Changing of the Guard Letter from the CA H&V Executive Team

Dear California Hands & Voices Community,

On November 10, 2019 the California Hands & Voices Board met to discuss the vision and strategic plan for our organization.  In addition to those activities, a consensus decision was made to allow Apryl Chauhan and Cora Shahid to pass along the roles and responsibilities as President and Vice-President to a newly elected leadership team.  This transfer of leadership has now become effective. The following is a message from both the former and incoming leaders of California Hands & Voices:

Apryl Chauhan- California Hands & Voices Former President 

As we head into a new year, the time has come for an exciting change in our leadership. We at California Hands & Voices pride ourselves on being a diverse organization of parents and professionals from all regions of the state. With each change in leadership comes fresh ideas and unique experiences. I have had the pleasure of serving on this board and being a part of the leadership team since 2012. In these eight years I have met and worked with families from one end of the state to another and I can tell you the greatest truth I’ve learned is that regardless of how we choose to raise our children, we all want to accomplish the same goal. Happy and successful Deaf and Hard of Hearing children. Knowing this is at the root and soul of everything, I have realized we are far more alike than we are different.

Rosabel Agbayani- California Hands & Voices President

Differences is what makes our community unique and beautiful!  I have walked this journey alongside California Hands & Voices since 2012.  At the time I wasn’t ready to be a leader. I didn’t realize it then, but I see now, that being a part of California Hands & Voices helped shape me into who I am and the work I am able to do!  I was given opportunities to learn the value of creating relationships, connecting with the community understanding the uniqueness of our culture, and acquiring the skills to be an advocate for families and professionals to facilitate quality improvement. I truly believe that the power of who we are as individuals lies in the team of people who guide, support, and empower us to be a better version of who we are in order for us to be the person we are meant to be! I am grateful for having the opportunity to grow as a parent leader because of CA H&V! 

I am both honored and excited to continue the work of the legacy of our leaders who are interwoven in our infrastructure with a diversity of knowledge and backgrounds as the heart of California Hands & Voices.  The hope is as a team the community we serve will be filled with the true spirit of inclusion. The true heart of our organization is FAMILY. It is my hope that EVERY family of a Deaf or Hard of Hearing Child finds that California Hands & Voices is a safe space and a place to feel like they belong. 

TOGETHER we grow!

California Hands & Voices is inspired to start this new chapter of our journey with a team of leaders who truly believe and live out the mission of  supporting families with children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in a respectful and non-judgemental manner regarding language opportunities, communication tools or educational approaches. 

As we grow and evolve as an organization, so do our leaders develop and grow!  To make room for the extraordinary goals we will be working hard to accomplish for our families statewide, we have shifted some of the roles and responsibilities to allow for our current board members to expand the level of services we can provide.  Two newly appointed leaders in our community include:  

Yiesell Rayon- Vice President California Hands & Voices

Yiesell is the current Director of Latino Support for Hands & Voices Headquarters.  She is the Area 7 Co-Representative who tirelessly commits to being an advocate for deaf and hard of hearing children throughout Los Angeles and Orange County. In addition, Yiesell is the Camp Director for the Inland Valley DHH & Microtia Atresia Family Camp.  She is passionate about empowering parents to help their children reach their fullest potential.  

Cora Shahid- Executive Director California Hands & Voices 

We couldn’t let our former Vice President, Cora Shahid, go without creating an important role to keep the heart of team beating strong. Cora is one of the founding board members of CA H&V.  As Executive Director, she will also continue to oversee the chapter’s social media presence as well as manage the growth and development of our parent and professional membership. Her goal is for CA H&V to flourish so that non-judgmental support can positively impact every family in California raising Deaf and Hard of Hearing children.

As we transition, our hopes as a team, and in partnership with our fearless leaders in our DHH Family Camp and ASTra Programs, work together to accomplish our goals providing greater outreach to our diverse community, continuing to build productive and collaborative relationships with educators and professionals, most importantly empowering a new generation of leaders (parents and children) who will someday shape the future of our organization.  

We hope that as a member of the community (parent, child, educator, professional, or stakeholder) you are encouraged to join us as we learn from each other and grow from our experiences to make a difference in the lives of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children throughout the state of California.  Because no matter where you are in your journey, you will always have a home at California Hands & Voices!

We are humbled by this opportunity and look forward to continuing to serve the needs of our Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community! 


Your California Hands & Voices Executive Team

Rosabel Agbayani -President
Yiesell Rayon- Vice President
Nancy Sager- Secretary
Kat Lowrance-Treasurer
Cora Shahid- Executive Director
Apryl Chauhan- Past President
Tony Ronco- Founding President