Born in Seattle, Washington, Marilyn Jean Smith was raised as an oralist and found her identity as a Deaf person at Gallaudet University where she graduated in 1974 with a B.A. in English and in 1977 with an M.A. in Counseling. She has been on her Deafhood journey ever since.

Marilyn is the Founder and former Executive Director (1986-2011) of the Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services (ADWAS) in Seattle and is considered the “Mother” of the anti- violence movement in Deaf America. She has served on the boards of Deaf Women United, the National Association of the Deaf and Discovering Deaf Worlds. In addition to being on the board of the Deafhood Foundation since the fall of 2011, she is also on the board of Communication Service for the Deaf. Her commitment to social activism and community volunteer work is a big priority in her life.  She has been widely recognized for her work including an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Gallaudet University, the Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World award, a special award from President Clinton and many others.

After retiring from ADWAS Marilyn was a Distinguished Alumnus Fellow at Gallaudet University during 2012. She also created a new company with her partner Karen in Seattle. The Leading Edge, LLC provides consultation and services to non-profit organizations throughout the United States including grant writing, board development, strategic planning, conflict resolution, and fund and donor development. She is also a motivational speaker.  She has been married since 1984. She is a voracious reader, loves British television and movies, enjoys cooking and hosting parties, spends winters on her beloved island of Maui, and calls Norway her second home.



As a native of St. Augustine FL and from Deaf family, she attended Florida School for the Deaf for six years before being mainstreamed at a parochial school (the word “mainstreamed” in a school was unheard of) for the next six years, before completing her HS education at St. Rita School for the Deaf in Cincinnati OH. She obtained her BA in Psychology and a MA in Deaf Education at Gallaudet University. After one year at Louisiana School for the Deaf as an elementary teacher, she spent 16 years teaching at California School for the Deaf Fremont, and finally 18 ½ years at Ohlone College as a Professor. She’s married to David O. Reynolds. She has three sons and three stepsons, all in their 30’s.

Taking Deafhood in Spring 2008 was the turning point of her life. She became very involved with the journey by participating as one of the narrators of Deafhood Discussions, teaching Deafhood course, presenting “Introduction to Deafhood 101” workshops numerous times at several state association conferences, YLC, Gallaudet’s 150/125 Anniversary Reunion, and several other places. From these experiences, she has become an activist, along with her like-minded husband, fighting against injustices in the world.  Alyce retired in December 2012. She has been busy with volunteering as a docent of two museums in San Francisco, extensive traveling with her husband and being grandma to adorable but rambunctious twins, one of them is Deaf.



Matt Ellis hails from the sunny southern part of California, born Deaf to a Deaf family. Matt has experienced the full spectrum of Deaf education, attending a Deaf program at a mainstreamed setting at Taft in Santa Ana then attending a Deaf school, California School for the Deaf, Riverside til graduation in 1997. Matt is a proud alumna of Gallaudet University. He has experience as a cottage counselor at California School for the Deaf Fremont, Teacher’s Aide and ASL teacher at the Tripod program in Burbank. Matt is proud to call the beautiful city of San Diego his home, in which he currently holds the position of Customer Relations Manager at a Deaf-owned and operated business, DawnSignPress, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities.

As a long-time staunch advocate of the betterment of Deaf people, taking the Deafhood 101 course in 2013 was a life-altering and empowering event for Matt, in which it helped shift his perception regarding the existence of Deaf people on Earth. With the new lens that he has, Matt now has a deeper understanding and sensitivity towards the unique Deaf experience. His Deafhood journey has fueled his conviction that every single Deaf person should take the class at least once for the sake of truly understanding, strengthening, empowering and therefore protecting our beloved community, language and culture.

Honorary Board

Author, “Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood

Paddy was a lecturer and MSC Coordinator at the now Centre for Deaf Studies at the University of Bristol. He completed his Ph.D. in Deaf Culture at Bristol University in 1998 and had written, edited and contributed to numerous publications in the field. Both his writing and his Deaf activism have received international recognition.

He received the Francis Maginn Award “For Lifetime Achievement for the Deaf Community” from the British Deaf Association (2004); the E.M. Gallaudet Award for “International Leadership in Promoting the Well-Being of Deaf People of the World” from Gallaudet University (2009); and the Deaf Lifetime Achievement Award from the Federation of Deaf People for activities which have extended the possibilities for Deaf communities in the UK and worldwide (1998). He was also added to the British Deaf Association Roll of Honour for “Outstanding Contributions to the Deaf Community in Deaf Education” (2007).

Founding Board Members


Dr. Patrick Boudreault   2007 – 2010
Clark Brooke   2007 – 2010
Mel Carter   2008 – 2014
Kevin Clark   2007 – 2017
David Eberwein   2007 – 2013
Dr. Genie N. Gertz   2007 – 2011
Judy Gough   2007 – 2019
Ella Mae Lentz   2007 – 2019
Marvin T. Miller   2007 – 2017
Colin Piotrowski   2007 – 2013
Kathy Say   2007 – 2014
Butch Zein   2007 – 2014

Past Board Members


Dr. MJ Bienvenu   2015 - 2018

Ritchie Bryant   2013 – 2015
Leang Hu Ngov   2015
Melvin Patterson   2013 – 2014
Timothy Riker   2013 – 2017

Barry Solomon   2016 - 2019

Elsie Stecker  2016 - 2017

Terri Waddell-Motter   2013 - 2018
Kristen Weiner (Rajarajeshwari)   2013 – 2015

Staff, Contractors & Volunteers

Jenny Gough, Ed.D

Class/ Workshop Facilitator

Hayward, CA

Jenny is an Indigenous Deaf woman originally from NY, with family from Salvador. She has been a lifelong restorative and transformative justice activist serving various Deaf orgs. She is a teacher, researcher, Deafhood POC curriculum developer, and now Deafhood facilitator, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experiences.

DeAnna Swope

Translation Project Committee & Class/ Workshop Facilitator

Atlanta, GA

DeAnna is a southern Deaf Belle born to a hearing family and is happily married with five children. She has been a lifelong advocate in the Deaf community. DeAnna is excited to see how Deafhood will manifest person-hoods and looks toward witnessing their life changing process. 

Butch Zein

Class/ Workshop Facilitator & Staff-Board Development Consultant

Palm Springs, CA

Butch has hosted several workshops the past few years and is one of founding board members of The Deafhood Foundation. He believes by taking Deafhood classes we will become liberated and empowered to make positive changes within the Deaf Community.

Marvin Miller

Class/ Workshop Facilitator, Seminar Presenter & Staff-Board Development Consultant

Washington, DC

Marvin has taught Deafhood classes all over the USA for several years. He is a founding board member of The Deafhood Foundation, and he led the effort to build world’s first signing town in Laurent, SD. His efforts continue to this day. He believes by taking Deafhood classes we will become liberated and empowered people.

Raymond Bateh (Olympia, WA) Diversity Curriculum Committee
Kevin Clark (Sacramento, CA) Class/ Workshop Facilitator

David Cowan (Atlanta, GA) Translation Project Committee
Chriz Dally (Olathe, KS) Executive Director
Misty Flowers (Seattle, WA) Book-keeper
Star Grieser
 (Washington, D.C.) Translation Project Committee & Deafhood Conference Coordinator

Elvia Guillermo (Washington, D.C.) Diversity Curriculum Committee

Marika Kovacs-Houlihan (Madison, WI) Translation Project Coordinator & Workshop Facilitator
Ella Mae Lentz (Hayward, CA) The Deafhood Monologues Executive Producer & Ladd's Book-ASL Translation Project Director
Katie Murch (Austin, TX) Translation Project Coordinator & Class/ Workshop Facilitator
Melvin "Mel" Patterson (Modesto, CA) Diversity Curriculum Committee & Workshop Facilitator
Jenny Witteborg (Rixeyville, VA) Class/ Workshop Facilitator

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