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At Signs of Self, we strongly believe it is through community effort and collaboration that needs can be identified and change can be made. Because of that, we have tried to make the Board of Directors of Signs of Self as diverse as possible to be as representative as possible. Our Board consists of individuals who identify as Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, Deaf-Blind, or are community members and/or service providers to these groups.
The Board brings together individuals with multiple skill sets and a knowledge base of over 30 years of direct service to persons with disabilities and specifically with individuals who are Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, or Deaf-Blind. While each individual board member was able to provide services or their own personal advocacy within the community; we felt that as a group we would be much better able to accomplish several important goals that as individuals they could not:
(July 1, 2013)
Our Current Board Members
Joel Matusof - President
Mr. Matusof was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Woodlyn, Pennsylvania. He was born Deaf and was also visually impaired until he was 8 months old. Both his parents are Deaf and, of his 6 siblings, he has two sisters who are Deaf. Growing up he spent most of his formative years at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. Currently he resides in Honolulu, Hawai`i and has 4 beautiful children. In his 17 years of living in Honolulu he has been an active participant in the Deaf community. He was a foster parent to two Deaf boys through Catholic Charities, coached the wrestling team of Deaf and hearing students at Kalani High School, has donated his time to the Aloha State Association of the Deaf, Hawai`ian Sign Language Festival, the 50th State Fair Fundraiser and, of course, Signs of Self. Mr. Matusof feels it is fulfilling and rewarding to give his time and attention to members of his community. Now, as the president of Signs of Self, he feels it is an honor to continue to serve the community. According to Mr. Matusof, I think our population is unique and the staff at Signs of Self are experts in working with this unique and underserved population. Without our help they would be at a serious disadvantage and the communication barriers that they currently experience would be even greater. We work tirelessly and enjoy every moment of it. The gifts we receive are the success and happiness of the people we serve."
Keano Nakamaejo - Vice-President
Ms. Nakamaejo is an island girl, born in Honolulu and raised in Kailua. She is married and has four children ranging in ages from 15 to 24 years. A 1985 graduate of California State University, Los Angeles in Speech Pathology and currently a graduate student of Vocational Rehabilitation with the University of Hawaii, Manoa, she has worked for the Hawaii Department of Education and for various educational, recreational and independent living facilities in Hawaii and California for over 15 years. She is an active member of her church and volunteers in their woman’s Relief Society organization. She is very eager and excited about working with the members of the Board of Signs of Self to provide support to enable greater service to those in need and especially to the deaf and hard of hearing population in our communities.
Kathy Thomas - Treasurer
A retired teacher from Central California, born and raised in Oahu. She attended and graduated from Hawaii School for Deaf and Deaf-Blind (formerly Diamond Head School) then she went and graduated from Gallaudet University and California State University, Northridge. She have been living on the Mainland for 45 years, mostly in Southern and Central California. Then she moved back to Oahu to inherit her father's apartment in 2013. She enjoys waking up late, movies, art & crafts, swimming, reading socializing with friends, being with her family and traveling to see new places! She also enjoys helping with fundraising events for SOS!
Roberta Chiwa-Tanaka - Secretary
Head dorm parent at the Hawai’i School for the Deaf and the Blind for the past 22 years, Ms. Chiwa-Tanaka has worked with deaf and hard-of-students in a residential setting for over 34 years. Ms. Chiwa-Tanaka graduated from Gallaudet University in 1971 with a BS degree in Physical Education. After graduating and returning to Hawai’i, she was frustrated in her attempts to get a teaching job at the School for the Deaf as she didn’t have a Masters degree, but eventually did find her place and passion working with residential students and providing the home away from home and family modeling so many of the students needed and continue to need.
She comes from a deaf and hearing family. She was born deaf and is a native user of American Sign Language and Hawaii Sign Language. She attended the Hawaii School for the Deaf and Gallaudet University. She has worked as an American Sign Language lecturer for 38 years at Windward School for Adults, Honolulu Community College and Kapiolani Community College. Linda recently retire, but still loves to teach and is an HSL storyteller.
Mr. Lambrecht comes from a hearing family. He was born Deaf and is a native user of American Sign Language. He attended Louisiana School for the Deaf. He is currently retired but has worked as a printer for three and half years while in Louisiana. Later he moved here to Hawaii where he was employed as a Postal Clerk for 30 years in Hawaii, as well as an ASL instructor at Windward School for Adults and at Kapiolani Community College. He loves to teach and is a very funny storyteller.
Scott O’Neal, LCSW - Executive Director
A private practice social worker, Mr. O’Neal currently works for the State of Hawai`i, Department of Health, Developmental Disabilities Division and has been contracting with various non-profit, for-profit, and State agencies over the past 12 years specially to provide services to individuals with a hearing loss. Examples of State and community agencies he has and will continue to be working with include, but are not limited to: The Hawai’i Center for the Deaf and Blind and other HDOE schools and programs serving youth with hearing loss; the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation; the Department of Human Services; the Department of Health Developmental Disabilities Division, Child and Adolescent and Adult Mental Health Divisions; Kahi Mohala; Hale Kipa; Catholic Charities; the Hawai’i Center for Independent Living; Hawai’i Deaf-Blind Project; Ho`opono; the Successful Transitions in Diverse Environments (STRIDE) project; Hawai’i Med-Quest Division and Medicare provider organizations; Federal agencies such as the Social Security Administration; and, the Judiciary system/Family Court.
Our general board meetings are open to the public and community members are always welcome and encouraged to attend! Please check the calendar for the next scheduled meeting or contact us for more information.
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