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Two Board Members Appointed to MNCDHH

Welcome Ryan Odland and Brenda Hommerding

7/10/2020 3:12:46 PM

MNCDHH is pleased to announce the appointment of Ryan Odland and Brenda Hommerding to our board. Their appointments were announced by the Office of Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan on June 30, 2020.

"Having Ryan and Brenda join our board will bring fresh new perspective and energy,  said Executive Director Darlene Zangara. "Ryan's background in vocational rehabilitation, combined with Dr. Mohamed Mourssi Alfash's knowledge in disability employment, gives us a really strong knowledge base for addressing employment issues in the deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing community. Ryan is also a  strong deafblind advocate and I am excited he will help us reduce communication access barriers for DeafBlind and Speaking DeafBlind Minnesotans. Brenda Hommerding, thanks to her personal experience in a multi-generational family with hearing loss and her work with Minnesota Hands & Voices, will give us more connection families and children and increase our ability to address any systemic barriers they experience. We are excited for Brenda's knowledge to join our parent representative, Krista Dillman, in this endeavor." 

Meet Ryan and Brenda below:

Ryan Odland headshot Ryan Odland, At-Large Member (Term ends: 1/1/2024)

Ryan Odland currently works as a Regional Representative for the North Central region with Helen Keller National Center. Ryan previously worked as a vocational rehabilitation counselor with Minnesota State Services for the Blind. Ryan, who is DeafBlind with Usher Syndrome Type 1, is a proud husband and father of two young children. He holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Rochester Institute of Technology and a master's degree in special education from Gallaudet University. Ryan is working towards his second master's degree in rehabilitation counseling from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. As a board member, Ryan brings a wealth of knowledge and firsthand perspective on accessibility, community resources, and vocational rehabilitation. He strives to advocate for deaf-blind awareness and program development at local, state, and national levels.

“[A] board is not the only platform, but one of many mediums, to present your concerns, ideas and recommendations towards enhancing programs and services for all. That is why I am here to support MNCDHH with its initiatives and to create new opportunities alongside with Minnesota DeafBlind community.” ~ Ryan Odland

Brenda Hommerding headshot Brenda Hommerding, West Central Representative (Term ends: 1/1/2024)

Brenda has recently joined the West Central DHHS Advisory Board. Even though she lives in Rice, MN with her husband, Lynn, she has served on the Central MN DHHS board in the past for 10 years. She feels the experience of living and connecting with so many in Greater Minnesota will allow her to support the West Central region too. Brenda has worked for over 14 years with Minnesota Hands & Voices serving as the Central Parent Guide, Lead Outstate Parent guide, and now has been the Guide By Your Side Manager for the past 3 years. Brenda’s professional experience includes working with families to help them on their journey with their children who have been identified with a hearing difference. Brenda also works with numerous professionals across the state and the United States to help better systems, bring awareness of hearing issues, and to strongly advocate for all who are deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind. Brenda strives to be a strong leader and continues to work with all of MNHV’s staff to be stronger leaders in their respective regions.

Brenda’s personal experience includes growing up and living with deaf grandparents; being exposed to the deaf community; finding out that she herself is hard of hearing at the age of 16; has used a variety of communication and technology options; raised twin girls, both with different levels of hearing; and now has a grandson that is deaf. Brenda has been a part of 4 different generations of deafness and hearing levels which has all posed their challenges. By surviving the challenges through each generation her passion is to help other families advocate and be prepared for any situation that arises.

“I am thrilled to serve on the MNCDHH board which will allow me to bring issues from families across the state to the forefront and to help advocate so everyone has equal access to language regardless of their communication and/or technology choices.” – Brenda Hommerding

There are still two open seats; one seat is for a Northwest Representative and one seat is for a Southwest Representative. 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. 

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