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Our esteemed team of volunteer board members are dedicated to continuing and expanding our mission. We are a family of creative minds, qualified curators, and professionals in different fields who are bound by an undying passion for Deaf culture.

Meet the board of directors. Click to download a transcript.

Wendy Koch


Wendy is a lifelong learner and facilitator of her children’s lifelong learning. After graduating from Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, she went to support Deaf community services in employment, vocational rehabilitation, community education, advocacy, and empowerment for over 20 years. To supplement the work she did, she obtained her Master's in Public Administration from California State University, East Bay. After years of working at non-profit and public services, she went off the beaten path into a Deaf TV production assisting the creative team launching a film production of No Talking Allowed. After the wrap-up, she went to help her family with their business.

Wendy is currently at metro Seattle, Washington with her husband and their three children. As a lifelong learner, she continues to pursue training to improve Deaf services. Outside of work and volunteering, she enjoys hiking, appreciating the arts, knitting, gardening, and catching up on some great reads. Wendy looks forward in helping MDHAC thrive and help educate both the deaf and hearing worlds the wonders and amazement of Deaf history, art, and culture.

Lorrie Shank

Vice-President of Internal Affairs 

Lorrie loves to be involved in deaf community by being a leader and give various of supports to deaf community and deaf organizations.

Lorrie was born in Kansas City, Kansas and grew up in Illinois during most of her childhood. She graduated from Wisconsin School for the Deaf and received her Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Gallaudet University. She moved back to Kansas with her family in 1988.

Lorrie is currently a Board member of Kansas School for the Deaf Endowment Association, Chair of 2025 Deaf Seniors of America Conference in Kansas City and on board with Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. 


Butch Zein

Vice-President of External Affairs

George "Butch" Zein, a fervent globe-trotter, boasts an eclectic travel dossier. He immersed himself in the vibrant culture of Tokyo for a full year and embarked on a solo odyssey around the world, traversing the landscapes of Southeast Asia, India, Africa, and Europe. His penchant for Mexico, owing to its geographical proximity and its cornucopia of rich and diverse culinary traditions and cultures, led to frequent visits.


In his illustrious career spanning over 25 years, George's professional journey commenced in California, where he assumed the role of Linguistic Research Assistant at the prestigious Salk Institute. There, he delved into the intricacies of how the human brain acquires American Sign Language (ASL). His trajectory culminated in upper management positions within both non-profit organizations and corporate environments, contributing his expertise to entities such as Deaf Community Services of San Diego, Inc., Deaf Counseling, Advocacy & Referral Agency, Sprint, MCI, CSDVRS, and a brief sojourn with Convo.


Furthermore, George stands as one of the founding pillars of the Deafhood Foundation and has conducted an impressive repertoire of over 100 classes and workshops addressing multifaceted issues concerning Deafhood. Presently, he imparts his knowledge as an instructor of ASL and Deaf Culture at Crafton Hills College, located in Yucaipa, CA.


In the realm of personal relationships, George has found profound companionship in his spouse, Allen Baki, a devoted son of a Deaf mother, Rosemary Stapp Mcgaugh, and a proud sibling of a Deaf sister, Risa Lewis. Their familial joy extends to their roles as doting uncles to three remarkable Deaf children: Marika, Karita, and Rory Lewis. Grateful acknowledgment is extended to Risa and Robert for perpetuating the distinguished lineage of Deaf heritage, which has spanned an impressive six generations. The couple currently calls Palm Springs, California, their abode.

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Suzanne Dennis

Vice-President of Governance

Suzanne obtained her BA in Criminology from Gallaudet University and her Master's in Social Work from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Her credentials are LSCSW and now co-own a Deaf-owned interpreting agency.

Suzanne has and continues to sit on numerous local and national level boards, advisory committees and task forces geared towards services for the Deaf community. Suzanne continues to be involved with a variety of
projects that focuses on striving for the better services for Deaf citizens in her state and nationwide.

Melinni Taylor

Board Member

Melinni Taylor, also known as “Mel” is a Certified Community Partner Work Incentives Counselor. She received her certification from Virginia Commonwealth University, in collaboration with the Social Security Administration in 2013. As a deaf owner of Deaf Future Works, she educates Deaf, Deaf Blind, and Hard of Hearing beneficiaries about options under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) programs. Mel also explains other local, state and federal resources for people with disabilities who want to work. She also holds a bachelor and master’s degrees in Social Work from Gallaudet University.

Mel collects artwork from Deaf artists and has
a gallery wall in her home. In her leisure time, Mel enjoys sailing, reading, traveling, spending time with her family, and playing games. She resides in Austin, Texas with her husband, two children, a dog, and a cat.

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Kevin Clark

Board Member 

Introducing Kevin Clark, a passionate advocate for the Deaf community. With a deep-rooted involvement in various roles, Kevin's unwavering dedication has led him to proudly serve as a board member of the MDHAC. Devoted to the mission and goals of the organization, Kevin actively supports the Deaf individuals, ensuring their rich history, vibrant arts, and diverse culture are celebrated both within the walls of our museum and online. Join Kevin in his noble cause, and together, let us create a lasting impact. Support, donate, and be a part of the MDHAC community today.


Matt Ellis

Board Member 

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 in a mainstreamed school setting, finishing out his secondary school education at California School for the Deaf, Riverside, and attended Gallaudet University. Matt currently resides in San Diego where he works as Marketing-Sales representative at a Deaf-owned business, DawnSignPress.

A long-time passionate advocate of the betterment of the Deaf experience, taking the Deafhood 101 course in 2013 was a life-altering event that helped shift Matt’s perception of the existence of Deaf people on earth. Matt is fueled by the conviction that every single Deaf person should take the class once.

At the end of the day, Matt enjoys taking in the great outdoors through the sport of Disc Golf, partaking in stories through the medium of film and comics, and trying out the myriad of creative cuisines out there with family and friends.


Misty Flowers

Board Member 

Misty is a native of Washington State and has been employed by Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services (ADWAS) for 18 years as their Finance Director. At ADWAS, she manages a combined budget of approximately 2.9 million dollars. She has been the Treasurer of the Salish Sea Deaf School Board for 8 years since the school opened in 2015 in WA State. Misty has been working with the Deafhood Institute on their Finances since February 2020. Finally, Misty also volunteers with Deaf Spotlight to develop their annual budget.
Misty loves hiking, backcountry camping, and trekking. In April 2022, she trekked to Everest Base Camp via the Cho La Pass loop in Nepal and looks forward to the next trekking trip in Spring 2024 on the Camino del Norte / Camino Primitivo Route (16 days of trekking) in Spain and France. You will often find her in the mountains on the weekends in WA State year-round.


Ivy Vélez

Board Member 

As a distinguished advocate within the grassroots Latina Deaf Community, Ivy Vélez brings a
wealth of experience and passion to the board of directors. Born to Deaf parents from Puerto
Rico, Ivy's commitment to her heritage runs deep. Currently serving as the Statewide
Coordinator for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Supports at the Department of Developmental
Services (DDS), Ivy dedicates herself to enhancing the lives of Deaf individuals with intellectual
and developmental disabilities.

Educationally, Ivy holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services and a Master of
Science in Organizational Management and Leadership. With over 35 years of experience in the
field of human services, Ivy has become a seasoned expert, specializing in various domains. Her work includes crafting specialized consultations, conducting staff training, and orchestrating
program/process evaluations, all with a focus on intercultural competences and the importance
of diversity in culturally, racially, and linguistically diverse settings.
Ivy's impact is not confined to a local scale; her influence extends statewide and nationwide.
She has conducted and chaired effective cultural sensitivity workshops, delivered
presentations, seminars, and panels, all addressing issues affecting Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Beyond her professional commitments, Ivy resides in Marlborough, Massachusetts, with her
partner of 25 years. Together, they have lovingly raised five cherished cats. Ivy remains deeply
committed to the Deaf community, contributing as a board member of various organizations
and actively participating in community activities. In her personal time, she passionately
engages in "The Velez Deaf Sisters Show" participates in Deaf community theaters, and attends
a wide array of enriching deaf events.


Kevin Smith

Board Member 

Kevin was born and raised in Chicago in a Deaf family. He attended Illinois School for the Deaf
from the age of 9 until his graduation in 1982. He briefly attended Gallaudet University and
has retired from the United States Postal Service after 36 and half years.
His current passion is teaching ASL and is now tutoring at Moraine Valley Community College
at Palos Hill, Illinois. He is well known for his basketball skills as a player and now as a
coach. He has participated in the Deaflympics several times and had won gold medals for his
USA teams. He was an assistant coach for USA men’s basketball team at Deaflympics in
2009 at Taipei, Taiwan and his team won the gold medal. He is now a board member for
United States America Deaf Sports Federation (USADSF), a commissioner for State of Illinois
Deaf and Hard of Hearing (IDHHC), and Advisory Board for Chicago Hearing Society
(CHS) Kevin resides in Berwyn, IL with his wife Caroline Depcik, and have 2 daughters
Jasmine 25 years old and Jada 23 years old.


Chriz Dally

Executive Director (Part-time)

When Chriz first started the process of "finding herself" during college, she fell in love. She fell in love not with a person but with the idea of “being Deaf”. With a stronger sense of a possibilities that there is a better way to define oneself with a right to exist, she graduated and went on in search of her “Deafhood", not realizing, at that time, that there would be such a word to describe this experiencing. For over 20 years, she relished her many roles serving Deaf people through community-involvement, advocacy, education, counseling, and consulting. It is through her connections with others, where her "world-view", or how she sees her world, has evolved, arriving with a deep affirmation that being Deaf is a way of life that is wholesome… not one that is broken or in need of a fix/cure. She is thankful for all the opportunities she had to work alongside wonderful people of various backgrounds and serve hundreds of Deaf children/ youth/ adults, their parents/ families, and allies within homes, schools, colleges, mental-health/ community-based agencies, and grassroots-based social organizations that fills the fabric of life within a Deaf community. While her journey in self-understanding continues, Chriz is enjoying life in Olathe, Kansas with the love of her life (a person, this time!) and their three beautiful CODA children!

Join The Board of Directors

The Board of Directors, staff and volunteers are an essential part of the Museum of Deaf History, Arts & Culture's growth and success. The MDHAC Board of Directors are always looking for enthusiastic and talented volunteers passionate about Deaf history, arts & culture. 

The talents, energy and skills of volunteers enable the Museum to serve all members of the general public, including children, families, and adults.  If you have the time, energy and talent to share, please consider becoming a volunteer to help the Museum in diverse ways to advance the Mission of the Museum of Deaf History, Arts & Culture.

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