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Board Information

About ASDB Board

ASDB is a state agency overseen by a board of directors appointed by the governor. The ASDB Board consists of the governor, as an ex officio nonvoting member, the superintendent of public instruction or the superintendent’s designee, one member from the commission for the deaf and the hard of hearing, one member from the governor’s council on blindness and visual impairment and six appointive members.

The governor shall appoint the appointive members of the board. The member from the commission for the deaf and the hard of hearing and the member from the governor’s council on blindness and visual impairment shall be appointed to terms of three years. One member shall be an employee of a school district who works with the district’s program for sensory impaired pupils. In selecting three of the remaining five appointive members the governor shall give preference to persons who have experience in and knowledge of sensory impaired education. The terms of two appointive members expire on the first Monday of January of each year. Appointment to fill a vacancy resulting other than by expiration of term shall be for the unexpired portion of the term only. Members of the board shall not receive compensation.

Board of Directors

David Nigro - Board Member
David Nigro – Board President (Term: 1/4/2016 – 1/3/2022)

Mr. Nigro is a Phoenix attorney whose practice is concentrated in intellectual property law. He advises clients in patent and trademark prosecutions, patent and trademark litigation, and transactions involving intellectual property. Apart from his law practice, Mr. Nigro is dedicated to leadership on issues relating to the education of children with special needs.

Image of board member Lynne Davison smiling at camera.
Lynne Davison (Term: 1/7/2013 – 1/3/2022)

I have been a Teacher of Persons who are Deaf and/or Hard of Hearing for forty plus years. I am currently a Teacher of the Impaired at Glendale Union High School District where I provide service to nine high schools and supervise 6 interpreters. During my career, I have taught deaf and hard of hearing students from birth to 22 years of age. I have worked in a private school in Beverly, MA and in two schools districts in Connecticut. In Arizona, I have taught in Ganado, Casa Grande, Mesa, Tucson, for Maricopa County at Williams Air Force Base and at Desert Voices Oral Learning Center. I attend conferences and workshops addressing the areas of hearing loss and educating deaf and hard of hearing individuals as well as in the area of deafblindness.

I was a member of the Cochlear Implant team at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, served as a member of the Human Rights committee for the Dept. Of Developmental Disabilities in Tucson and was on the Arizona state team attending the State Leaders Summit on Collaborative Services for Students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Image of Mike Mannelly smiling at camera

Mike Mannelly

Mike Mannelly is the Associate Superintendent for Highly Effective Schools for the Arizona Department of Education. In this role, Mr. Mannelly is responsible for Adult Education, 21st Century Community Learning Centers and Exceptional Student Services. Previously, Mr. Mannelly has been a district level administrator, an adjunct faculty member at Grand Canyon University in the College of Education teaching undergraduate Special Education courses and graduate level educational leadership courses from Public School Finance to Special Education Law. He’s been an elementary school principal, the director of a Public Day School, as well as an assistant principal in charge of discipline for a comprehensive high school in central Phoenix.

Before becoming a school administrator, Mike taught special education in grades 2-12, in Arizona as well as Connecticut. Earning two degrees from the University of Arizona while playing football, Mr. Mannelly learned that self-determination and goal setting are the best way to ensure a successful future, no matter what obstacles might be put in your path.

Image of board member Michael Gordon smiling at camera.
Michael Gordon (Term: 1/3/2017 – 1/6/2020)

Michael Gordon has over twenty five years’ experience in the administration and management of government and not- for- profit human service agencies in both Arizona and New York State.

Since March 2005 Michael has served as Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired (SAAVI). Prior to this position Michael worked for the Arizona Department of Economic Security/ Division of Developmental Disabilities as District II Area Program Manager.

While in New York State, Michael directed a rural Community Action Agency and later both the Poverty Services and Vocational Assessment and Employment programs for Unity House of Troy, a large human service agency located in Renesselear County, New York.

Michael has a Bachelor of Science degree from the State University of New York in Psychology and a Master of Science degree from the College of Saint Rose in Education. Michael lives in Tucson with his wife Kim and their four children.

Board President Dean Howard

Dean Howard (Term: 1/7/2013 – 1/3/2022)

Mr. Howard has worked in both the public and private sector for over 20 years. He possesses a strong background in public involvement, procurement, planning and zoning, media relations, government relations, transportation and infrastructure development. He excels at combining his technical skills with his networking ability to achieve positive results for his clients and contacts.

Dean started his career in commercial development in the late 1980’s, working to promote a mutual understanding between business and government. His background in the private sector and government affords him the ability to understand complex issues quickly while efficiently and effectively communicating his clients’ goals and objectives. He also understands the importance of balancing the needs of multiple stakeholders and to find common ground on multifaceted issues. He is the owner of a local public relations consulting firm, Howard Partners, specializing in local government, business development, and public involvement.

Dean is a native Phoenician and a graduate of Sunnyslope High School in Phoenix, Arizona. He attended Arizona State University where he received his degree in business administration in 1991. Mr. Howard is married to his wife, Renee, and has two daughters who attend Sunnyslope High School and a son who attends Madison Traditional Academy Middle School.

Dr. Mark Syms, (Term: 1/1/2018 – 1/5/2021)

Mark J. Syms, MD is an ear surgeon specializing in hearing loss and diseases of the ear. He is the President of Arizona Hearing Center and Arizona Ear Center and a member of the Barrow Neurologic Institute in Phoenix, Arizona. Dr. Syms has extensive experience working with patients receiving implantable devices to enhance their ability to hear and has presented both nationally and internationally on the topic.

Dr. Syms is certified by the America Board of Otolaryngology and was among the first physicians in the country to be Board Certified in Neurotology. Dr. Syms completed his residency at Tripler Regional Medical Center in Honolulu and a general surgery internship at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. He received his medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and his Bachelor of Science with honors in Biology and Philosophy from Boston College.

Dr. Syms is a past President of the Arizona Society of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery and is currently a representative to the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Board of Governors. He received a Certificate of Honor from the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. He served on the national committees for Telemedicine, Hearing Aids and Implantable Devices and on committees to develop educational materials for colleagues. Dr. Syms is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation Cochlear Implant Committee to establish national standards for performance and reliability of Cochlear Implants. He is the Arizona Sate Champion for the American Cochlear Implant Alliance. He serves as a member of the Arizona Department of Health Services Speech and Hearing Professionals Advisory Committee. He previously served on the school board of Desert Voices. He is currently on the President of the Board of Directors of Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind. He advocates locally, nationally and internationally to improve patient access to implantable technology.

Dr. Syms has collaborated on numerous research protocols and has served as the principal investigator on several. The co-author of more than one-hundred articles, abstracts and book chapters, Dr. Syms is a member of the prestigious Triological Society. He has been an invited presenter and lecturer at numerous local, national and international medical meetings. He presents extensively on Cochlear Implants and other implantable hearing technology.

Dr. Syms developed an interest in treating hearing loss at a young age growing up with a brother who was Deaf and/or Hard of Hearing due to treatment of a brain tumor. He is married to a smart, beautiful redhead who blessed him with three wonderful children.

Image of board member Sue Kay smiling at camera.

Sue Kay Kneifel (Term: 1/3/2017 – 1/6/2020)

Sue Kay Kneifel is the Statewide Coordinator for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing at the Arizona Department of Economic Security’s Arizona Rehabilitation Services Administration. The mission of this agency is to work with persons with disabilities to achieve their goals for employment and independence. Sue Kay has over 20 years of diverse counseling and case management experience, working primarily with people who are Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing.

Sue Kay has an extensive background in American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting, and has served as a Commissioner on the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing since 2012. Sue Kay has also served on the Phoenix College Interpreter Prep Program Advisory Committee since 2012. Sue Kay is versed in state and federal disability laws and is fluent in ASL.

Shelley Herbold (Term: 1/3/2017 – 1/6/2020)

Linda Bove (Term: 1/2/2018 – 1/5/2021)

‘Transgenerational ‘ best describes Linda Bove’s career. A regular on television’s Sesame Street for more than thirty years, today, Bove is recognized by children as well their parents, all of whom grew up watching the program.

Linda Bove’s long and illustrious career began as a leading actress with the National Theatre of the Deaf (NTD). She broke new ground when she was cast as a series regular on the daytime dramatic serial, Search for Tomorrow. Her tenure on the show, provided television viewers the first-of-it’s-kind opportunity to see a deaf actor using sign language and interacting with hearing cast members.

America was mesmerized, and very much in love with this fiery and dynamic woman.

Bove didn’t stop there. After her long-running engagements touring with NTD and starring on Search for Tomorrow, she went on to guest star on Happy Days, playing The Fonz’s love interest (who later rejected him for another man). Other television and film credits include Omnibus with Meryl Streep, A child’s Christmas in Wales with Sir Michael Redgrave, The Silken Tent with Jason Robards, Follow That Bird! featuring the cast of Sesame Street, and Children of a Lesser God, which she also performed on Broadway with John Rubinstein.

Through her association with Random House, Bove authored two sign language books that featured the Muppets, Sign Language Fun and Sign Language ABC. With the enormous popularity of these books, Bove developed the home video, Sign Me a Story, which was released by the same publisher. This video featured Bove performing a series of fairy tales with her own unique twist. Goldilocks signed to the three bears and still got what she wanted. Little Red Riding Hood had some difficulty understanding the Big Bad Wolf, and for obvious reasons. Children and adults alike snatched up practically every copy of the video, which continues to sell today. The video won numerous awards, most notably Parents’ Choice Award Videos and Action Children’s Television Award.

Sign Me a Story evolved into a live theatre production and, after a month-long premiere at Deaf West Theatre in Los Angeles, toured the U.S. Voiced and signed, the play was highly interactive and included sign language games, improvisations, and information and anecdotes about deaf culture and American Sign Language.

Universal Studios beckoned with its animated film series, Land Before Time (I-IV). In addition to editions that were customarily closed-captioned, a new idea was proposed: ‘why not incorporate signed interpretation within the film’? Bove accepted this challenge and can be seen in all four (the first feature and three sequels), signing along with the characters’ spoken dialogue in the videos. This was another pioneering effort for Bove who was never a stranger to breaking new ground.

While on hiatus from Sesame Street, Bove toured the U.S. making personal appearances, for audiences of children and their families, incorporating the pleasure and joy of storytelling into her performances. She is also a Founding Member of the Tony Award winning Deaf West Theatre, having appeared in the title roles of their highly acclaimed productions of St. Joan and Medea (L.A. Ovation Award nomination – Best Actress). Critics agree on one thing: Bove is a fabulous actress. She has “…A spirited radiance and a focused clarity” (Drama-Logue, which honored her with Best Actress Awards for both productions), “Her great spirit in a tiny frame (5’2″) moves mountains…” (Back Stage West), and she “…reveals a stunning array of emotions in her face…” (L.A. Weekly). The Los Angeles Times comments, “Linda Bove’s riveting portrayal of the spurned and vengeful Medea quickly banishes any doubts…she evokes the characters full range…”

The Tolucan Times best sums up the public’s perception of Bove: “Firstly, I’ve long waited to see Linda Bove (Joan) spin her magic once again, since her exciting portrayal in ‘Medea.’ Again as St. Joan, she was a marvel to behold, in her speechless ability to project every emotion known to woman.”

As a Founding Member of the internationally renown Deaf West Theater (established in Los Angeles, 1990) Linda Bove has been instrumental in the growth and expansion of the company. Bove was a co-director of Deaf West’s first professional training program for deaf and hard of hearing actors. The program, which draws students from all over the country, is the only such program of its kind on the West Coast. She has directed the program for five years, which offers a beginner as well as an advanced curriculum.

Bove recently made her debut as a director, having completed a series of nine educational videotapes about the State relay service.

For the past four years, she has been the ASL Master for Deaf West’s production (and touring productions) of the Tony-honored BIG RIVER. The ASL Master is responsible for translating the written English text into American Sign Language. BIG RIVER was initially mounted at Deaf West Theatre in North Hollywood, and then moved downtown to the Mark Taper Forum, then onto the Roundabout Theatre on Broadway. From there, the production embarked on a 40-week National and International Tour. She is looking forward to ‘switching hats’ again, when joins the second company of BIG RIVER as an actress, for a three-month performance run at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC in Spring (2005).

In 2006, Linda was at the helm of the ASL translation team, for DWT’s first original musical, SLEEPING BEAUTY WAKES (a World Premiere engagement at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, in co-production with Center Theatre Group).

Earlier this year (2008), Linda served as the ASL/Deaf Culture Consultant for CBS/Hallmark’s film presentation of SWEET NOTHING IN MY EAR, starring Marlee Matlin and Jeff Daniels.

She completed ASL translation for “Pippin”, DWT and CTG’s joint venture, which was performed at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, CA, January-March 2009.

In 2010, she made an appearance on the two episodes at Showtime’s WEEDS.

Bove makes her home in Phoenix with her husband of 48 years, Deaf West Theatre’s Artistic Director, Ed Waterstreet (retired).

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