Board Members

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Board Members

James C. Saunders, Ph.D.

Dr. Saunders is Professor of Research Otolaryngology, Physiology and Neuroscience at the Perlman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania.  He received his B.A. in Psychology from Ohio Wesleyan University; an M.A. in Experimental Psychology from Connecticut College; and  Ph.D. in Sensory Psychology from Princeton University in 1968.  He has held appointments at Monash University, Australia, and the Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis.  In 1973 he joined the Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Human Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and served as Director of Auditory Research until 2007. He serves on the Editorial Board of Hearing Research, and is a member of the Medical Advisory Board of the National Organization for Hearing Research and the Council of Scientific Trustees of the Hearing Health Foundation (formerly the Deafness Research Foundation).

Dr. Saunders has published extensively on topics in hearing research that range in scope from the mechanics of middle ear function, the consequences of exposure to intense sound, the structural organization and micro-mechanics of hair cell stereocilia, and most recently the properties of neural coding in the peripheral and central auditory pathways. Recognition of his research efforts includes the Claude Pepper for research excellence from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). 

 Dr. Saunders is currently a Professor Emeritus and lives outside Philadelphia. He was appointed to the HLAA Board of Trustees in November 2011.

Nancy Lelewer Sonnabend

Nancy Lelewer Sonnabend first became acquainted with SHHH (now HLAA) through her parents as her mother was profoundly hard of hearing and served on the national board of trustees for nine years. This brought Nancy in contact with founder Rocky Stone and his wife Ahme, and she also attended several of the early conferences. Later Nancy became deaf in her left ear and profoundly hard of hearing in her right ear. 

Nancy graduated Sarah Lawrence College in 1957 and was a member of the Smith College exchange program in Madrid from 1955-1956. Her diverse background includes inventor; researcher at MIT and Harvard Medical School; founding director of Permobil of Americal, (today renamed USA Permobil) the world’s leading computerized wheelchair company; lecturer; writer and specialty in dyslexia and other learning differences. She currently has two books on the market: SOMETHING’S NOT RIGHT: One family’s struggle with learning disabilities and THE LELEWER LEGACY, Traditions of a Loving Family. Nancy has served on several boards and chaired two of them. 

Nancy lives in Boston, MA, has four grown children and eight grandchildren. She was appointed to the HLAA Board of Trustees in June 2010. 

Committees:  Ms. Sonnabend serves on the Fund Raising Committee.

Valerie Stafford-Mallis

Valerie is the Business Development Manager for Alternative Communication Services (ACS) LLC.  Prior to joining ACS, she served as Health Educator Consultant for the Florida Coordinating Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (FCCDHH). Valerie is an oral, late-deafened adult who uses bi-lateral cochlear implants. She also utilizes many other types of assistive technology in her activities of daily living. As a person who lost her hearing while she was still in the workforce, Valerie has experienced first-hand the struggles faced by all persons with disabilities to maintain employment, independence and full-participation in public-life. 

Valerie conducts trainings and advises and educates public and private organizations on methods that improve communication access for persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened, and deaf-blind. She has presented widely at the national, state, and local level to conventions, professional associations, continuing education organizations, employers, healthcare providers, law enforcement and public safety organizations, and businesses. She also provided subject matter expertise by serving on a number of state councils, commissions, and task forces in Florida.

Valerie is active in the deaf and hard of hearing community. She was appointed to the  HLAA Board of Trustees in May 2013 and serves on the board of trustees of the Sarasota Chapter. She is a member of the Association of Late-Deafened Adults and chairs the Outreach Committee. She was nominated by Communication Access Inc. for its 2013 Hearing Loss Advocate of the Year. She also supports the Humane Society of Manatee County. 

Alyssa Terk, M.D.

Dr. Alyssa Terk specializes in treating infants, children and adolescents with medical and surgical diseases of the ear, nose, and throat. She has particular interest in airway disorders, otitis media, hearing loss, ear infections, voice disorders, obstructive sleep apnea, tonsillitis and sinus diseases.

Dr. Terk received her medical degree from New York University School of Medicine and completed her internship and residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut where she also served as Chief Resident. Dr. Terk was then an attending otolaryngologist at Pediatric Otolaryngology, LLC.

Dr. Terk was a fellow in Pediatric Otolaryngology at A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children in Delaware and most recently joined the Section of Otolaryngology at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. She is board-certified in Otolaryngology and is an active member of the America Academy of Otolaryngology.

She has hereditary progressive sensorineural hearing loss and has worn bilateral hearing aids since age 18 and now has bilateral cochlear implants (the first in 2009, the second in 2011).

Dr. Terk was appointed to the HLAA Board of Trustees in November 2011.