About the CEO Search Committee

The CEO Search Committee consists of individuals from different backgrounds who are heavily involved in all aspects and contributions to the field of interpreting. This committee has been tasked to set the standards, qualifications and expectations of the next CEO, and through the process of reviewing applicant materials and interviews will select the applicant finalists for the next RID Chief Executive Officer.

Reports to: Board of Directors

Board Liaison: Joshua Pennise

Staff Liaison: Charity Warigon (Interim CEO)

Membership and Stakeholders: Robin Horwitz, Amber Burley, John Serrano, Celeste Owens, Ritchie Bryant,  Manny Hernandez

Frequency of Reports: Weekly

Scope of Work:

  • Element #1: Design and implement a CEO search process
    • a. Recommend an end-to-end, inclusive search process to the Board of Directors
    • b. Complete necessary job description updates
    • c. Conduct first round interview of qualified candidates
    • d. Recommend for the Board of Directors finalist candidates of its consideration
  • Element #2: Cultivate a pool of diverse candidates
    • a. Create a neutral mechanism for the recruitment of a diverse pool of qualified applicants
    • b. Ensure adequate dissemination of the job posting across stakeholder and associated organizations
  • Element #3: Hold stakeholder and member forums as needed to disseminate information and maintain a transparent process.
  • Element #4: Assist the Board of Directors with preparation and negotiation of employment contract if necessary
  • Element #5: Address items referred to the committee by the Board of Directors

Meet the CEO Search Committee members below!

Robin Horwitz co-founded Convo Communications in 2009, with three other Deaf individuals.  Early in the process of creating Convo, the team successfully recruited a highly competent interpreter to interpret thousands of critical conversations with hearing individuals over a span of four years. The presence of effective communication access was a huge game-changer.

Robin credits the company’s success to investing in the quality of interpreters, which appealed to a consumer market long subjected to sub-par interpreting services.  Filling this gap allowed Convo to experience incredible initial growth and created a powerful form of communication access for both the Deaf and hearing communities. This experience led Robin to a profound realization that if all Deaf people had access to communication access through qualified interpreters, they would have equal opportunities to create life-changing innovations for everybody, both Deaf and hearing.  In all, Robin brings to the table 17 years of experience in the interpreting industry, where his bottom line – quality of communication – has not changed.

Robin is also part of the Deaf Owned/Operated Agencies coalition where they share the common agenda of pushing the deaf owned/operated agencies to the front of the interpreting industry. Currently Robin lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, California with his wife Maureen Klusza and 7 year old daughter, Shoshannah.
John Serrano recently completed his second year as the Superintendent of Atlanta Area School for the Deaf, a day school serving over 170 Deaf and Hard of Hearing students in metro Atlanta, Georgia.  Prior to his current position, he worked at the Texas School for the Deaf, serving in various leadership capacities such as the High School Principal and the Director of Academic Affairs.  He attended Gallaudet University, majoring in Elementary Education and Deaf Education. He currently resides in Alpharetta, Georgia with his wife, Melly and three kids, Natalia (11), AJ (10) and Matthew (2).

Ritchie Bryant, CDI, MA, is currently working as CEO and founder of 11X5 LLC. For the past two years, he has been working as an ASL Lecturer at National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID).  For the past two years, he has been working as a freelance interpreter at Gallaudet University. He is a culturally Black Deaf person who is a dynamic and innovative presenter. Mr. Bryant has experience presenting ASL/Deaf-related workshops for the past twenty years. In addition, to interpreting and presenting, he served on the RID board as the Deaf Member at Large from 2015-2017.

Amber Burley, CT, NIC, is an RID nationally certified interpreter since 2008. In 2004, she received her Bachelor’s Degree from Maryville College in Maryville,TN with a double major in American Sign Language Interpreting and ASL/Deaf Studies. Upon graduation she worked as an educational and freelance interpreter in South Carolina for 4 years. She returned to her hometown in Cincinnati to earn her dual Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling from Xavier University. She worked as a mental health clinician serving Deaf children and their families for some time.

Amber has worked a total of 10 years in VRS. She has worked in Puerto Rico, Atlanta, and Cincinnati as a sign language interpreter and then 5 years in management. She has been an adjunct instructor for 8 years teaching interpreting and ASL classes. Currently Amber is an Asst. Professor in the ASL department at the University of Cincinnati School of Education. Amber lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband and daughter. In her spare time she enjoys dance fitness, reading, and travel.

Celeste Owens, NIC, NAD V, a CODA is a New York City native. She is nationally certified with National Association of the Deaf and Registry Interpreters for the Deaf (NIC) certifications. She has interpreted for over 35 years as a freelance interpreter and presently works as a Video Relay interpreter at Sorenson.

Celeste has received many awards and accolades for her involvement and commitment to Black Deaf and Black Interpreters locally and nationally. She served in many positions as founder and President of NYC National Alliance of Black Interpreters, NAOBI as well as Vice President of National NAOBI. Founder and advisor of a recently new group, NYC CODAs of Color. Established to assist CODAs of Color entering the field of Interpreting. Served as Acting Director and Assisting Director for National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA). Also, founder and advisor presently for NYC Deaf & HH Parents Association and Cultural Educational Entertainment Sign Language Network, located in NYC.

Manny Hernandez, better known as MannyASL, is a seasoned ASL storyteller and is very much a natural storyteller for children as well. MannyASL, a Brooklyn native, knows how to establish rapport with children of all ages instantly and make them laugh with his wide eyed antics. He is an expert in translating the text into the ASL register children and adults can understand, especially when he demonstrates links between ASL, the pictures and English print in the book. He also teaches children and adults how to create stories in ASL, one that combines both motion and emotion; how to develop their interest in sharing ASL stories of their own; how to improve their rhythm and clarity of intent. So they can see what the story means making the literacy event more enjoyable. MannyASL created a DVD called Manny ASL: Stories in American Sign Language. MannyASL received his BA and MA in Deaf Studies and Sign Language Education at Gallaudet University. Currently, he teaches ASL at the Catholic University of America and provides advanced workshops in ASL storytelling for children and adults. His motto is “storytelling ignites the power of knowledge.” He lives in Washington DC with his family.

Joshua Pennise, MA, CI and CT, NIC Advanced, is a native of the Virginia coast who calls New York City home. He learned ASL from Deaf friends as a teen and interpreting through mentoring with generous professionals in the field. At eighteen, he passed the RID CI exam, later adding the CT and NIC Advanced. Josh interpreted while attending college at Old Dominion University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in human communication and a master’s degree in applied linguistics with an emphasis on sociolinguistics. During his graduate career, he focused on collecting and examining language samples of Deaf people using ASL who have intellectual disabilities.

Charity Warigon, grew up at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia where six generations of Deaf, oral deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened, and deaf families used all kinds of “languages” to communicate. As a hard-of-hearing person growing up, Charity often provided informal interpreting when dire situations arose and there was no one available to assist deaf individuals in the area. She also pursued RID’s provisional Reverse Sign Communication (RSC) certificate in the early 1980s. Charity focused her career on bringing access and advocacy to Deaf people, including working in West Virginia (WV) in the late 1990s as the Executive Director of the WV Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.  She also worked for a number of years in a variety of middle- and senior management positions at Gallaudet University. She is currently serving as the Interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Registry Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). Charity  lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, Slemo.

Elijah Sow joined RID in 2007. He worked for BearingPoint, formerly KPMG Consulting and came to RID with several years of Operations Management and Conference Services experience. He’s served the organization in different capacities, ranging from Office Manager, IT/Operations Manager, Finance & Admin Manager, Director of Operations, Deputy Director. He has been appointed Chief Operating Officer by the Board of Directors since 2018.

Jenelle Bloom was born and raised in the Bay Area, and a true West Coaster at heart. She graduated from Gallaudet University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies and comes from a strong background in research and interpersonal communications. From her studies of how and why individuals communicate and interact the way that they do, she focuses on strengthening accessibility through visual communications on all fronts.