Guest Bios

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Guest Bios

Dr. Gene Bratt

Dr. Gene Bratt is the Chief of the Audiology and Speech Pathology Service at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Tennessee Valley Healthcare System in Nashville. He received his doctorate in audiology from Vanderbilt University in 1980, and has since been a clinical audiologist at the VA in Nashville. He is has been a funded investigator for most of his tenure with the VA, with research interests in the selection and fitting of hearing aids. He has published his findings and those of his research group on several occasions in professional journals, and has been an invited speaker internationally. He is also an associate professor of audiology at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine where his teaching interests have centered about clinical audiology and pathologies of the auditory system.

Dr. Jack J. Wazen

Dr. Jack J. Wazen, MD FACS Otologist-Neurotologist & Surgeon, Silverstein Institute Director of Research, Ear Research Foundation 

Internationally Recognized Otologist- Neurotologist & Surgeon Over 20 years experience as a practitioner, professor and researcher. Silverstein Institute - Sarasota Ear Research Foundation - Sarasota Columbia University - New York Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center -New York 

Author, "Dizzy – What You Need to Know About Managing & Treating Balance Disorders" Drummer, "Doc & the Earignals", jazz band that performs and has made 10 CDs to support the Ear Research Foundation

Dr. Rob Jackler

Dr. Jackler was raised in Waterville, Maine, attended college and medical school in Boston, and moved west to the University of California, San Francisco for residency in Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. After taking a Neurotology fellowship at the House Ear Clinic (1985), Dr. Jackler joined the faculty at UCSF where he remained until 2003 when he became the Sewall Professor and Chair of the Department at OHNS and professor in the departments of Neurosurgery and Surgery at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Dr. Jackler is an otologist-neurotologist who specializes in complex ear diseases. He has a special interest in tumors of the lateral and posterior cranial base and has written numerous analytical papers derived from his microsurgical series. A long standing collaboration with medical artist Chirstine Gralapp has produced over 1500 original illustrations of a wide variety of cranial base and ear microsurgical approaches ( For over 25 years Dr. Jackler has directed a fellowship program in neurotology and skull base surgery which has trained a number of academic leaders in the field.

Dr. Jackler has authored over 150 peer reviewed papers, over 35 textbook chapters, numerous editorials, published three books: Neurotology (1994, 2004), Atlas of Neurotology & Skull Base Surgery (1996, 2008), and Tumors of the Ear and Temporal Bone (2000). Dr. Jackler leads the Stanford Initiative to Cure Hearing Loss whose mission is to create biological cures for major forms of inner ear hearing loss through a research effort that is sustained, large-scale, multidisciplinary, focused, goal-oriented, and transformational (

Dusty Jessen, Au.D.

Dusty Jessen has been an audiologist in a busy ENT practice for more than 12 years. In 2013 she wrote and published a handbook (Frustrated by Hearing Loss? 5 Keys to Communication Success) to help people cope with the challenges related to hearing loss. This book is being used by hearing care professionals around the country.  Dr. Jessen is passionate about providing a fun and simple way for people to learn and practice strategies that are essential for communication success.

Ellen Beer

Ellen Beer recently joined Cochlear Americas as a Consumer Marketing Manager, where she contributes her own recipient insights and marketing experience. She is an active member of the Cochlear Community, a network of recipients who share their hearing journeys together worldwide.

Esther Kelly

Author and award winning speaker, Esther Kelly, has developed and implemented numerous programs designed to meet the unique needs of her clients, presenting her acclaimed “Hearing Loss in Action – Beyond Methodology” to countless groups, organizations and community colleges. Ms. Kelly has given many workshops at Hearing Loss Association of America National Conventions.  Among her books, videos and DVDs are, “A Sign Signals Manual”,  and her award winning video, “You Should Hear What You Are Missing”. Her most recent 6-DVD series, “Solutions for People with Hearing Loss in Career and Education Environments,” is a contemporary classic utilized by Texas Vocational Assistive and Rehabilitative Services and available at all Texas Public Libraries. 

Esther Kelly runs a Hearing Loss Program and Technology Center at Deaf Action Center in Dallas Texas and serves as a Hearing Loss Resource Specialist for the Texas Office for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services.  Esther is a tireless advocate for the Hard of Hearing and Late-Deafened.   Having lived with hearing loss from the time she was a child, and the recipient of a successful cochlear implant, Esther has life experience that has given her insight in the needs of those with hearing loss.


Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, actor and public speaker who grew up with a progressive hearing loss that is now severe-to-profound. She is a director on the national board of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association and runs The Hearing Foundation of Canada’s award-winning Sound Sense hearing awareness program for elementary students across Canada. As a passionate advocate for people with hearing loss, her work includes speechreading instruction, hearing awareness workshops for youth and adults, and sensitivity training for corporations and community groups. 

Gael is a sought-after speaker for her humorous and insightful performances about hearing loss, including her signature shows Unheard Voices and EarRage! She has received several awards for her work, including the Consumer Advocacy Award from the Canadian Association of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists.

Jane R. Madell, Ph.D., CCC-A/SLP, Cert AVT

Jane R. Madell, Ph.D., CCC-A/SLP, Cert AVT is a renowned audiologist, educator, mentor and advocate. Her pioneering work in audiology, pediatric audiology, licensure and professional development has spanned four decades and lifted the field of audiology to the heights it is today. Her clinical practice and research include evaluation and management of hearing in infants and young children, management of hearing loss in children with severe and profound hearing loss, selection and management of amplification including hearing aids, cochlear implants and FM systems, assessment of auditory function, and evaluation and management of auditory processing disorders.

Joan Haber

Joan Haber, former HLAA Board of Trustee; secretary of HLAA Sarasota Chapter; 2010 Rocky Stone Humanitarian Award recipient; attending her 18th consecutive HLAA Convention in 2016.

John Kinstler

John Kinstler was born profoundly deaf in both ears with 80/90dB hearing loss in both of ears and he has bilateral cochlear implants. John was raised orally using hearing aids and learned American Sign Language at the age of 18. After college, John worked as a professional deaf actor/director with three different deaf theatre companies including Sunshine Too, National Theatre of the Deaf and Cleveland Signstage Theatre. He enjoys doing stand-up comedy whenever he can.

John has worked in the telecommunication industry for more than 20 years and is currently the CapTel Outreach Marketing Manager for Ultratec, Inc.

John has been a long-time advocate for people with hearing loss. He is the president of the HLAA-Madison Chapter. He is passionate in educating people with hearing loss about products and services that are available for them.