LaTanya Jones:

Hello, I’m LaTanya Jones, your new Member-at-Large.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, for coming to Rhode Island for our conference. It was an amazing experience.  Thank you for trusting RID, and for trusting the joint effort between RID and the local Deaf community. I just wanted to share one thing – over 25% of our conference attendees were emerging practitioners.  Thank you for coming and joining us! I also want to point out the large number of presenters who were on the national stage for the first time. There was also huge diversity in the attendees who came to the conference. It was just amazing. The RID Board looks forward to working with you, and partnering with the communities that we serve.  Thank you so much!

Brenda Sellers:

Hello, I’m Brenda Sellers, the Region II Representative for RID.  I just want to tell everybody “Thank you,” for coming to the RID National Conference.  We appreciate that you came, we are appreciative of the #ASLSpace that was there. Our members are very grateful for that.  There was a huge impact on conference attendees. The diversity of presenters and the involvement of the local Deaf community was just wonderful. I was really impressed – thank you for that.  I hope that you all had safe travels going home.

Branton Stewart:

Hello, I’m Branton Stewart, your Deaf-Member-at-Large.

I wanted to provide an update on the RID Strategic Plan, which the Board reviewed during our meeting here in Providence.  This plan was formulated based on recommendations submitted by the membership in Salt Lake City. At that time, the membership identified a number of priorities for RID.  After a number of reviews and revisions, we now have a completed strategic plan. It’s important to remember that this is a living document and it can (and should) be revised as the needs of RID change so that we can adapt.

During the Board meeting in Providence, we reviewed the Strategic Plan, we checked our progress against the plan, and we feel that we are on track. It is a great roadmap for us to continue following.  We did not see the need for any significant revisions.

We are looking forward to the future, to exciting new accomplishments as we continue on RID’s journey.  Thank you!

Kelly Decker:

Hello, I’m Kelly Decker, the new Secretary for RID. I just want to start off by telling you how delighted I am to be a part of this group. Over the course of the past week, we have attended various events in the conference, and then we have had our own Board meeting, where the Board has begun working.  For example, we’ve already set our meeting dates for the next year; this is for both the online meetings and face-to-face meetings. The online meetings will be monthly, typically on the third Wednesday of the month in the evening. If you’re interested in joining the Board meetings, you can, there’s plenty of space in the online meeting room. All you need to do is contact me (secretary@rid.org) prior to the meeting, and I’ll share the link with you.

Face-to-face meetings happen twice a year.  We’ve already scheduled our first face-to-face meeting for the third week of October in Alexandria, Virginia at RID Headquarters. The main topic of that meeting will be the interview for RID’s next CEO. The subsequent face-to-face meeting will be in March. The Board expects to maintain continuous communication with each other, and with the membership.

If you have any questions about scheduling, or the meeting agenda, or anything else, please contact me.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Paul Glaser:

Hello, I’m Paul Glaser, the new RID Vice President.  I’m excited about being on the Board! We’ve already started our work together. One of the topics on our agenda, when we met, was to look at the Committees, Councils, Task Forces, and Member Sections. We looked over the list, and we have appointed Board Liaisons for each volunteer member group. Next we’ll be contacting each group, so look for emails from the Board on that soon.

If you are personally interested in becoming involved with any of these volunteer groups (Committees, Councils, Task Forces and Member Sections) then we’ll be sharing that information soon on that process. We are looking forward to working with you and all of the volunteers in those groups.

Transformation has already begun on the Board – contact us if you have any questions!

Jonathan Webb:

I’m Jonathan Webb, the new RID Board President. I’m excited about the opportunity for you to meet the new Board through video. I’m also glad we have the chance to share about the conference this week, and some of the things that have happened.

The conference was just amazing.  You know that the conference theme was <demonstrates ASL>. “Come” – “Partner” – “Let us begin.”  That theme captures the essence of what we’ve done this week.

<ASL> “Come” we said, and people came from near and far. This year’s conference crowd was a unique group – many different people showed up. Many emerging practitioners – those who are not yet certified – came and joined us and engaged in learning the profession. They, and the others who came, comprised a beautiful group of people – a community.

<ASL> “Partner” – This week, I saw people coming together and forging partnerships and relationships. I saw them committing to working together. This doesn’t mean that we are 100% in agreement on everything – but the power of mature dialogue and discussion, the power of sharing of ideas, the power of questions and thoughtful responses, is just inspiring. I truly saw the spirit of partnership and collaboration this weekend.

The last part of the theme is <ASL> “Let us begin”. People are now leaving, and heading home from the conference. They’re returning to their everyday lives. They’re returning to their Affiliate Chapters to continue their work. I trust that the concepts of “Come together” and “Partner” will go home with them, and be shared and implemented in their Affiliate Chapter. I also trust that it will be carried and shared with the grassroots members of our profession.

We, the Board, are committed to <ASL> “Let us begin”. We’ve set our dates for our Board meetings. We’ve established plans for how we’ll conduct our Board business. I am inspired by this group of people.

As I look back at the conference this week, there are a few things I want to share with you and emphasize.

Evon Black, who is the National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA) President, was our Keynote presenter. She was just fantastic, and made a huge impression on the audience. Her beautiful message, her stories, and the things she shared were inspiring. We also had the opportunity to engage with the audience in a unique way, allowing them to provide input and live feedback during the Keynote presentation.  That was wonderful. Evon even gave all of us a challenge, she encouraged us to “Walk with Purpose.”

I want to share with you that this week as I looked around at the members who joined us for the conference, I felt proud – I am proud that this message was heard and felt by the membership. The membership has already begun to incorporate this “walk with purpose” into their actions.

We had some conference attendees who have been involved in RID for over 40 years. Several of them have come up to me, members of Headquarters staff, or other Board members, and they shared their perception that this conference is different than those in the past. When we asked them, “How is it different?” – they responded that after seeing this conference, they’re ready to go back to their homes and tell their friends and colleagues who are also RID members, “Come back to RID. We are ready.”

This week, I’ve seen so many different groups, so many different faces, different ways of thinking, and different perspectives. We had a wonderful roster of skilled and knowledgeablegable presenters. The content they shared and taught was incredible. 

In my long experience with RID, I have seen more cooperation and unity at this conference than ever before. I am proud to be a member of RID.

The RID Board has had an important role for this conference, this is true. However, I need to be honest with you – it was our Headquarters staff who really rolled up their sleeves and made this conference happen.

Many people work at a job – they show up, they punch in, do their work, they punch out, and go home. Our Headquarters staff is different. I can’t tell you how or why this is the case – I’m still learning about them. I can tell you that I am humbled and honored by their passion and their personal sacrifice.  The leadership of our interim CEO, Charity Warigon, is wonderful. I also want to recognize the calm guidance of Elijah Sow, our Chief Operating Officer. I also have to mention Bill Millios, who built the structure and the vision for this conference. Our Headquarters staff is our most precious resource. Please take the opportunity to reach out and say, “Thank you.”

I want to finish with one last thing. When the group of us, the “slate” decided to run together, it was really just an opportunity for us to build relationships. I’ve been a member of the RID Board, and other boards in the past. Often a variety of people are brought in, and the first Board meeting is spent trying to understand who these people are, and what are their motivations and principles. Forging the ability to work together takes time.

We have been able to accelerate this process. We’ve already forged the relationships and the ability to work together. I personally feel like I’m two years behind; Charity, on the other hand, after seeing the progress that this Board has made over the past few days, informed me that we are about six months ahead of schedule. That’s amazing.

I have confidence that we can do this. We can achieve the goals that RID needs – but we can’t do it alone. This is a member-driven organization. You must also be present and engaged. We want you to be present and engaged. You are us, and we are you. By working together <ASL> “Partner” we can truly create transformation.

Several people have asked me to explain what I mean when I say, “Transformation.” I think for each of us, it means something a little bit different. When you consider the vast geography of the United States and the different locations where our membership lives and works – the needs of people in one corner of the country might be different than people in the opposite corner. Needs change depending on where you are, and where you work. We all have our own individual needs.

I’d like to share my own individual goals (and hopes) for transformation:

  1. I hope we learn to love each other again.
  2. I hope that through that process of learning to love one another, we also have the opportunity to heal.
  3. With that process of learning to love, and the healing, I hope we can more effectively walk with the Deaf community on the path of their liberation.

That’s my personal vision of “transformation.” I hope each member of RID is able to figure out what transformation means to you.

I’m thrilled to be here, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to serve you. I look forward to our <ASL> “Partnering” and <ASL> “Let us begin.”

I love you all.