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Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility

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Wavefront Centre Staff

Biographies

Administration


Grace Shyng, M.Sc.
Interim Executive Director
Aud(C), RAUD, RHIP

What is your favourite food? 

Sushi all the food groups in one little package

I’ve had the pleasure of working at Wavefront Centre since 1994, first as a student, then staff audiologist (1995), Head of Audiology (1999), and Interim ED (2018). I’m passionate about accessibility and audiology where I’ve been recognized for my contributions to the profession and clinical teaching. In my other hats, I’m a suburban wife/mom/chauffeur, a retired ringette player, and a closet sci-fi novelist. I’ve travelled to five continents, and I hope one day family vacations can be to galaxies far, far away! Every day, I’m inspired by our clients and their stories, and the passion of our staff. Wavefront Centre is unique, genuine, and the real deal. Come by and visit us at Wavefront Centre and have a cup of tea with me. I love to chat about Wavefront Centre and I’ll share some compelling and inspiring stories with you – I have over 25 years worth!

Ruth Gessner
Executive Assistant & Manager of Annual Giving

What is your favourite thing about working at Wavefront Centre?

Being able to hear about all the amazing ways the staff here are able to help someone.

I have worked at the Wavefront Centre for over 15 years. Before I was a staff member, Wavefront touched my life in many ways – as a Child of Deaf Parents (CODA), I saw the many ways Wavefront helped my parents, and helped me to be able to enjoy my time as a kid. I have a varied background in administration, design and facility management and am grateful to be able to give back to a community I care so deeply for.

Vanessa Tobar
Front Desk Receptionist

What is your favourite food?

Dark chocolate – especially in combination with salt and caramel!

I grew up in a Spanish speaking family, and have always had a love for languages and linguistics. Apparently, at the age of four, I begged my parents to enrol me in a French immersion program – though I’ve forgotten most of it now. In university, I chose to take a few ASL classes as electives and I love that I get to continue to practice and learn every day at work! When I’m not geeking out over languages, I enjoy eating ice cream and hanging out with my dog!

Michelle Rondeau
Front Desk Receptionist

What is the best vacation you’ve ever been on?

I went to Australia for a year, and it was amazing!

I grew up with a sister who is hard of hearing, and who has worked at Wavefront Centre for longer than I have! Actually, my interest in audiology developed when I took over her Saturday receptionist duties when she became an audiologist at Wavefront Centre in 2013. My favourite part about working here is the diverse, inclusive, and passionate people, both staff and clients, that I learn new and valuable things from every day.

Communications & Marketing


Yat Li, B.CoMS
Communications & Marketing Manager

What is your favourite food?

Spaghetti & Meatballs – The ultimate comfort food.

I’m a marketer who lives by the 30 principles by Dale Carnegie. You’ll find me with a bright smile most of the time. I have bilateral conductive hearing loss and wear a bone-anchored hearing aid. I rely on my BAHA to listen to all the acoustics around me. At Wavefront Centre, I am empowered to advance the interest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community. I look forward to growing the agency, seeing leaders of tomorrow take ownership of their work, mobilizing one another and becoming powerful agents of change. Did I say I like to play golf? Fore!

Jodi Birley, B.A. Com.
Communications Coordinator

What is the most inspiring part of your job? 

The most inspiring part of my job is the power of sign language! Giving visual access to information in sign language restores justice, joy and hope in the Deaf community. On the other hand, carrying conversations in sign language with non-signers is also rewarding once they start to realise what they have been missing. 

I am a quiet yet expressive native American Sign Language (ASL) speaker and a strong advocate for my signing community. My great passion is to raise awareness around my heritage language, seek communication solutions, inspire and forge alliances to better support my people. I came all the way from a hard-working and multi-talented Deaf family in Regina, Saskatchewan. I hold a diploma from Gallaudet University in Washington, DC and 20+ years of networking relationships in the Deaf community all over Canada and around the globe. On a personal note, I am an avid environmentalist who loves getting her hands and feet dirty, especially off the grid. When I am home with my two white cats, I enjoy gardening, cooking, and watching thrillers on Netflix.

Fund Development


Rita Albano
Capital Campaign Manager

What is the best vacation you’ve ever been on?

The magnificent islands of the South Pacific – mainly Tahiti.

I have been in this line of work for over 20 years and have worked on a variety of projects including managing major fundraising campaigns, community and government relations, strategic project management, and event management, both in Canada and overseas. My successful overseas capital fundraising projects include the Portsmouth Cathedral and the Primary Industries Exhibition in Queensland, Australia. I was also the Director of Development for Women in Government, a national, non-profit, non-partisan organization of women state legislators, based in Washington, DC as well as the Election Campaign Manager for a political party. In Vancouver, I have managed a vast number of capital and corporate fundraising campaigns with great success. I love making that special connection with those who care about a cause and our society as a whole.

David Scott
Capital Campaign Assistant

If you could interview anyone (dead or alive) who would it be, and why?

Assuming we could communicate, I would want to interview the first person to control fire. Whether that person intended to use it for production, warfare, rituals, or even if they were just a pyromaniac, it would tell us a lot about human nature.

Having spent the majority of my twenties in for-profit technology sales, I felt that a career change was needed. I knew that I loved being around passionate individuals, learning their stories, and working with them to improve communities. I left my sales position in July of 2017, and by the following October I joined the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation as a volunteer. There were so many lessons I learned while volunteering, and for that I thank everyone at VGH. Wavefront Centre is the latest chapter in my story – it is one where I am doing exactly what I love.

Head Office Hearing Clinic


Henry Lam, M.Sc.
Interim Head of Audiology, Registered Audiologist 

What is your favourite food?

Potstickers/Gyoza

I’ve been lucky to work as an audiologist in two of the best charitable organizations in Canada that serve the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. I’ve been looking in people’s ears, professionally, since 2003, and almost all of that here at Wavefront Centre. My primary interest in audiology is aural rehabilitation, which ecompasses any supports, apart from hearing aids, that help an individual live better with hearing loss.

If I didn’t become an audiologist, I probably would have become an urban planner because my passions outside of work include urban issues and public transportation.

Yinda Liu, Au.D.
Registered Audiologist 

What is the best vacation you’ve ever been on?

My favourite trip was when my husband and I went to China in 2014. My parents and I moved from China to North America when I was 9 years old and we regularly go back to visit. The trip in 2014 was the first time that my husband had ever visited China. He got to meet all my extended family and I enjoyed introducing all sorts of local food to him. It was wonderful to share my culture with him and at the same time see it differently from his perspective.

I joined the Wavefront Centre family in 2016 and have never looked back. I am so fortunate to work with colleagues who are passionate about helping people and supportive of each other. At the same time, we are not afraid of being silly sometimes and having a laugh together. Outside of work, I enjoy eating good food, traveling to interesting places, perfecting my ukulele skills, and just creating memories with my family and friends.

Hanna Smith, M.Sc.
Registered Audiologist 

What is your favourite food?

Impossible question! I love food and am notoriously NOT a picky eater, which I credit to my time living in a dorm room.

I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta but am proud to call myself a Vancouverite since moving to this beautiful city in 2010. The best part of my job as an audiologist is when clients and their families tell me how much better they can communicate after coming to Wavefront. I enjoy getting to know people from all walks of life and hearing their stories I look forward to meeting you too!

Tina Saiki – Registered Audiologist

What is your favourite thing about working at Wavefront Centre?

I work with great people! I cannot do my job without the amazing support from everyone I work with. Not only are they great at what they do, they are genuinely super nice people!

I have worked as an Audiologist for almost 25 years; over 15 of these years have been with Wavefront Centre. When I am not working, my favorite escape is to be hiking to remote glacier lakes or stand-up paddling in the ocean.

Goska Macior-Headrick, M.Sc.
Registered Audiologist 

What is the best vacation you’ve ever been on?

Camping in Iceland

I don’t have a car. I don’t even have a driver’s license. And no TV. I read. Voraciously. But mostly the Hearing Journal or Lapham’s Quarterly, a journal of ideas past and present. I thought I would study speech pathology, but changed my mind. Having grown up with a deaf sister, ears, hearing, and communication became my passion. But outside my office, you could see me swimming long laps at Kits Pool, birdwatching in Pacific Spirit Park, or skate skiing up at Cypress Mountain. My next project is to cycle to work on my new Trek bike.

Maxine Dominelli Audiometric Technician

What is the best vacation you’ve ever been on?

Camping – Green Lake, Beautiful B.C.

I LOVE to Camp, especially off the grid the less modern technology, the better.

I grew up with a profound hearing loss my daughter was 21 years old when I heard her voice for the first time with the aid of a Cochlear implant. Since then, I love to be in nature and listen to the sounds of water, birds chirping and raindrops falling. Time away from technology leaves me refreshed, rejuvenated and grateful for the gift of hearing. At Wavefront Centre, I’m fortunate to work with the Audiology Drop-in Program. I clean hearing aids, troubleshoot and do minor repairs. I love client work and find myself inspired each day by clients’ stories of living with hearing loss.

Jessica Tang
Client Services Coordinator

What is your favourite thing about working at Wavefront Centre?

My favourite thing about working at Wavefront Centre is having the ability to connect with clients and my colleagues on a personal level.

I have been working in medical clinics for over 11 years, beginning at an optometrist clinic and later at a private hearing clinic. After four years at the hearing clinic, I had the opportunity to work at a pediatric ophthalmologist clinic, which – let’s be honest – was quite loud! A short time later, Wavefront Centre had a posting for their Client Services Coordinator. I had wanted to be a part of this organization for a long time, they saw my passion, and I have been here ever since!

Susan Krzanowski
Client Services Coordinator

What is your favourite food?

Ramen and Fudge Sundaes

I’m here with a smile on my face every Saturday, ready to help anyone who walks through the front door. However, from Sunday to Friday I am a mom to two beautiful girls and they keep me very entertained and busy.

Tri-Cities Hearing Clinic


Sandra Baker, M.Sc.
Manager, Registered Audiologist

What is your favourite thing about working at Wavefront Centre?

I enjoy working with all the people who come to the Wavefront Centre. I like to hear their stories and know that the work we do here is making a positive impact on their lives.

I am an avid cyclist (mountain, road and everything in between). You may also find me out on the local hiking trails in my time off.

Yiwan Woo, M.Sc. Registered Audiologist

What is the best vacation you’ve ever been on?

Peru

I started my audiology career in the East Kootenay, providing comprehensive hearing health care in remote areas of BC. A few years later I moved back home, striving to continue empowering those who come through the agency. When I am not in the clinic, I can be found on a yoga mat, behind a camera, or on a trail.

Annie Wang, M.Sc.
Registered Audiologist

What’s the most inspiring part of your job?

Many healthcare professions focus on improving the quantity of life and what I find most rewarding about my job is that we focus on improving the quality of life. I am incredibly lucky to take part in someone’s hearing journey, and I am constantly reminded of the positive transformations that occur when the quality of communication improves.

My most memorable moments in childhood are marked by laughter around the dinner table, making up songs at summer camp and connecting with loved ones. Those experiences gave me a deep appreciation for the importance of quality communication. Combined with my interest in health care, this later flourished into a pursuit in Audiology. I am passionate about helping patients improve their hearing and communication ability. When I’m not in the office, you can find me travelling to different parts of the world for cultural immersion, gastronomic adventures and definitely good coffee.

Cheri Nigut
Client Services Coordinator

What is your favourite thing about working at Wavefront Centre?

Working at Wavefront has given me the skills to help people to hear better. Our clients are some of the best people I have ever met. I am also thankful for the wonderful people I get to work with.

I grew up in North Vancouver and moved to Vancouver Island where I worked and raised my children for almost 20 years. I moved back to the mainland to be closer to my large family and to find more opportunities for my children. Best decision I’ve ever made.

Willow Hearing Clinic


Praise Chow, M.Sc.
Registered Audiologist

What is your favourite food? 

Pretty much anything my husband creates. He loves to watch the Food Network and knows how to elevate just about anything.

I have a unique and difficult-to-hear kind of name – not great for someone who works in a hearing clinic. But that’s because my parents were thrilled to have me! You will find our receptionists explaining daily: “Her name is Praise as in “PRAISE the Lord!”.” Prior to Wavefront, I was responsible for school-aged students through Vancouver Coastal Health and worked at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. Fast forward 16 years, with a husband and two kids in tow, I have enjoyed serving my clients in English and Cantonese; it’s been rewarding to help them find access to communication that they may not have thought possible. Borrowing from artist FatBoySlim, I want to “praise you”, Wavefront!

Interpreting


Tim Mallach
Head of Interpreting Services

What is your favourite food?

Asian Food

Did you know that I am a child of Deaf adults (CODA)? I was born Deaf, as were my parents. To save you from searching, when I say Deaf family, I mean ALL my family is deaf. Because I grew up in a Deaf family, American Sign Language (ASL) is naturally my first language. Since I was a little kid, I have been committed to overcoming all forms of barriers through supporting inclusive societies. This passion eventually catapulted me into a career as a Deaf interpreter. Outside of work, you can find me enjoying my other passion: Pickleball. Have you ever heard of the sport? It is the fastest growing sport in the world.

Barrington Harrison
Community Interpreting Services Coordinator

If you could interview anyone (dead or alive) who would it be, and why?

Nelly Furtado. But not just interview I want to be BFFs with her! I know. It’s kind of far-fetched, but Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream, and you know what, so do I! I’ve been such a HUGE fan of her music since I was 8. Plus, she’s Canadian, so there’s a chance of it happening…maybe. 🙂

I was born & raised in Toronto, ON, and I am of Caribbean descent (Jamaica REPRESENT!). Before getting involved in the Deaf community, I had a huge admiration for drama and television and a keen interest in music and creative writing. While in high school, I worked as a background extra for several TV & movie productions, and I started taking interest in ASL upon graduating. In 2013, I moved to Winnipeg, to work with the Deaf community as a Services Support Person for Deaf-Blind individuals, and then moved here to Vancouver in 2015. I also enjoy watching random informational videos (documentaries, “How It’s Made” episodes, TED Talks), and I’m an avid fan of Big Brother.

Jacky Buss
Medical Interpreting Services Dispatcher

What is your favourite food?

BBQ Chicken

I’m a CODA (Child of Deaf Adult) , which means both of my parents are deaf; I grew up in an ASL environment. I love to get crafty both in and out of work, and being a part of the Social Committee allows me to have fun and get creative for work gatherings.

Jessica Haughton – Community Interpreting Services Coordinator (Maternity Leave)

What’s the most inspiring part of your job?

The most inspiring part of my job is knowing that Deaf individuals are receiving interpreters for the most important parts of their lives such as weddings, promotions, graduations and more. Being able to give them the keys to communicate clearly really inspires me.

I am Hard of Hearing and a CODA (Child of Deaf Adult). I enjoy planning events and at work, I get to do that as part of the social committee.
Outside of work you can find me camping, hiking with my dog and most important, being with my family.

Counselling Services


Dr. Linda Franchi, Ph.D.
Head of Counselling Services

If you could interview anyone (dead or alive) who would it be, and why?

I would interview Lucille Ball. She captured my imagination with her visual comedy. She had the uncanny ability to not only laugh at herself but also to make me belly laugh.

The dignity and potential of every individual are foundational when quality services are created and delivered. I am inspired by the human spirit to transcend enormous difficulty and achieve monumental success when services are accessible linguistically and culturally. I hold a PhD. from Simon Fraser University, specifically examining accessible communication and end of life care. Over the years, I have had many amazing Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf-Blind teachers who have patiently taught me American Sign Language and the ins and outs of communication accessibility. Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf-Blind individuals have enriched my life profoundly. I am also an avid gardener, artist, and competitive dragon boater. I am the proud parent of three canine children.

Marco Chiaramonte, B.Sc., CCDP
Employment Placement Specialist – Team Lead

What is your favourite food?

Fish and chips

I am hard of hearing and grew up in Portugal Cove, Newfoundland until settling in Vancouver in 2008. I am currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree at the University of Victoria in Community Development through the School of Public Administration. I see the potential for positive change regarding inclusion and diversity within Wavefront Centre and have made considerable contributions regarding accessibility for Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities. I also hope to make significant strides politically – changing policies and procedures for access to affect change with the communities that I continue to serve.

Joy Borgonia, B.A. Com.
Employment Placement Specialist

What is the best vacation you’ve ever been on?

Petra and Wadi Rum, Jordan

I have an extensive background in disability management and rehabilitation and am passionate about helping people with disabilities. It has been a great and rewarding adventure!

At Wavefront Centre I assist hard of hearing clients find sustainable employment, as an Employment Placement Specialist. I am also hard of hearing and working with clients with same disability makes me feel that I am not alone. It is about courage, determination and overcoming challenges like adversity, stigma and prejudice. Outside of work and household chores, you can find me hiking, trekking mountains and running. I love the outdoors and I’m ready to beat Forrest Gump in running. Run Joy Run….

Grace Straw, B.A. Psych.
Employment Placement Specialist

What’s the most inspiring part of your job?

Being able to contribute meaningfully to a client’s personal and professional journey while honouring his/her/their life experiences. 

I hold a B.A. in Psychology from Simon Fraser University. I also have over 5 years of experience in coaching, mentoring, counselling, training, policy development, and project management. My expertise as an advocate, educator, and trusted advisor has led to community, business, and higher education collaborations all over the world. I have and continue to advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in all areas of life, including education and employment for the LGBTQ+ and Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities.

Barbara Low
Counselling Team Assistant

What is your favourite thing about working at Wavefront Centre?

This is the first place of employment where I have had the experience of working with a group of people who actually work together as a team, which makes each day inspiring and enjoyable.

I have been in the Office Administration business for more than 25 years working in the public and non-profit sectors. I have a certificate in Office Administration combined with a specialty in Records Management. I another life, I acquired a diploma in Journalism and spent a few years working as a news reporter on small town newspapers in British Columbia. I enjoy hiking, Nordic skiing and travelling. I also enjoy more sedentary activities such as sewing, embroidery, reading and going to the movies.

Better at Home Program


Tammy Gray
Better at Home Program Coordinator

What is your favourite food?

Anything potatoes except sweet potatoes

I am a strong supporter of seniors and Deaf-Blind persons in our shared community and honoured to be their ally. At Wavefront Centre, I feel empowered by working with Deaf and Deaf-blind seniors to improve their lives. I am proudly Deaf and use American Sign Language.

Sharon Miller Better at Home Seniors Outreach Lead / Assistive Devices Consultant

What is the best vacation you’ve ever been on?

A trip to Cancun so many years ago.

At the age of two and a half years old, I was diagnosed with a severe sensorineural hearing loss in both ears and have been wearing hearing aids ever since. When I say I understand, I really mean I understand. I have faced similar struggles on a daily basis and find inspiration by serving others. I have had the good fortune to work with the audiology, communications and counselling departments over my long tenure at Wavefront Centre. Each client shares their struggles and gains knowledge to overcome challenges with communicating with colleagues, family, and friends. I love learning about new technologies and services that are available to pave a gentler road in the world of accessibility and connectivity.

Finances


Susan Tang, B.Eng., C.P.A.
Controller, Head of Finance

What is your favourite food?

Chinese food

I hold a Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada accreditation. I joined Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility in 2007 and was appointed Controller in 2018. As Controller, I am responsible for overseeing the day to day financial operations, assisting the Interim Executive Director and the other department heads with budgeting processes, grant applications, resolving financial issues and preparing financial statements. I also have a mechanical engineering degree. When I’m not at work, I spend a lot of time watching and falling in love with my two little grandsons. I enjoy this rewarding journey watching them grow as they make their way through life with a smile and twinkle.

Nohemi Fuchs
Accounts Receivable

What’s the most inspiring part of your job?

I’m proud to work for a charitable organization that cares deeply about the people whom we serve.

I immigrated to Canada many years ago. I love living in a country that has a sense of social equality. I have been working in the accounting field for almost half of my life. However, working for a charitable organization has taught me that not everything is about making big profits, but more about sharing and caring for the wellbeing of others.

Anita Hyrapet
Accounts Payable

What is your favourite thing about working at Wavefront Centre?

Something that amazes me about Wavefront Centre is how we have grown and developed into a leading resource and model for accessibility in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.

My background and experience is in the financial industry in various capacities; numbers have always been my forte. At Wavefront Centre I work in the accounting department with a great team and my job is to make sure that our invoices are processed on time. When I’m not in the office, I enjoy going to the movies and different types of events, as well as taking long walks and travelling.

Communication Devices Showroom


Scott Rosenquist
Assistive Devices Analyst

What is the best vacation you’ve ever been on?

Snorkeling in Maui.

I am a business student at SFU and I work part time at the Wavefront Centre showroom. I have sensorineural hearing loss in both ears and wear hearing aids for all situations (except during Yat’s nagging). After being a Wavefront Centre client for years, I have enjoyed learning about the organization and assisting guests with difficult hearing situations. When I’m not working, you might find me hiking or snowshoeing on local trails – my favourites are Cypress and Grouse.

Research Program


Dr. Brenda Poon, PhD, MED
Senior Research Fellow, Research Program Lead

What is the best vacation you’ve ever been on?

Italy was fantastic – The food, wine, culture, people we met… can’t wait to go back!

I am a researcher who thrives when exploring ways to create knowledge that helps mobilize community action. I am curious by nature and very interested in ways to promote healthy communities! Drawing from my educational background in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Studies, and Population and Public Health, I’d like to explore ways that people and organizations build bridges and relationships with one another to collectively support healthier societies that are accessible to all. At Wavefront Centre, I’m so excited to be part of the development of its new research program and look forward to seeing it grow!