A Bit About Us
We are a non-profit, dedicated to the formation, growth, and success of Deaf-owned businesses.
Our Board collectively brings decades of business experience, non-profit experience, community knowledge, and financial acumen. As visionary leaders with proven track records, we came together to build this “small town” of success. We are Deaf, hard-of-hearing, Coda, and hearing – come together with a united vision.
Mission & Vision
Our Mission: to support the formation and growth of Deaf-owned businesses through innovative support programs, education, and collaboration.
Our Vision: Deaf, hard-of-hearing, and DeafBlind individuals should have equal access to the information and resources they need in order to establish and grow a business, or become self-employed. Language equity is the default for access to information and mentorship.
Meet The Board
Experienced, energetic, committed.
DR. KOJO AMISSAH
Dr. Kojo Amissah was inducted into the Class of 2020 Susan Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame and has over 30 years of professional experience in career development, leadership, executive recruitment, mentoring, organizational change within nonprofits, corporate organizations, State and Federal governments, and k-12 and higher education institutions.
Kojo earned an Associate degree in Architectural Technology, a Bachelor’s degree in Hotel and Resort Management and a Master’s degree in Service Management from Rochester Institute of Technology, and a Doctorate of Management (DM) in Organizational Leadership from the University of Phoenix. He earned additional professional development certificates, including Grant Writing, Human Resource Management, Paralegal, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
He considers himself a lifelong learner who strives to continue challenging himself in all aspects of his life. One of his endearing qualities is his willingness to continue reflecting on his past in a genuine attempt to be a better leader and human being. Kojo’s pride and joy is his daughter. He enjoys various activities, including reading, drawing, acting, producing music, playing soccer, cooking African dishes, taking long walks, and looking for ways to pay it forward and help others.
Pamela Lloyd-Ogoke was born and raised in New York City and became Deaf at the age of 17. She obtained her B.A. degree from Rochester Institute of Technology in Social Work and her M.A. degree in Deafness Rehabilitation from New York University. She also completed the
Deafness Rehabilitation Administrative post M.A. program from San Diego State University.
Pam’s career in human service has been extensive. She has held a variety of highly visible leadership positions such as Executive Director of a Disability Rights Center, University ADA Compliance Officer, and Program Administrator of a statewide Telecommunications Access Program. She currently works as the Chief of Community Integration Services and Supports for the North Carolina Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. In this role she has oversight of several statewide programs that foster greater independence for people with disabilities. She is responsible for state and federal funds that range from 16M – 21M per year.
Pam has been a leader within the Deaf community for over forty years. She was a member of the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees for nine years. Other leadership highlights include serving as President of National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA), Board member for National Association of the Deaf (NAD), NAD Fulton III steering committee, co-chair of the NAD-RID Task Force on Interpreter Issues and the NTID Advisory Group (NAG).
Pam is the Chair of the NTID Advisory Group and was selected in 2021 as Alumni of the year. She is a current member of RIT Board of Trustees. Pam is married to Aristotle U. Ogoke and they are the proud parents of Brianna Chinyere and Robert Luther Ogoke. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, reading, swimming, and traveling.
Taya Levine is a hearing native Californian who had the great good fortune to be raised in Fremont, California with many Codas as schoolmates. Her exposure to deaf culture began in childhood and matured into involvement with community college programs serving deaf students and ultimately, helping a federally funded regional interpreter training program to get off the ground. Now living a non-working life, Taya’s professional experiences included 10 years as a legislative aide to a member of Congress, program management at Gallaudet University and, after earning a Masters’ Degree in Organization Development, enjoying a 30 year experience of building a consulting firm and honing her cross cultural skills working in over 110 countries. Taya’s expertise lies in the understanding of what can support individual, group/team and organization success. She is a sensitive coach, an astute reader of people and dynamics and can skillfully support growth or change in individuals and whole systems. Taya is proud to be a part of the founding board for Deaf Main Street and aspires to bring her gifts and talents to bear to realize its vision.
Michael hails from Austin, TX – home of one of the largest deaf communities in the USA.. A commercial photographer of over 10 years by trade, Michael has valuable hands-on experience running his own studio that will translate well over to our Main Street vision!
Traveler, foodie, and self-admitted coffee snob, Michael is always looking forward to the next challenge and adventure, and enjoys a good book when he’s not spending time with his two kids, Halle and Enzo.
Board Members, in alphabetical order:
TINA JO BREINDEL
Born in New York to hearing parents and a vibrant Deaf community, Tina Jo, best known as “TJ,” grew up in the late 1950s, and witnessed not only protests against war and racism but also saw the prevalence of Audism. Upon graduating from the New York School for the Deaf in 1975, she went on to the National Technical Institute of the Deaf (NTID), and then attended Gallaudet University where she had her epiphany about community involvement and how the community relates to education. She earned a degree in Social Work, and soon after, a Master’s degree in Student Development in Higher Education from American University. Afterwards, she worked at Gallaudet University, where she witnessed the Deaf President Now protests. She stayed at Gallaudet until she met Joe Dannis, which was followed by a new life, the dawning of a new era where ASL and Deaf Culture was recognized and appreciated. Since then, DawnSignPress has become a big part of her life, in addition to her focus to support great causes, not to mention helping families everywhere benefit from ASL use with children and ongoing involvement in Deaf schools and organizations in the community.
Tina Jo’s awards and acknowledgements include a leadership award from the Deaf Women United (1999), CSDR Donna Schiller Award for support and devotion to CSDR children and community (2007), California Association of the Deaf “Heart of the CAD Community” award (2013), CSUN NCOD John Bulwer Award for those who “dare to be different” (2014), Deaf Women Herstory month for significant contributions (2015), Gallaudet University Alumni Association (GUAA) Pauline ‘Polly’ Peikoff Service to Others Award (2015), and most recently inducted into Fanwood Alumni Association (FAA) Hall of Fame. She has devoted much of her time to serving on various committees, such as a Board member of Deaf Women United (DWU), Chair of 1999 DWU conference; Chair of Community Advisory Committee; Board member for the CAL-ED (also served as its 2009 CAL-ED chair). She was also a board member of several other organizations: Gallaudet University Alumni Association (GUAA), Deaf Bilingual Coalition (DBC), and on KODAWest Board. She authored “Know That…Quotes from Deaf Women for a Positive Life” and a series of ASL Babies Board books.
When not working, educating herself or volunteering her time, Tina Jo authors children books, enjoys writing poetry, the natural world she finds by hiking up the mountains and the seashore, spending time with husband Joe and to raise three children. When spending leisure time, she would generally prefer to stay at home with her family. She explains, “children grow like weeds, and before we know it, they cultivate their way out from home.” She especially enjoys playing host to international guests and friends.
Wing Butler has been a passionate advocate for the Deaf community since before he can remember. Growing up with two loving deaf parents, he was bilingual in English and ASL when he was just knee-high. Eventually he became an ASL-English interpreter.
Today Wing is an entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and management professional with over 15 years of experience. He’s organized and lead high-performing teams at Purple Communications, Inc, DeafTV, Signing Resources, and GoReact. He is now the VP of Sales at Byte, a company that is disrupting the orthodontia space, which provides access to oral health with at home aligners to underserved communities. As a businessman, Wing actively seeks opportunities to build the sign language and Deaf economy. He was a frequent contributor to the publication StreetLeverage, and he has served on the RID Executive Board as Treasurer. Wing continues to use his business connections, his interpreting experience, and his social media know-how to integrate sign language into the national business community.
When Wing isn’t in the office, he can usually be found fishing, playing volleyball barefoot, or spending time with his five children and amazing wife.
Sheri Farinha is a nationally known civil rights activist on behalf of deaf and hard of hearing people. She has been the CEO for NorCal Services for Deaf & Hard of Hearing for more than 25 years. She graduated from CSUN, with both BA and M Ed. in Special Education. Sheri began her activism more than 40 years ago when she joined deaf community members in storming the office of then Superintendent of Public Instructions Bill Honig to protest the application of LRE (“least restrictive environment”) to minimize the value of the schools for the deaf that provides unrestricted communication access.
In the years leading to the passage of ADA, Sheri testified before Congress on access, educational and employment issues for deaf and hard of hearing people.
In 1991, she filed a complaint against Los Angeles Police Department for their failure to respond to her 911 TTY call. The 1994 settlement between LAPD and the U.S. Department of Justice was instrumental in the DOJ enforcement of 911 TTY access in 150 cities under Attorney General Janet Reno’s leadership. Keeping up with technology, Sheri was appointed by the FCC to the Emergency Access Advisory Committee in 2011. She assisted in passing SB 1211 which provides dates for testing a new Text-to-911 service in California. This new service will be demonstrated for the first time in California in an October 2018 press conference with the Sacramento Police Department.
As Director of LEAD-K (Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids), she advocated for the passing of SB210 requiring the Department of Education to disseminate information about language milestones, assess/track language development of Deaf children under 5 years old to prevent the epidemic of language deprivation in Deaf babies. Several other States have gone on to pass their own LEAD-K bills following the SB210 model. As Principal Investigator of the Health Resources & Services Administration HRSA-20-047 Sheri was able to win a federal grant allowing the LEAD-K Family Services program to be recently founded. LEAD-K Family Services will support the current Newborn Hearing Screening Program (NHSP) with centralized services for families with infants who have been identified as deaf or hard of hearing.
Sheri is responsible for facilitating the creation of the Disaster Response Interpreter (DRI) curriculum after speaking with the late Richard Devylder, Director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. The DRI curriculum has become a statewide standard for ensuring the Deaf people have access to information during natural disasters. Recently this training became very important during the coronavirus pandemic.
RICHARD LAURION, M.A., CI & CT, NIC Advanced
Richard has 38 years of experience as an interpreter, mentor and educator. He has served on the boards of interpreter associations, state commissions of the Deaf, human service agencies as well as for profit and not for profit companies. Richard’s career has focused on developing materials and resources that respond to the needs of interpreters living in rural and remote areas. He has built a reputation for leadership within the community and as a promoter of professional competence through life-long-learning. Richard has spent much of his work developing innovative and creative resources to support interpreters working in healthcare. In his own practice, Richard works as an on-call emergency medical and behavioral health interpreter for most Twin Cities’ healthcare providers. He is the owner of ASAPinterpreting, LLC.
DR. SLEMO WARIGON
Dr. Slemo Warigon is a savvy, persuasive, and courageous executive who knows how to influence powerful leaders using the time-tested business practices of values-driven leadership development and coaching, 360-degree feedback, executive search, proactive auditing, diversity and inclusion, stakeholder engagement, and agile organizational change management consulting. He has over 30 years of C-suite senior executive leadership, internal auditing, government auditing, information technology management, strategic management, and enterprise risk management experience. He founded the 360 Degree Consulting based on a corporate culture that reflects real-world experience, client intimacy, and customized solutions for leaders who demand real-world solutions to their evolving leadership challenges.
Slemo earned his dual BS degrees in Accounting and Computer Information Systems from Gallaudet University, MBA in General Business and Systems Management from Texas A&M University-Commerce, Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Organizational Leadership from Northcentral University, and DBA in Information Technology Management from Nova Southeastern University. He also pursued advanced degrees and numerous executive education certificates, including in Public Administration, Nonprofit Leadership, Public Policy, and Economic Development at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Slemo’s expertise and professionalism are widely respected in the global leadership and auditing communities. He’s a Certified Executive Coach (CEC), Certified Inspector General Auditor (CIGA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), and Certified Internal Controls Auditor (CICA). He has written extensively on organizational leadership, corporate sustainability, strategic management, operational excellence, ethics, diversity and inclusion trends, internal auditing, government auditing, and information systems security, and his work has appeared in numerous professional publications. The Institute of Internal Auditors, an international professional association for internal auditors, presented him the 1999 Outstanding Contributor Award in Montreal, Canada, for his article, “Data Warehouse Control and Security.”
Slemo serves on the boards of the National Deaf Chamber of Commerce (NDCOC), Reaching Your Dream Foundation (RYDF), and International Racquetball Tour (IRT). Being husband to his wife, Charity, and father to their six beautiful children are his most important roles. His hobbies include golf, soccer, racquetball, squash, badminton, tennis, ping pong, volleyball, traveling, poetry, scientific research, and leadership coaching.
DR. STEPHEN WEINER
We tackle the difficult, wrestle the elusive, and subdue the impossible.
Chief Idea Officer
Shop Wizard Extraordinaire
Chases people and implements ideas
Organizes all the data things.
Makes pretty websites and graphics