The third annual Engage for Change | state convening at the National Deaf Center on June 17-19, 2019, will gather more than 80 leaders from 39 states to collaborate on improving deaf education and employment throughout the United States.

Attendees will come from Alabama to Wyoming to the three-day conference, representing various schools and colleges, school districts, and state departments of education, mental health, rehabilitation services, employment, disability, and vocational rehabilitation. They will consult with the National Deaf Center team and each other, dive deep into data and resources, and develop future state priorities and initiatives.

Convening session topics include programs in mentoring, self-determination, and work-based learning; promoting high expectations; developing collaborative systems; understanding new data on education and employment; and leveraging community resources.

The convening keynote will be presented by Carla García-Fernández, Ph.D., on June 18 and is titled “The Role of Intersectional Identities of Deaf Youth in Education and Employment Outcomes.” An expert on marginalized communities in deaf education, Dr. García-Fernández is Assistant Professor of Deaf Studies at the California State University at Northridge and is co-founder of Teachers for Social Justice: Deaf Learners. She received her doctorate in cultural studies in education from the University of Texas, earned a master’s degree in multicultural education from the University of Arizona, and has a bachelor’s degree from Gallaudet University.

“Growing up, I was taught to embrace my deaf identity, but my other multiple intersecting identities were not sufficiently understood, and therefore could not be discussed and embraced,” said Dr. García-Fernández. “Now as a teacher and advocate, I realize many deaf children of color share experiences similar to mine. My research allows me to explore the tangle of identities that exist, and the implication of their intersections for deaf individuals of color.”

Working with state teams is a significant part of the mission of the National Deaf Center. Throughout the year, Engage for Change | state works with each unique team to provide networks of shared leadership and peer support, as well as assistance with research, state data, and stakeholder engagement. Sample state activities for deaf youth include implementing a summer camp, developing an online financial literacy course, and launching an internship fair.

Additionally, the National Deaf Center engages on the local and national levels to further create systemic change.