Former head of UNICEF Anthony Lake will serve as the keynote speaker at the first-ever Network of the Americas Conference this April in Hyannis, Massachusetts, setting the tone for four days of talks led by experts in the field of deafblindness.
Plenary speakers include Ed Bosso, superintendent at Perkins School for the Blind, Maurice Belote, project coordinator with California Deafblind Services at San Francisco State University, and George Stern, a member of Deafblind Citizens in Action.
The conference, hosted by Perkins and Deafblind International (DbI), a global consortium of advocacy groups and educational institutions, will highlight the importance of partnerships in supporting lifelong learning for people with deafblindness. Members and friends of the deafblind community from North, Central and South America and the Caribbean are expected to attend.
Having speakers with diverse backgrounds will allow attendees to hear different perspectives on issues that affect them, said Marianne Riggio, director of the Educational Leadership Program at Perkins International.
“It’s something this field has been clamoring for,” she said. “It’s a chance to step back from what you do every day, how you think every day, and refocus on the big picture.”
Speakers are expected to shine a light on a wide array of topics including family partnerships, societal inclusion and how to measure success. The key speakers are:
Anthony Lake, keynote speaker (speaking April 15)
Anthony Lake most recently served as executive director of UNICEF, overseeing the United Nations’ global mission to improve the lives of all children and their families. A champion of humanitarian causes since the 1970s, Lake has also served on the board of Save the Children, advised the International Committee of the Red Cross and worked within the presidential administrations of Bill Clinton as national security advisor and Jimmy Carter as director of policy planning.
Ed Bosso (speaking April 16)
Ed Bosso is superintendent and executive director of educational programs at Perkins School for the Blind, where he oversees all educational services on its campus in Watertown, Massachusetts and in public schools. Bosso has more than 30 years of experience in special education and has previously held leadership positions as principal of the Delaware School for the Deaf, director of Statewide Programs for Deaf and Deaf Blind Students and vice president of Gallaudet’s National Deaf Education Center.
George Stern (speaking April 17)
George Stern is a member of Deafblind Citizens in Action, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with deafblindness. He has been blind since he was a toddler, having lost his sight after undergoing surgery to treat Bilateral Retinoblastoma. He started losing his hearing at age 4 and eventually began to identify as deafblind. Born in Jamaica, Stern is now a doctoral student at Texas Tech University, where he studies journalism and serves as president of the school’s Brazilian jiujitsu club.
Maurice Belote (speaking April 18)
Maurice Belote has served as project coordinator with California Deafblind Services (CDBS) at San Francisco State University since 1997. He has taught at both public and private schools throughout California and spearheads CDBS initiatives related to intervener training, early identification and referral. Belote is well-known nationally and internationally for his presentations and writing on topics including tactile strategies, family resources and assistive technologies.