. And in the words of Nelson Mandela, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” 

As a steady and consistent leader, Dively remains driven by the mission of MNCDHH, as well as his own personal upbringing and life experiences. Remaining steadfast in his dedication towards advocating for effective government policy that positively enhances the lives of those who live are Deaf, DeafBlind, or hard of hearing, Dively continues to build relationships with others. Endlessly working with the local community, outside organizations, and state government entities to further the mission of MNCDHH and ensure that all people have equal access in education, employment, and services. In a career that has spanned over 10 years in leadership positions in for-profit, non-profit, and public sector organizations, Dively has achieved a number of major victories. In the 2019 legislative session, Dively was the lead advocate for a bill to mandate that health insurance providers in the state of Minnesota should be required to cover hearing aids. As passionate and as driven as they come, E. David Dively is the epitome of a public leader.

Jessica Kennedy

Jessica Kennedy Headshot 

Jessica Kennedy is a Deaf lawyer. For the past ten years, she has advocated on behalf of Minnesotans from protected classes, including people with disabilities. Currently, she is the Deputy General Counsel and Policy Director at MNsure.

Kennedy joined MNsure in 2012 as part of the business leadership team that helped build a new state agency. In her role, she manages MNsure’s Accessibility and Equal Opportunity office, and the dispute resolution office. As the Policy Director, she’s participated in MNsure’s legislative sessions advising leadership on testimony, analyzing potential legislation, writing bills, and proposing new policy ideas. Kennedy also provides legal advice where applicable. Before MNsure, she worked in the legal office at the Minnesota Department of Human Services. In her ten years of public service, she has learned how to get things accomplished in state government, and that community stakeholders and transparency are critical to success.

Starting her first job at age 14, Kennedy learned the value of bringing a team mentality to the workplace. She manages a team of six and is close to her colleagues. Kennedy’s team has said they appreciate that she encourages them to bring their whole self to work, and is always there to support them. In no particular order, Kennedy’s work is fueled by passion and inspiration, coffee, humor, and collaboration. Kennedy is also an active member of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Bar Association, a mom to two young daughters, and a certified yoga teacher. 

Darlene Zangara, Ph.D.

Darlene Zangara headshop 

Darlene Zangara, Ph.D. has a storied career in leadership roles in the fields of human services, advocacy, and public awareness. Most recently, she is serving as the Executive Director of the Olmstead Implementation Office with the State of Minnesota and has been there for just over five years. She has provided professional support and services to many organizations, leaders and communities. Zangara is not only a staunch advocate for people who are deaf, hard of hearing or deafblind, but she has firsthand knowledge and experience as a person who is deaf. Her experience growing up with deaf parents allowed her to see the complex systems they had to navigate throughout their lives to ensure productive lives.

Zangara’s leadership and administrative work is based on collaborative efforts. This requires her to bring out the best in each of her team members. She sets clear goals and timelines and ensures that each employee contributes towards the success of the division.

The primary motivator in Zangara’s professional life is the personal need to effect growth and improvement in services available to deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing people. She also sees a growing number of people with hearing loss with additional disabilities and are underserved in Minnesota. Zangara will provide the strong and capable leadership and skills required to advance the Commission.


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