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
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.
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.
Diane Douglas (Term: Ongoing)
Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas has always been passionate about the American education system and has been actively involved in Arizona’s education landscape for over twenty years. Her interest started first with her daughter’s education and continues with the birth of her new grandson. She wants an excellent education for her own family and for all families in Arizona.
Superintendent Douglas is proud to have served two terms on the Peoria Unified School District Governing Board, including two years as President of the Board. During her tenure she worked to support the district’s parents and teachers in delivering an excellent education to all of its students. She has also served on the Site Councils for two Peoria Unified schools and on the Board of Education for church education programs.
As the leader of the Arizona Department of Education, Superintendent Douglas is devoted to improving education in Arizona so that all students have the opportunity to succeed in life. She plans to work directly with the state education community to accomplish this goal and looks forward to collaborating with teachers, parents, students, and administrators.
Prior to her advocacy and leadership in education issues, Superintendent Douglas graduated from Rutgers University and had a distinguished career as a financial expert for a variety of private sector firms.
Mr. William Gibney (Term: 1/2/2012 – 1/1/2018)
William Gibney is an attorney focusing on estate planning and asset protection with his own firm, W. Gibney Law, PLLC. His practice includes preparation of revocable and irrevocable trusts, wills, prenuptial agreements, business formation, LLC operating agreements, partnership agreements, and asset purchase agreements. He also conducts mediation and arbitration for family, estate, and business disputes.
Bill is a nationally recognized lecturer and has published numerous articles on estate planning and asset protection. He lectures on the topics monthly at the Arizona School of Real Estate and Business. He has also hosted estate-planning programs on radio stations throughout the Valley.
Bill received his juris doctorate, with honors, from the University of Arizona College of Law in 1972. Upon graduation, he accepted an appointment as a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. In 1975, Bill returned to Arizona and served as Special Counsel to three Arizona governors. He has been in private practice since 1984, with offices in Phoenix and Pinewood, Arizona.
Bill is married to former KPNX-TV anchorwoman Cheryl Parker, who now works with Bill as his paralegal. Bill serves on the Board of Director for the Arizona Schools for the Deaf and Blind. He is also President of the Board of Directors of Pinewood Players, Inc., a community theatre in Pinewood, Arizona, where he also enjoys performing on stage. Bill is an active member of Paradise Valley Community Church and Munds Park Community Church.
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.
Mr. Dean Howard (Term: 1/7/2013 – 1/7/2019)
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, Chairman of the ASDB Board (Term: 1/2/2012 – 1/1/2018)
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.
Sue Kay Kneifel (Term: 1/6/2014 – 1/2/2017)
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: 1/6/2014 – 1/2/2017)