DBCA Executive Team
Amita Srinivasan is a rising junior at the University of Texas at Austin dual majoring in Psychology and Human Dimensions of Organization. Amita is passionately interested in inclusion, empowerment and accessibility for students with disabilities. She is the current President of DeafBlind Citizens in Action, a national disability rights nonprofit organization in the USA. She joined DBCA in 2017 and became a mentor and the interim Secretary in 2018. As President, Amita has focused on the need for reliable, safe and accessible transportation as key to increasing wellbeing and participation of the deafblind community in society and in the labor force.
Amita is active in the UT Student Government, currently serving as an Academic Policy Director (2019) and has also previously served as a director of the Disability and Inclusion Agency (2018). Amita works as a VSFS intern at the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, where she analyzes regional legal systems, specializing in South and Central Asia, in order to identify openings in the legal and policy frameworks by cataloging gaps in policy/laws and comparing them to best practices standards that uphold fundamental freedoms of persons with disabilities. She is also on the Disability Advisory Committee at the FCC.
Amita is an author/blogger who has won awards for nature and macro photography. Some of her photographs can be seen at Ami Fine Art Photography.
Divya Goel joined DBCA in 2009. As Vice President, she is a mentor and guide to all the younger DBCA members. She became passionately interested in advocacy and governmental policy after meeting President Obama in the White House. Divya has a rare Type 3 HARS Usher Syndrome. She is profoundly deaf and has a cochlear implant. She attended the Florida School for Deaf and Blind where she participated and won three beauty pageants. Divya not only graduated with a special diploma from the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind but in fact, following that she also earned a standard diploma from a public high school by completing 24 credits in 2 and half years. She also signed the half time song performed by Grammy Award winning musician, Alicia Keys at Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, Florida in 2005. In November 2009, Divya headed to Uganda, Africa to attend the Helen Keller World Conference where she advocated and spoke for the rights of women and children with vision and hearing loss. After completing her Associates Degree in Arts from the Valencia Community College in 2016, Divya currently works as a mentor and facilitator at Transition Institute of the Southwest Region and Helen Keller National Center. In summer 2018, Divya and her partner Jeremy Best, who is also a DBCA member, got engaged. Their dream is to one day speak at the United Nations to help better understand the needs of the Deafblind community and build a more accessible world.
George Stern is a 27 year old student and advocate currently residing in Lubbock, Texas, pursuing a major in French and a minor in Classics at Texas Tech University (TTU). George hopes to apply these studies into a career in law or with the Library of Congress, so he can help ensure access to the treasury of human knowledge for all people.
George has served as President of the Texas Tech Judo and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu club, Vice President of Deafblind Citizens in Action, Board Member for the CAT-SI (Collaboration and Assistive Technology for Students with Sensory Impairments) program through TTU’s Sowell center, and is seriously one of the better cooks in the country!
George was born in Jamaica, a land of many wonderful things but not of opportunity, especially for people with disabilities. George left Jamaica when he was 2 years old after an initial misdiagnosis for pinkeye was revised to be bilateral retinal blastoma, a cancer beyond the capacity of George’s home country to treat. The operation to remove the cancer was successfully completed at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of Miami, Florida, leaving George blind and alive. George’s bilateral hearing loss, which doctors think stems from a chromosomal abnormality, did not manifest until he started pre-K, which is when he first wore hearing aids.
George’s life, first as a blind, and now as a deafblind person, has been guided by a few immutable tenets. First, “Do unto others as you would be done unto.” Second – and this comes from his father – “Labor for learning before you grow old, for learning is better than silver or gold. Silver and gold will vanish away, but a good education will never decay.”
Learning is George’s passion and, consequently, language has become his preoccupation. “I speak, therefore others know that I am,” is an idea at the center of George’s drive for fluency in as many languages and modalities as possible, both for himself and for others
Maricar Marquez is the supervisor of Independent Living Department at Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC) in Sands Point, New York. Born in the Philippines and raised in Canada, Ms. Marquez was diagnosed with Usher syndrome characterizing a hearing loss and a progressive vision loss caused by retinitis pigmentosa. Ms. Marquez earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts in 1994 and a master’s degree in Administration in 1997 from Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. She also earned a certificate in Deaf-Blindness Rehabilitation in 2010 from Northern Illinois University.
Ms. Marquez has presented on a national and international level on an array of topics including touch signals, Haptics Communications, support service providers, independent living skills, advocacy for individuals who are deaf-blind. Ms. M Her most recent presentation was held at a panel discussion on family and partnership at the DeafBlind International conference in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Ms. Marquez presented at a panel discussion hosted by Perkins International at the United Nations Conference for States, Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Peron’s with Disabilities in New York. Ms. Marquez is a co-author of Possibilities –Recreational Experiences of Individuals who are Deaf-Blind, and Haptic Communication: The American Edition of the Original. Ms. Marquez has taught the community and cultural aspects of DeafBlind people in a graduate level in an online certificate program in Deaf-Blind Rehabilitation at Northern Illinois University.
Ms. Marquez has worked at HKNC since 1997 and has been in different capacities including providing rehabilitation training to individuals who are deaf-blind communication strategies, braille literacy and independent living skills. In her current position, Ms. Marquez has supervised instructors and provided individualized evaluation and instruction in areas of independent living. Ms. Marquez served on the board of directors for American Association of the Deaf-Blind from 2007-2011. Ms. Marquez has been an advocate in a local Deaf-Blind community in New York City and Long Island.
DBCA Board of Directors
Dr. Amy Parker
Ms. Suzanne Ressa-Guerin
Melissa Hays, Coordinator of Interpreters and SSPs
Kat Peters, Coordinator of Volunteers
Jacob Hogan, Moodle, Web and Communications Support