March 13-15, 2016 • San Diego, CA


<< Back

Irene Forsman

On behalf of Hands & Voices, we the staff at H&V Headquarters, (Janet DesGeorges, Lisa Kovacs, Vicki Hunting, Karen Putz, Stephanie Olson, Terri Patterson, Molly Martzke, Jeannene Evenstad, Joe DesGeorges, and Helen Cotton Leiser) are enthusiastically submitting our nomination of Irene Forsman for the 2016 Antonia Brancia Maxon Award for EHDI Excellence. Irene's contribution to the EHDI system is widely known in her role as Director of the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and Intervention Program at the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB).

Irene Forsman has been in the Maternal and Child Health Bureau for more than 2 decades in a number of positions focusing on children with special health needs and their families. Until her retirement this year, she was responsible for HRSA/MCHB's universal newborn hearing screening and intervention program since passage of the legislation. Critical components of the program are screening of newborn infants for hearing loss prior to hospital discharge, audiologic identification before three months of age, linkage to a medical home, enrollment in a program of early intervention before 6 months of age, and linkage to a family to family support system.

In discussing as a staff at Hands & Voices why we wanted to nominate Irene, we know that most parents who were going through the EHDI system during her tenure would probably not come in direct contact with her, being in a federal administrator's position. Her work though, touched every family. Her tenacity to ensure that bureaucracy did not bog down the process for families, and to ensure that local, state, and federal stakeholders kept their eye on the prize – ensuring a journey of success for each family.

Lisa Kovacs, Director of Programs has this to say about Irene: When I think of Irene, I think of a champion for EARLY, Hearing Detection, and INTERVENTION. I remember the first time I met her I was somewhat intimidated by her strong presence. However, at that same first meeting, I learned quickly of her passion for families and I found Irene to be approachable, caring, dedicated, and persistent in her pursuit to improving EHDI outcomes for families and their children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

For myself, and in my capacity as Executive Director of Hands & Voices, I am indebted to Irene in her contributions and personal insights and advice for my own development in leadership, and her unwavering commitment to family involvement in all aspects of EHDI systems.

Each of us at Hands & Voices, along with the chapter leadership and all the parents we support, are indebted to Irene Forsman for her tireless dedication and life long career that has ensured a well-established system of supports for families.