March 13-15, 2016 • San Diego, CA


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Susan Lenihan

It is our distinct pleasure to nominate Dr. Susan Lenihan for the Antonia Brancia Maxon Award for EHDI Excellence. Dr. Lenihan has made noteworthy contributions to the field through persistent work preparing professionals to serve children who are deaf/hard of hearing (d/hh) and their families. Dr. Lenihan presents frequently, nationally and internationally, primarily on early intervention, literacy, children who are deaf living in poverty, and professional mentoring. She currently serves on the board of the AG Bell Association and coordinates the Consortium for Teacher Preparation Programs for Children Using Listening and Spoken Language. She has also led service-learning experiences, accompanying students to Costa Rica to promote hearing screening and intervention.

A critical piece to the success of EHDI programming is the provision of a body of professionals skilled at serving children and families through each of the 1-3-6 stages and beyond. Under Dr. Lenihan's guidance since 1994, Fontbonne's Department of Communication Disorders and Deaf Education has graduated more than 135 professionals in deaf education and speech-language pathology, prepared to serve children with hearing loss and their families. Responding to the implementation of the Walsh Act, Lenihan and colleagues developed a graduate program in early intervention in deaf education (EIDE), enrolling the first cohort of students in 2001. The program was awarded an Office of Special Education Program (OSEP) Personnel Preparation Grant in 2012. Now, given the recent closure of the Smith University deaf education program, and responding to the need for teachers prepared to work in inclusive educational settings, Dr. Lenihan has led a collaborative effort with Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech to develop a program to prepare teachers of children who are d/hh with specialized knowledge and skills to serve children in inclusive educational settings in the Northeast region of the United States. Dr. Lenihan and colleagues have also secured OSEP support for the professional preparation of speech­ language pathologists, focusing on preparing these professionals to serve children who use AAC and cochlear implants in inclusive educational settings using collaborative strategies.

The quality of the EIDE program is evidenced by a 100% completion rate, since 2002, for 135 students. Graduates of the program are providing services to children who are d/hh in at least 27 states and five countries, in both public and private programs. Within one year of graduation, 98% of graduates have been employed as educators of children who are d/hh, early interventionists, early childhood special educators, or reading specialists. All graduates since 2003 (excluding international students) are fully-qualified under IDEA. Twenty-nine graduates from Fontbonne's programs have earned the Listening and Spoken Language (LSLS) certification from the AG Bell Academy, with recent graduates currently engaged in this process as well. Two graduates were selected as fellows in the National Consortium for Leadership in Sensory Disabilities.

Dr. Lenihan dedicated her career to ensuring that professionals in deaf education and related fields are prepared to serve the youngest children with hearing loss and their caregivers. She awes, inspires, and motivates those of us fortunate enough to work with her every day.