Interview with Chris Wagner (June 27, 2012)
What can you contribute to NAD?
Chris shared that he would like the delegates to look into the history of what he did. When he moved to Florida there were lack of services. He decided to do a different plans to improve the services in Florida as it was not like Rochester NY due to the lack of services. He established several town halls meetings in Florida to find out what the community wanted. He went to 18 cities in 11 months. And, He brought the issues to the governor. He knows that every state association operates differently but for Florida he felt it was the best way to get out to the community and find out what is needed in the
State. For this reason, FAD increased the membership from approximately 300 members to nearly 1,300 members. As a result of the town hall meetings, FAD was able to put together an detailed report of concerns raised by Deaf and hard of hearing members. A summarized report of top 10 areas of concerns was submitted to the Governor and the State Legislation. This effort led to the establishment of the Florida Coordinating Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
He feels that his past experiences with non-profit management and corporations help him better understand the needs of resources for NAD. For example, NAD submits very few grants out for funding resources, and it is not effective. He feels strongly that NAD should be applying for at least 25 grants a year.
He feels that NAD needs to implement a Clearinghouse that will collect and provide resources available for the community. NAD, along with a coalition of different organizations, can implement resources made available for parents and professionals in regards to ASL as a choice for their child He believes strongly that NAD needs to establish a foundation and he will put every effort to establish this foundation funds. With the Foundation, we will have the financial resources to implement the projects that the community has been desiring for.
What do you believe in?
Chris believes strongly that every Deaf and hard of hearing person is equal. He wants everyone to have a place in NAD regardless of their political differences, beliefs, and orientation.
I challenged Chris about his role with CSD.
Chris informed that he was never a member of CSD. CSD sold their VRS services to private investors, who then established ZVRS before he even joined the ZVRS organization. He said that every NAD Board member must sign a Conflict of Interest (COI) Acknowledgement Form at every Board meeting. He lists all organizations and / or businesses that he and his wife are involved with. At any time, a discussion is brought to the floor at a board meeting that may be relevant or similar to the business or organization, the board member will abstain from the discussion and vote. For
example, when a discussion was brought up about VRS, Chris abstained from the vote and voluntarily removed himself from the meeting with respect.
Why are you the one the delegates should vote for you?
Chris feels that he is the person who can work with all people. Education is a critical issue for us to focus on. We have Deaf schools to be concerned about as well as Deaf children in mainstreamed programs. No one should ignore them. He wants to find ways to better educate the community by bringing all deaf people together again.
What Changes will be made if you are president of NAD?
Chris believes strongly with his State Association and organization involvement, he has a better understanding of the needs at NAD. He can see that there is a clear need for a foundation to generate funding to support the programs at NAD. He also feels that NAD committees put too much time on writing position statements or making recommendations. Instead, Chris believes that the committees should be developing strategies to implement tasks set by priorities. Chris would like to have the NAD work closely with the State Associations to establish regional Junior NAD chapters to better reach the mainstream children. He feels it is time to expand the opportunities for both mainstream and deaf schools children by bringing them together. That way we show America the importance of ASL and social development.
He is fully aware that NAD has brought up excuses that they have no funds or resources. So, he believes that NAD should establish its own foundation to support different initiatives. He will take all of his effort he can do to implement the NAD Foundation. He believes this foundation will help create funds to create new resources, including staff, state associations, national organizations and the Deaf community. The Foundation shall also develop educational resources for parents who make decisions on their Deaf child.
He would like to see at least 3 town hall meetings a year across the country to allow the community express their concerns. With all the data collected from these town hall meetings, he will like to see that NAD provide an Annual Report, along with a summary of Deaf community needs to the White House and members of Congress on an annual basis..
He feels that the current practice of our Law and Advocacy Center filing lawsuits and the DCMP grant from US Department of Education are not sufficient enough for NAD to grow in the future. He would like NAD to seek out different funding strategies to solidify its financial position. Chris would like to see the NAD increase its efforts in grant writing. With new long term grants, this will open doors to more resources and funding for NAD to do more things in the future.
What is important for NAD and the Community?
Dean dropped this question as Chris already said that it was very important. And, he wants to build this bridge through foundation funds and at least three town hall meetings around the country.